SpongeBob SquarePants is a children’s animated show about an anthropomorphic sponge living under the sea. Together with his other sea creature friends, SpongeBob shares wacky adventures that only a living dishwashing sponge can enjoy.
Yet behind the wacky humor, and the absurd characters (such as the underwater squirrel scientist, Sandy) Spongebob is a Marxist allegory on the importance of class warfare and class consciousness. It is no surprise that many episodes take place at the Krusty Krab, Spongebob’s workplace. Spongebob, his boss, Mr. Krabs, and his co-worker, Squidward, prove that class warfare remains one of the biggest problems in twenty-first-century society.
10 Mr. Krabs: Even The Best Worker Is Replaceable
In ‘Welcome To The Chum Bucket’, Mr. Krabs bets SpongeBob’s work contract during a card game with Plankton. Plankton, in his mad quest to obtain the Krabby Patty secret formula, cheats. He hopes that by forcing SpongeBob to work at the Chum Bucket, SpongeBob will make Krabby Patties and drive up his business.
Spongebob, trapped between the egomania of two business enemies, spends the episode crying and longing to be back at The Krusty Krab. His fate is callously decided by Mr. Krabs who was happy to bet on SpongeBob’s happiness and financial stability to win a little money.
9 Squidward: Worship The Company, Or Be Replaced
‘Krusty Krab Training Video’ is a classic SpongeBob episode. It is a fun, light-hearted, and hilarious take on the employee training videos popular during the twentieth-century. During a period of mass capitalist growth in the US, the training video became an impersonal way to train loyalty and conformity into employees.
By creating conformity in workers, they are easily replaced. The narrator in the video warns employees sternly that “no employee wants to be a Squidward”. Employees are taught that it is better to share Spongebob’s idiot-like worship for the company’s dream. In fact, employees with dreams that do not benefit their workplaces are evil Squidwards!
8 Mr. Krabs: Your Workers’ Well-Being Is Unimportant
Mr. Krabs loves money. Although he has a fondness for SpongeBob and Squidward, his love of money dominates every one of his relationships – including his relationship with his daughter, Pearl. As a result, everyone around him suffers.
The central tension in SpongeBob is often Krabs’ unfair treatment of his workers. In ‘Fear of a Patty’, for example, Krabs suddenly decides to open the Krusty Krab 24/7, without hiring new employees. This results in SpongeBob’s humorous mental breakdown, where he begins to hallucinate evil giant, omnipresent Krabby Patties, trying to eat his chewy flesh.
7 Squidward: Never Sacrifice Your Well-Being For The Sake Of Your Job
In yet another episode, Mr. Krabs sacrifices his employees’ well-being to make a minimal profit in ‘Pizza Delivery’. Just after closing time, the Krusty Krab gets a call for delivery pizza. Serving neither home deliveries, nor pizza, Mr. Krabs ingeniously comes up with both, forcing his employees to deliver the item, despite being off the clock.
Squidward realizes that Krabs never inconveniences himself, but forces his employees to work insanely hard for his own profit. He, therefore, refuses to give anything but the bare minimum. Squidward proves once again that he is the anti-hero of the show. Conversely, SpongeBob works consistently hard with nothing to show for it.
6 Mr. Krabs: “Never Let Go Of A Dime”
Eugene Krabs refuses to spend his money. He made his riches by exploiting others and acting entitled to free things from the world. In ‘Krusty Krab Training Video’, we see childhood Eugene stealing soda from a vending machine by tying a string to a quarter. He deviously pulls back the quarter once he gets the soda can.
Again in ‘Dying For Pie’, rather than simply pay his employees a fair wage, Eugene introduces “new age” management styles, forcing his employees to be happy with no worker benefits. He selfishly forces SpongeBob and Squidward to make homemade gifts for each other, out of their own pocket.
5 Squidward: Stand Up For Your Rights
When profit is down $3 from the previous month, Mr. Krabs goes overboard in trying to recoup his exorbitant losses. He bills Squidward for breathing, and for standing at the cash register. Squidward calls a strike in defiance. In retaliation, Krabs fires both men immediately.
Despite Squidward’s socialist polemic on worker’s rights, customers knock him down to get to their precious Krabby Patties. He beckons to the masses, saying: “Nobody gives a care about the fate of labor, as long as they can get their instant gratification.” The episode ends with Mr. Krabs conceding to Squidy’s demands and begging him to end the strike.
4 Mr. Krabs: Do Unto Workers, But Not Thyself
Underneath Krabs’ helpful, jolly nature, there lies an overt dark side, overshadowed only by Spongebob’s covert good side. Audiences are not able to truly see Mr. Krabs in his full light, thanks to Spongebob’s ever-forgiving and ever-understanding nature.
In ‘Graveyard Shift’ (and ‘Krusty Towers’), Mr. Krabs effectively tortures his workers for money. Forcing his employees to work till they drop, he tells them, ‘I can’t hang out here all night. I’ve got a life.” Krabs worships money, but never works hard. When he is not oppressing his workers, he is sat in his office counting his cash.
3 Squidward: Employee Of The Month Is a Vapid Popularity Contest
The Employee of the Month Award is a “scam”, according to Squidward Tentacles. “Mr. Krabs gives you that award so you’ll work harder for no extra money!” SpongeBob’s class naivete is played for jokes in this episode. He cannot understand why Squidward is not interested in working harder to win the award.
For SpongeBob, employee of the month is a symbol of having pride in his job as a fry cook. But for Squidward, it is a symbol of his shame at working as a cashier, trapped in an unrewarding job, when he always dreamed of artistic success.
2 Mr. Krabs: Never Trust Even Loyal Employees
Mr. Krabs’ lucky dime goes missing in “Can You Spare A Dime?’ He instantly accuses Squidward of stealing his lucky dime, despite years of loyal service from the squid. Angry and betrayed, Squidward assaults Mr. Krabs and quits on the spot.
In a rare moment of reflection, SpongeBob warns Squidward that “it’s a cold, cold world out there. No-one’s gonna serve you happiness on a silver platter.” By the end of the episode, it is revealed that the lucky dime was in Mr. Krabs’ pockets after all.
1 Squidward: Loyalty To Your Job Is A Fool’s Errand
‘Can You Spare A Dime?’ is a depressing episode. Squidward quits in the hope of “unlocking his potential.” “The only mistake I ever made was wasting my life at the Krusty Krab,” he tells SpongeBob. Although he quits after being betrayed and defamed by Mr. Krabs’, the episode does not give Squidward a working-class triumph. Rather, audiences are shown the other side of a cold world should they choose their dignity and rights above money.
Squidward was loyal to his job but ended up homeless in an episode that teaches the importance of unions protecting workers from the whims of awful bosses.
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