On November 26th Stephen Hillenburg the creator of Spongebob died.
I was still a child and had satellite tv back when Spongebob first appeared so I did have access to Nickelodeon.
I had seen the shifts in trends of the 90s as I had been through it all, how it started with inventive colourful shows, then in came the Power Rangers and the wave of copy cats. Then the dark age when all those inventive shows were replaced by so called extreme teens who were all these apparent cool guys that didn’t care about anything. It was so dull, after growing up with shows like Rocko’s Modern Life and Rugrats to see Nickelodeon now showing crap like Rocket Power and others, it was all oooh look at how cool these people were, but lacked the substance or love I felt from these bright colours I grew up with.
Then one day, there was a pineapple under the sea. This felt odd, it felt… fun. It was like those shows I saw 5/6 years ago. The shows that Nick clearly felt like we didn’t want as it grew harder and harder to find repeats, and this was before I had the internet so I couldn’t find clips on YouTube. But yet here was a show, with bright characters, fun inventive stories and a good sense of humour. And I wasn’t alone.
Spongebob quickly became Nickelodeon’s best show and while we can say they repeated it way to often it heralded a renaissance with the channel leading to shows like Fairly Odd Parents and Danny Phantom. It is true however that the channel then lost touch again as it tried to make every show Spongebob and you got some right piles of crap like Fanboy and Chum Chum, but I’m not here to talk about that.
When I heard Stephen Hillenburg had died it did hit me. While I can’t say I knew much about the man – his creation cheered me up, even the years it wasnt as good which was after the first movie as he had intended to end with the movie, the show never failed to put a smile on my face. While this had come off not long after the legend Stan Lee had passed away I had mentally prepared for his death since he was in his 90s but Stephen Hillenburg passing at 57 hit me hard because I was less prepared for it. His creation brought light at a dark time and in the modern age created an iconic cartoon. Remember in 1999 people were losing their heads thinking the world was going to end because of lazy computer programing, but I didn’t care I was enjoying a mobile sponge chasing after jellyfish with a net. It’s actually quite shocking to realize that was nearly 20 years ago.
Now if you will excuse me, I’m going to go hunt down some episodes.
Stephen Hillenburg August 21, 1961 – November 26, 2018