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Disney+ has added warnings to several shows and movies in its vault, citing “negative portrayals and/or mistreatment of people or cultures.” Dr. Seuss Enterprises withdrew six books from further publication due to alleged racist descriptions and images. The other day Scholastic announced that it would no longer publish Dav Pilkey’s book The Adventures of Ook and Gluk: Kung-Fu Cavemen of the Future because of “passive racism”.

Now to this list add Spongebobs. Nickelodeon has released two episodes – one not yet aired and the other from 2003 – of the children’s comedy show about issues they say are no laughing matter. The new episode, “Kwarantined Crab” apparently “centers on a virus story, so we’ve decided not to air it due to sensitivities surrounding the global and real-life pandemic,” Nickelodeon told Deadline in a statement, following speculation on IGN. And, according to the New York Times, the episode centers on a health inspector who visits the Krusty Krab, where SpongeBob works, “and finds a case of ‘clam flu’.” Time quoted Nickelodeon spokesman David Bittler as explaining that “Kwarantined Crab” was “never scheduled to be sensitive to the pandemic outbreak last year.” The second episode, “Mid-Life Crustacean,” was dropped from Nickelodeon’s rotation in 2018. According to Bittler, speaking to The Times, the network took this action “following a standards review in which we determined that some elements of the story were not suitable for children”. The likely problem? To deal with his midlife crisis, Mr. Krabs joins SpongeBob and Patrick for a fun night out that includes several pretty innocent activities and… a “panty raid.” The panty drawer is being lowered? Mr. Krabs’ mother. Uh. Mr. Krabs properly punishes the trio, but even that lesson apparently wasn’t enough to stop Nickelodeon from scrapping the episode. Honestly, we get it. It was inappropriate, not to mention the character of Spongebob. Could Nickelodeon have gone the Disney route instead and just added a disclaimer? Maybe. These are tricky situations – and change happens quickly. There are no easy answers.

Spongebob streams on Paramount+

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