By anyone's measure, recent speculation about SpongeBob SquarePants and his appearance in the We Are Family children's television video is a bit squishy. Last week, The New York Timesreported that the cartoon character "has become a well-known camp figure among adult gay men" as well as the "new target" of "some influential conservative Christian groups." That set off a media stampede that's still growing, so Christianity Today asked some of the biggest names in children's entertainment to respond to the controversy.
Below, David Campbell and Jim Jinkins (executive producers for children's television shows Doug, Stanley, and PB&J Otter) address their efforts to teach children to love their neighbors. In a separate article, VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer answers via e-mail some questions about the video, children's television, and what this whole hullabaloo might mean. And Focus on the Family, which was at the center of the Times article, explains where it stands on SpongeBob.
As the makers of children's programs, we have been blessed with a wonderful opportunity to entertain and enlighten children with constructive and hopeful stories. We are thrilled when kids and parents find our shows such as Doug, PB&J Otter, Stanley, and JoJo's Circus not only exciting and funny, but meaningful and filled with positive family values.
One of the first lessons most parents teach their children, and a principle that often lies beneath the stories in our cartoons is "love your neighbor." It's an ideal that is just as difficult for grown-ups to follow as for children.
We have been asked about the recent controversy around a proposed "We Are Family Day" event and accompanying music video project and website. First of all, while the We ...