I wanted to write this yesterday, but since the Super Bowl was still fresh in my mind, I decided I would get too emotional to do anything about it. So, I gave it an extra day to let myself cool off.
As many already know, in November, 2018, Stephen Hillenberg, the creator of the famous cartoon Spongebob Squarepants, died from ALS.
Shortly after his death, a petition began to go around the internet. With the Super Bowl coming up, one fan came up with an idea to create the perfect tribute to Hillenberg: have the song “Sweet Victory” play at the Super Bowl Halftime show.
Any fan of Spongebob has heard or seen “Sweet Victory”. At the climax of the Season Two episode “Band Geeks”, Spongebob helps Squidward lead the citizens of Bikini Bottom in playing the song at halftime for a spoof on the Super Bowl, the Bubble Bowl.
That performance and the final shot of Squidward leaping into the air in joyful triumph is legendary in cartoon lore. “Band Geeks” was critically acclaimed and is considered by most fans and critics to be the show’s best episode. I affectionately call it “Squidward’s finest hour.” So when that petition went up to play it at Super Bowl LIII, hundreds of thousands signed it as the ultimate tribute to the late Hillenberg.
In January, it looked like fans were going to get their wish:
Here’s what we got instead:
What. The heck. Was that? Just thinking about it makes me upset!
While some fans were happy that Spongebob got a cameo at the halftime, many were livid, myself included. So, we did what angry fans do: go to social media and spew our bile. Currently, the #1 trending video on YouTube, the Super Bowl LIII Halftime’s overwhelmingly disliked. It stands at 622k dislikes, last time I checked. And the comments are just as bad:
I don’t hate Sicko Mode, i actually think it’s an amazing song. But when you do Spongebob dirty like that, that’s when you’ve crossed the lineLee Croc, YouTube
“Hey Patrick, what am I now? “”Uhh, stupid? “”No, I’m the NFL!” “What’s the difference!”Hello, YouTube
Rocky Reyes, YouTube
We are disliking the video faster than nfl can remove it
I could go on! Everyone hated it!
I am aware that we were never outright promised that “Sweet Victory” would be played at the Super Bowl, but it was implied that it would be, given the footage of Spongebob in Maroon 5’s promo for the Halftime. I know that it can be argued that we should be lucky that we even got that cameo.
I don’t want to argue that, though. Because it felt like the cameo was an even bigger insult to the fans. The people who run the NFL and the Super Bowl thought that fans would be content with a brief cameo, but they underestimated us.
Having Spongebob reduced to a small cameo not only felt lazy, but disrespectful. Disrespectful to the fans who fought so hard for this, and disrespectful to Spongebob, Hillenberg, and the impact they’ve had on so many lives. Even if they didn’t have the cameo, the Halftime Show would have gotten a lot of hate. It was bland, forgettable, and honestly, it sucked.
At least there are people out there who have tried to do something to correct the NFL’s mistake. The morning after the Super Bowl, the Dallas Stars posted this video on their Twitter feed, giving us the halftime show fans deserve.
There’s no point in dwelling on the past any longer, though. All we can do is make sure the NFL learns their lesson and move on. Maybe someday, we can give Hillenberg the tribute he deserves, and get the sweet victory we deserve. As for Maroon 5, I hate them now. Plus side is, we have our first Dank Meme for 2019.