Spongebob Squarepants elected as 'chancellor'

23rd September 2005, Comments 0 comments

23 September 2005, HAMBURG - Forget Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his conservative challenger Angela Merkel. While grown-ups are undecided as to who should lead the country, German children say there is only one guy who can save the nation - Spongebob Squarepants.

23 September 2005

HAMBURG - Forget Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his conservative challenger Angela Merkel. While grown-ups are undecided as to who should lead the country, German children say there is only one guy who can save the nation - Spongebob Squarepants.

Schroeder's Social Democrats and Merkel's Christian Democrats only got about 35 per cent of the vote each in the recent general election, leaving Germany in a political quagmire.

But Spongebob got 88 per cent of the vote among kids aged 3-13 sponsored by Nick TV, a German-language subsidiary of Nickelodeon which launched a new national network earlier this month.

Schroeder and Merkel enjoy recognition rates of more than 80 per cent among Germans over age 16. But in the 13-and-under age group, Spongebob's big-eyed yellow face has a 90 per cent recognition factor.

Germany is in the midst of the Spongebob fad that peaked in America a couple of years ago. The German-language version hit TV screens here only after the animated series had become a Nickelodeon network hit in America.

But only a limited number of episodes initially were dubbed into German, resulting in viewer frustration at endless repeats of the same few episodes.

Now the German Nick channel, which took to the airwaves on September 12, is airing all new adventures previously never seen in Germany, to the delight of the hordes of fans.

That has resulted in a new tidal surge in interest in Spongebob and the other residents of Bikini Bottom - Patrick the stupid starfish, Squidward the surly squid, Mr. Crabs the miserly boss and Sandy Cheeks the deep-sea diving Texas ground squirrel. Not to forget Gary, Spongebob's loyal and long-suffering pet snail.

For the German version, Spongebob got a new last name: 'Schwammkopf' (Sponge-Head). Squidward got a new first name - Thaddaeus - which actually sounds better with his surname Tentacles. Patrick and the rest got to keep their names.

The campy absurdity of premise of the show - a bathroom sponge working as a fry cook in an underwater fast-food outlet - is just as ridiculous-sounding in German as it is in English. The puns are just as silly. The dialogue is just as nonsensical. And Spongebob is just as lovable.

"Spongebob fits in wonderfully with today's zeitgeist," says Munich media analyst Maya Goetz. "Viewers young and old can identify with Spongebob. He takes pride in his work only to be put down by his unappreciative boss. He worries about potential problems that then never come to pass.

"The harder he tries to do something really well, the more he makes a real mess of things. And sometimes, just when he thinks he has failed, everybody says cheers and calls him a hero. We can all identify with those situations," she said.

"And he has an endearing way of making the viewer like him because the viewer knows Spongebob is a good and decent fellow besides being somebody you'd enjoy being around," Goetz explained.

You know that he might inadvertently get you into trouble, but you also know that he'd give his right arm for you (as they're detachable) if he thought that would be of any help to you.

"Spongebob is honest, conscientious, warm-hearted, open-minded and wants everybody to have rich and enjoyable lives," Goetz said. "He might make a pretty good chancellor at that."

DPA

Subject: German news

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