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Food + Cooking

SpongeBob SquareButt?

The latest national Burger King ad has riled at least one parents’ group—and scared at least one correspondent.
spongebob ad

Did someone say “inappropriate for kids?” According to The Campaign for a Commercial-free Childhood, a watchdog group for kid-targeted media, Burger King ads have officially crossed the line. The group is angry about BK’s new nationally aired commercial for 99-cent SpongeBob SquarePants–themed kids’ meals. The Burger King TV spot refashions “I Like Big Butts,” the ’90s rap song and cheeky video by Sir Mix-a-Lot, into “I Like Square Butts.” The King raps about the beauty of rectangular “butts” in a fluorescent set filled with air-humping video vixens in biker shorts stuffed with what look like phone books. But it really looks like SpongeBob SquarePants, goofy underdog animated hero to children everywhere, has been shoved down a fly-girl’s shorts.

I find the ad less inappropriately sexual than (like Flame) just plain weird—my inner mom isn’t incensed, but my inner kid is baffled. There are conspicuously no kids in the ad, and I’m almost too old to get a Sir Mix-a-Lot reference. SpongeBob and I don’t really have much history, but I am certain that at eight years old, if I had witnessed on television the silhouette of Elmo or Grover struggling for air inside the crotch of a dancer’s workout gear, as if wriggling in a kidnapper’s sack that also happens to contain a female pelvis, I would have been concerned at the least. I can imagine being in grade school, in the car pool, peeling off my shin guards after soccer practice: My friend’s mom bends around from the driver’s seat, asks if anyone wants to swing by Burger King on the way home, and I slip into a post-traumatic-stress-induced sweat, remembering the bad, bad people that suffocated my favorite Muppet inside a pair of teal synthetic leggings. “No, thanks, Mrs. Katie’s Mom, can I just go home? Or maybe to Taco Bell?”