Remembering Stephen Hillenburg

Francis Klingenberg, Centurion Staff

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Students all around BCCC are mourning after discovering cartoonist Stephen Hillenburg, the creator of “SpongeBob SquarePants,” died on Monday, Nov. 26, from Lou Gehrig’s disease.
Hillenburg, 57, passed away after a long fight with Lou Gehrig’s disease, more commonly known as ALS. It is a disease that attacks the nervous system, weakening muscles and preventing many physical functions.
Nickelodeon released a statement on Hillenburg’s passing: “We are incredibly saddened by the news that Hillenburg has passed away following a battle with ALS. He was a beloved friend and long-time creative partner to everyone at Nickelodeon, and our hearts go out to his entire family.”
English Theoretical Physicist Stephen Hawking is a famous example of somebody affected with ALS. Hawking passed away on March 14, 2018, after having been paralyzed for decades because of this disease.
Hillenburg was most known for creating “SpongeBob SquarePants,” an American animated television series that has been running for 12 seasons since 1999. He had also made three movies about SpongeBob, the third one set to be released in 2020.
“SpongeBob SquarePants” revolves around a yellow, square sponge named SpongeBob that lives in a pineapple under the sea. This goofy character with square pants and a squeaky laugh has impacted hundreds of millions of children around the world.
Nickelodeon said, “Steve imbued ‘ SpongeBob SquarePants’ with a unique sense of humor and innocence that has brought joy to generations of kids and families everywhere. His utterly original characters and the world of Bikini Bottom will long stand as a reminder of the value of optimism, friendship and the limitless power of imagination.”
For some students, SpongeBob was a means to spend time. It offered enjoyment and laughter.
Emily Carpenter from Warminster said that Hillenburg’s death affected her greatly. “I was sad,” she confessed, “I used to watch a lot of SpongeBob when I was a kid. Days’ worth.”
She admitted that she watched the show to pass the time. She added, “SpongeBob was good for some quick laughs.”
For Hillenburg, this is exactly what he wanted. During an interview, he said, “It seems like we’re aiming at a child audience, but everyone can laugh at the basic human traits that are funny. It’s playful, the humor is playful, the world is playful. You can kind of let go.”
Hillenburg’s goal was to offer an escape from reality for anybody who needed it, like Dan McNamee from Southampton. He said that he loved SpongeBob and stated “It was my favorite childhood TV show”
“It was always on, always there,” he continued. Whenever he needed a pick-me-up, SpongeBob was there for him, “It was really funny, and laugh-able.”
Hillenburg’s death was a shock to Dan when he heard, and he said “It is such a sad thing.” He compared Hillenburg to Marvel Comics Creator Stan Lee, “They had the same goal, and they impacted so many people.”
For some Bucks’ students, they haven’t even heard about Hillenburg’s passing. Jovani Hernandez from Warminster was shocked.
”Really? Oh wow,” said Hernandez. “When I was a kid, I watched the show every day.”
While he didn’t know anything about Hillenburg as a person, he had a lot to say about the show. “I always looked forward to the new episodes,” he said. “They were fun and exciting.”
When asked about SpongeBob’s influence, Hernandez thought for a moment and said, “I think he left an impression on other creators. You can see all these new cartoons popping up everywhere.”
He smiled a bit and said, “SpongeBob just had that magic to him.”
Daniel Sayers from Morrisville agrees that SpongeBob “had that magic.”
“I used to watch that show every single day since I was 3!”
When asked how SpongeBob impacted his life, Sayers said, “It was an inspiration.” He continued, “It showed many kids a story of success, and it gave many smiles too.”
Sayers was surprised when he heard of Hillenburg’s passing. “I didn’t see a single article, but one of my friends on Discord told me about it.” Discord is an instant messaging application for computers and mobile phones.
Sayers was depressed after he was told. “It was just like Stan Lee,” he said. He mentioned that, “They both created a world that influenced a generation, and they both suddenly died.”
He lamented about Hillenburg, “He showed, through SpongeBob, that anybody can work his way up in the world. He was a life-changer.”
To everyone, Hillenburg is known as the creator of “SpongeBob SquarePants.” To many, he was known to be funny and unique. To his family, he was a curious and gentle visionary. To us here at Bucks, we see him as an inspiration.
He left his mark on countless generations, and his work will live on in our hearts. Whether it’s just a funny meme we see on the internet or a life-lesson we learned through SpongeBob, Hillenburg will be remembered.
We at the Centurion send our best wishes to his friends and family.

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