From the Desk: What I Learned From Spongebob and History

By Theresa Schliep

(Owen Corrigan / The Fordham Ram)

(Owen Corrigan / The Fordham Ram)

I remember very little from my childhood. My memories leading up to high school, largely consist of recollections: the pain of my broken arm after my brother fell on it, my mother mourning the election of George W. Bush, watching Spongebob Squarepants with my sister and later on, watching the History Channel with my dad.

As a history buff, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand bothers me. It’s a tragically romantic tale.
The archduke traveled, on the fateful day of June 28, 1914, to Sarajevo, Bosnia, with his wife Sophie.

She had never been allowed to appear besides her husband in public, but was allowed to this day because it was the couple’s wedding anniversary.

As the story goes, there were many opportunities to avoid the assassination. The couple traveled in an open car and an assassin threw a bomb that rolled off their car and injured a group of bystanders.

Returning from their function, they traveled the same route they arrived on, and took a wrong turn. There, Gavrilo Princip shot the Archduke and his wife at point-blank range, killing them both.

In hindsight, this story is almost frustrating, especially since the assassination is considered to be the catalyst for the First World War.

Did they really not consider the threat of an assassination? Were they so oblivious that they did not realize the risk of traveling the same road on, which earlier on the same day, a would-be assassin threw a bomb at the car?

The irritation I feel towards this episode is similar to the annoyance (but also, pleasure) I feel towards a particular episode of Spongebob.

This episode is one of my most vivid childhood memories. Spongebob loses his identification and in an attempt to find this synecdoche for his identity, he literally retraces his steps.

He did everything he did the day he lost his identity: he falls down the stairs, tries Gary’s snail food and goes dumpster diving with Patrick Star. Many tongue-dips of snail food later, Spongebob finds his ID while dumpster diving. The funny thing is, it was on the back of his pants the whole time.

Maybe the assassination of Franz Ferdinand and Spongebob Squarepants have nothing to do with each other.

I can not help but to question how both of them did not see what was so clearly in front of them. Spongebob had his pants on backwards, and Ferdinand had to have known the risk of a Serbian nationalist assassinating him.

Pragmatically, Ferdinand lived before the age of bullet-proof glass and sniper-on-roofs security. Similarly, Spongebob is a cartoon sponge.

Philosophically, though, these two episodes forced me to realize how often I am blind to reality or refuse to accept it. If Spongebob was watching a cartoon based on my life, he would probably find me silly for not realizing that my procrastination would lead to a series of all-nighters. On the other hand, Ferdinand, looking on the history of my life, might think me arrogant for presenting on the Wizard of Oz in Spanish with never having seen the movie and thinking I would do well.

Sometimes, reality is difficult to recognize. Should I fault an archduke or a cartoon character for their inability to do so?


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