I like the Square Butt commercial and I cannot lie

The other day I was watching a very important PBS documentary. Okay, it was Real Housewives of NYC.

(After which Nate said, "We really need to talk about your TV habits because they're bad." )

(And then I realized that I'm not going to take TV-watching advice from the guy who still watches the Powerpuff Girls without irony.)

During the show, a commercial came on that had me shouting BRILLIANT! HILARIOUS! AWESOME! And evidently I am alone here.

If you haven't yet seen the Burger King commercial promoting a Spongebob Square Pants partnership (SpongeBob, Nate's other favorite show) take a look below. In a well-produced, over-the-top parody of the original Six Mix-a-Lot video, I Like Big Butts, this 21st century made-for-commercial TV remix features the lyrics, I Like Square Butts.

Reading the comments about it this week on blogs and message boards and email strings, I feel like the bad mom who's supposed to be outraged but isn't. I am supposed to be seeing how this commercial is single-handedly bringing down decade of feminist progress and is one teeny step away from inspiring the next generation of pole dancers. And yet instead, I find myself arguing, "What? It's a parody!" A parody of a silly 90s pop culture moment, aimed at parents, only running at night on adult shows.

Which makes sense. Because if Nate is any indication, mostly who wants all that plastic SpongeBob crap is guys like Nate.

And stoned college kids.

It's also pretty much right on brand for Spongebob which, if you've ever watched it, you know lives and dies on the butt joke.

Joanne Bamberger, who I lurve to death and am proud to call a fellow Momocrat, took the more popular parental point of view which she expressed eloquently in an editorial piece on NPR (NPR! Go Joanne!) One aspect of her piece is that she is surprised that moms who disliked the Motrin Mom campaign (ahem) could think this was funny.

I take some issue with the question because that implies that what the Motrin watchers lacked was a sense of humor and that now they've miraculously found it.

In fact, I think it was the Motrin commercial lacking the sense of humor.


What can I say, I like irreverence. I like seeing the guy get hit in the nuts with the soccer ball on America's Funniest Home Videos. I liked Madagascar 2, and I'm not sure how exactly Big and Chunky is so much more acceptable than the Burger King ad. And yeah, I guess I like seeing otherwise attractive women with phone books in their butts. (Although admittedly I could live without the "Booty is booty line at the end.")

I'm not stupid and I completely appreciate the notion that some see the ad combining a children's icon with "sex" and that's a dangerous place to go -- but I have to use "sex" in quotes because a parody of a ridiculous song to begin with isn't the same as having Giselle come out in a bustier and lick a Spongebob shaped ice pop for the camera.

Humor, to me, makes all the difference.

In other words, it's hard to say to your child, "Oh this video? That's just Fergie simulating felatio on a British palace guard." It's easy to say, "Oh this commercial? That's a joke because there was this silly video back long before you were born where all the people did this funny butt dance and everyone used to laugh about it and dance to it at parties."

At least that's what I said to my daughter. But then, I have it easy. She doesn't like SpongeBob. And she doesn't like burgers.


Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

As you and motrin know, I'm all about a good parody.

4/21/09, 10:14 AM  
Anonymous The Casual Perfectionist said...

I'm so glad someone else admitted this out loud! I will always have a soft-spot in my heart for Sir Mixalot. I thought the commercial was HILARIOUS the first time (and 18th...I'll admit it.) time we watched it. Shame on me. ;)

4/21/09, 10:17 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

We don't watch a lot of commercials here (thank you TiVo) but when I caught this one I laughed so hard I cried. Literally, weeping myself silly and doubled over. It was FUNNY!

I think I tweeted to PunditMom that I didn't think the ad was for children, as you pointed out, so I don't see the problem. If it was airing every 20 seconds on Nick Jr. or Disney, then perhaps I'd take more issue with it.

4/21/09, 10:19 AM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I am a huge fan of that song as evidenced by the fact that DH and I requested it at his (new) company's Christmas party and then proceeded to dance ALONE to it on the dance floor--and, yeah, I was 9 1/2 months pregnant.

But, here's the thing: Nickelodeon has been making some stupid moves lately (not taking Chris Brown's name off the Kids Choice ballot-- they waited for him to do it--; featuring the Pussycat Dolls in the awards; and deciding that Dora needs to grow up to make room for Dora makeup, bras, and cell phones, no doubt). So, I'm not a fan of them doing a parody about butts b/c it just feels like another bad move on their part.

Though, in the larger scheme of crap our kids are exposed to, I'd rate this a 3 out of 10. Turn on MTV at 3pm when most kids are home from school watching TV and that is when my brain starts to melt.

4/21/09, 10:24 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

@fairlyoddmother Excellent point on the other Nick missteps. I can see where the combo of events may start to ruffle parents more than any one would alone (except the Chris Brown thing which...ugh. Bad, bad choice).

I know it's a slippery slope to look at inappropriateness (so to speak) in relative terms, but it's so true - I'm more worried about the stuff my kids will see than the stuff they won't.

4/21/09, 10:27 AM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

I freaking love that commercial. It makes me laugh every time. Then again, my kid and her BFF sing their own lyrics to Baby Got Back.

Motrin wasn't a parody, nor was it funny. Apples to oranges.

4/21/09, 10:28 AM  
Anonymous Amelia said...

I think this video is HILARIOUS!!!! The thing about the original song is that there are both gender and culture issues at work, and I think some feminists are missing the mark when they only look at it from the gender perspective.

Anywho, as a Mom who loves both Spongebob and Sir Mix-a-Lot, I think it's important that we don't always overthink these things and have some dang fun. I know my mother was appalled at my taste in music (think Two Live Crew's "Me So Horny") when I was younger, but I was then and still am a powerful, assertive, confident woman. I just don't have the time these days to sit and ponder the post-feminist theoretical aspects of a square yellow sponge and an aging rapper. I'm sure WOW will be knocking on my door soon. . .

4/21/09, 10:29 AM  
Blogger Gray Matter Matters said...

Do you remember when this was the song Ross and Rachel sang to their baby? Hilarious. I liked the ad, but then again, as you said, it was "of" my generation. Don't know if I want to have to use my Wayback Machine (Sherman & Peabody, also of my generation) and show my kid the original video and what makes this funny.

BTW, Spongebob has been known to remain on after my son has gone to bed. I'm with Nate.

4/21/09, 10:30 AM  
Blogger Mahlers On Safari said...

I agree. That ad is totally inspired! And thanks for the "chunky" video. That was fun, too.

4/21/09, 10:32 AM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

Reminds me of the time when I was at dinner with some feminist friends who were going to the Million Mom March.

I told them since they were going to be up, could they please grab me a beer and make me a sandwich.

Half the feminists laughed their asses off and thought I was hilarious. The other half thought I was a total asshole.

Can't I be both?

Seriously, humor makes all the difference.

4/21/09, 10:33 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

Of course, I've seen Weird Al in concert (twice) so my taste may be questionable. But I do like a good parody.

4/21/09, 10:35 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

@Amy Weird Al was Nate's very first concert.

I never let him forget that.

4/21/09, 10:37 AM  
Blogger Caroline said...

I think that this commercial is hilarious, and if I'm channel surfing and see it I'll stop. I have to admit I was a bit scandalized the first time I saw it but only because I wasn't allowed to say "butt" when I was a kid.

4/21/09, 10:55 AM  
Blogger Alyssa S. said...

I have no problem with this commercial...geared towards adults anyway, who, I am convinced, are a huge chunk of Spongebob's viewership. I do my best to ensure my little ones watch commercial free TV and don't have the opportunity to see it. You see...that's what the big people in control of the remote do. On the other hand, I whole-heartedly object to the Burger King himself, who I find infinitely creepy...even more than Ronald McDonald. They both give me the willies.

4/21/09, 10:57 AM  
Blogger DO WORK said...

This commercial is great! I find it rather hilarious that my 3-year-old who is just waking from a "late evening" nap, jumps up out of his stupor and begins dancing. But then again, this is a child who enjoys the original "Big butts" song (edited version). What can I say, he likes to dance! On the other hand, it may just be the fact that this commerical was shown while I was watching "The Golden Girls..."

4/21/09, 11:05 AM  
Blogger Mommy Darnell said...

I was a bit embarrassed that I kept singing a long with this commercial every time it graced my T.V. screen. Thanks for admitting you think it is genius too.

4/21/09, 11:05 AM  
Blogger Wicked Step Mom said...

I have to say, I am on the face. I really don't have strong feelings about this one. I know that I should pick a side, but for some reason, I just can't.

Nickelodeon has made some bad moves lately, but at the same time, they at least make sure their actors get an education and work as little as possible. The same thing can't be said for the Disney channel. Bears likes to refer the them as the child meat grinder of the new millennium.

4/21/09, 11:16 AM  
Anonymous The Casual Perfectionist said...

Oh, and the way I explain the "booty is booty" line at the end? Is that a 90s rap-star is making money off kids' meals when he used to be making money off CDs. Booty (as in a pirate's loot) *is* booty. :)

4/21/09, 11:24 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...



You are a genius

4/21/09, 11:26 AM  
Anonymous Sundry said...

Why is nobody talking about how effing creepy the plastic King is? Who cares about the song or the butts, can't sleep, King'll eat me.

4/21/09, 11:44 AM  
Blogger Cid said...

Okay, so now I know where my six year old got "I like em big ..." from. The Burger King - just plain creepy and Sponge Bob - just plain bizarre. Together - not so good.

4/21/09, 11:46 AM  
Anonymous SoMo said...

I am glad to see I am not alone. The commerical came on in the late afternoon and my kids were watching. I didn't take offense and didn't mind my kids watching it, either. Neither of them seemed to notice: 1. the Spongebob phrase is dead around here 2. I crank up the original song whenever it comes on the radio and 3. we don't need BK or a song to enforce the butt jokes around here.

There was an argument that the measuring of the woman's butt in the commerical will give girls the wrong impression of their bodies. Has no one listened to the song? The bigger the better. *shrugs*

I really see no problem with this commerical.

4/21/09, 12:52 PM  
Blogger Lora said...

I love that commercial. We saw it for the first time over the weekend and it got me up off of my own big butt to shake it around the living room with my son. I wish they played it more often!

4/21/09, 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I laugh at this commercial too and must be laughing so much that I didn't even realize that it had to do with Spongebob. I thought it had to do with their hamburgers being square. Just realized after watching it on here that I'm thinking of Wendy's hamburgers while singing along with the BK commercial.

4/21/09, 1:13 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

HILARIOUS!!! That is the first I have seen of the commercial!! I must not stay up late enough at might to catch it on TV (I am lame like that). I agree, I just can't get that worked up by something so freakin' funny. And I am a pediatrician so not sure what that says about me!

4/21/09, 1:47 PM  
Anonymous mrs. q. said...

And here I thought the Madagascar 2 video was worse than the BK one! The kids dug it. Now I'm going to teach them how to butt dance.

4/21/09, 1:59 PM  
Blogger kristin said...

Oh I love this commercial... it probably stems from the place inside of me that can sing the real "Baby Got Back" without a moments hesitation... but so help me, I love it!

4/21/09, 2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am totally with you on this commerical! Loved the song then, love the song now, love the commercial. I think its hysterical and not anything anyone needs to worry their silly little heads about. There are much bigger fish to fry. I still laugh when I see it.
I also DVR much of what my kids see so they don't see many commericals. Love the FF button.

4/21/09, 2:51 PM  
Anonymous becky said...

Like the song itself, but not a big fan of the commercial. There's a line about wanting to "get wit cha, cuz you're makin' me richa" that just bugs.

I can see the humor, and that it's a parody. Just don't like the spongebob tie-in. If it were for something else, I'd probably be laughing my butt off.

4/21/09, 3:01 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

Ha! Well, Nate probably has less shame than me - I went as an adult. With my husband. With no kids with us. Because we are shameless Weird Al fans like that.

4/21/09, 3:18 PM  
Blogger help4newmoms said...

I found the cover of the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition (Bar Refaeli) much more difficult to explain to my young girls. "Why is she taking off her bikini bottoms when she's standing in the middle of the beach, Mommy?" "Uh, Uh, I guess she's having trouble holding it in, you know how that can happen."

4/21/09, 3:55 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

Actually, I wasn't implying at ALL that people who didn't like the Mortin ad lacked a sense of humor. I didn't like the Motrin ad. What I was trying to say in my piece was that as a community, there was a pretty large voice about why they were offended by the Motrin ad because it insulted mothers. Yet, I didn't sense the same sort of outrage when it came to an ad aimed at selling kids meals with square booties.

I love good parody, and I loved the Motrin parody because it hit the nail on the head about why the original ad was offensive. But there is such a long history of images of girls and women being exploited by corporations to make a buck, I don't see the Burger King parody as funny. It only buys into a trend we can't seem to get rid of in society -- that it's OK to let boys and girls think that this sort of ad is just a natural part of the world.

And I love you too, Liz! :)

4/21/09, 4:27 PM  
Blogger PunditMom said...

Also, I don't buy Burger King's take that the ad is geared toward adults. Lots of things are geared toward adults that make their way into our kids' lives --

4/21/09, 4:31 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Thanks for chiming in Joanne.

I think that there are always going to be offended people and there are always going to be offensive things. I can 100% absolutely understand why someone would be put off by the BK ad. I just don't happen to be one of them. I see a strong difference between sexuality and a parody of sexuality.

I can't argue you out of your feelings nor would I want to - I can only express my own.

(Am still loving you by the way!)

4/21/09, 5:00 PM  
Blogger Maria Melee said...

I think it's REALLY funny. I was thinking about this last night actually, and feeling like a dick because New!Dora pisses me off.

The thing is, I don't think Sponge Bob is appropriate for kids in the first place so it's not like it's Uniqua from the Backyardigans in booty shorts.

4/21/09, 6:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm on board with any parody of Baby Got Back. It's part of the recipe of funny, isn't it?

Have you seen the Gilbert and Sullivan style one? Hilarious.

on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qkJdEFf_Qg4

4/21/09, 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Jane said...

thanks for the perspective. now I have more stuff to think about, -- which is good!

4/21/09, 10:12 PM  
Blogger Amelia Sprout said...

I like the commercial too, because I would like to think I have a sense of humor. Here is why I don't think it should be offensive.

It is butt, not ass. Even booty is OK. We spend a lot of time talking about cute baby butts, what comes out of their butts, making sure they get their butt on the potty, butts are funny. Like farts are funny. If you can't teach your kid the right and wrong time to talk about butts, then that is your problem.

The original song's lyrics were raunchy, but it was funny. It was a song with a sense of humor, and honestly, it made some of us with big butts feel a little better.

If someone has an issue, they're probably the people who call farting foofing. A fart is a fart is a fart, and it is funny.

4/21/09, 11:03 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I had a fit when Mickey dees was putting the undead pirates in happy meals which seemed like an obvious conflict of concepts.

but girls with square butts? I'm for that.

The problem with the king thing is that we're a democracy, damn it. somebody call Fox news.

4/22/09, 12:27 AM  
Blogger Ericka said...

wth? power puff girls ROCK. i love that show.

spongebob creeps me out. so does the bk king. i expect to see a celebrity death match between the king and the clown from it - and i totally think that the king will annililate the clown.

what were you talking about? right. commercial. i didn't like the commercial, mostly 'cause i was utterly creeped out by spongebob and the king combining forces. this spells doom for the free world.

4/22/09, 12:36 AM  
Blogger the new girl said...

You ain't your average groupie.

Is all I'm saying.

4/22/09, 7:07 AM  
Blogger Cynthia Samuels said...

I know that everyone who has written here is committed to the well-being of their kids and to the extreme necessity for humor in the world. One woman's funny is another woman's malignant, clearly. (And Punditmom and Liz, I love you both. A lot. And you know it. )
I have to admit though that when I saw the ad I literally startled - like infant startles. Raising two sons I had to give my sense of humor a thick skin and sat through a zillion Police Academy movies etc but this commercial really did bother me. It was at an instinctive level - I didn't stop to think about the humor - just kind of recoiled. I was honestly offended.
So I'm checking in. Anyone who saw the commercial for Obama that Liz worked on (http://dontgelyet.typepad.com/dontgeltoosoon/2008/10/the-best-obama.html) knows of her graceful gifts; anyone who reads this blog knows of her sensitivity, talent and love.
Anyone who reads Punditmom knows of her thoughtful and wry take on things and her big heart. This is just something seen through two sets of eyes attached to two different magnificent women. Both well worth listening to.

4/22/09, 7:49 AM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Aw Cynthia, always the perfect diplomat.

I'm going to chalk this one up to some generational stuff, and mainly, whether or not the viewer has a fond connection to the original song. A parody only works if there's a universal understanding of whatever it's riffing on.

Really appreciate your opinion.

4/22/09, 9:02 AM  
Blogger Villagepig said...

oh thanks for sharing that (we don't get the same Burger King ads because, well the Brits prefer humour with a bit more edge, you know dry, so dry in fact you can scratch on the word dry (if you get that reference from way back in SA I will be so impressed).

As for Madagascar 2, I have only one word to describe it, HILARIOUS!

So, um thanks (again).
p.s. I realise I have much abused grammar and punctuation in this comment but blame it on the CHUNKY :-)

4/22/09, 9:03 AM  
Anonymous Stesha said...

Finally, someone who likes the commercial. Another friend of mine told me about it and she made it seem so bad. I even signed the dreaded petition to take it off the air. Sorry. This was until I watched the commercial for myself. Love it! That's what I get for following the masses.

Hugs and Mocha,

4/22/09, 2:13 PM  
Blogger Mom101 said...

Oh my gosh Stesha, you signed a petition without even having seen it first hand? I think that's why gay marriage was overturned in California.

4/22/09, 2:19 PM  
Blogger Karen Bodkin said...

99 cents for a kid's meal?

Oh Canada.

4/22/09, 5:03 PM  
Anonymous Rita said...

I think its funny. I also think the explanation you gave your daughter was perfect. There are much bigger things to get upset about.

4/22/09, 5:28 PM  
Blogger Mrs. N said...

When I got an email from Parents for a Commercial Free Childhood about this strike of brilliance, I removed myself from their mailing list.

4/22/09, 6:12 PM  
Blogger DKC said...

I don't actually mind the commercial - I'm not a huge fan of SpongeBob for my 5yr old is really my issue.

Also? The Burger King king totally freaks me out.

4/22/09, 7:16 PM  
Blogger Mark said...

Wow. I can't believe how many people responded to this. I'm lucky if even I pay attention to my blog. Gotta say I thought this ad was funny and I hate the Burger King King campaign. Just a horrible rip off of Jack to me. If I thought about it I could probably come up with a lot of reasons to not like it but I just plain laughed.

4/22/09, 8:07 PM  
Blogger Jenna said...

My husband and I saw this commercial for the first time last week and were in HYSTERICS!! It continued for what seemed was a long time and I just laughed louder and with a bit of "What the heck is this??"... but cracking up.

The bigger kicker was that at the end, my husband said he didn't get the whole point of the square butt, even though it was funny. Spongebob went right over his head.....

4/22/09, 8:22 PM  
Blogger J said...

I remember going to a party a few years ago, full of late 30's women, all powerful feminists and wonderful people, and 'I like big butts' came on, and ALL the women went out and DANCED their asses off.

I think this commercial is cute and funny, and you're right, there is MUCH worse out there.

4/23/09, 12:34 AM  
Anonymous Peter said...

Without you I would not have even known about this add ... too fnny

4/23/09, 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Michelle -WT Mom said...


4/23/09, 10:44 PM  
Anonymous Peter said...

I find it pretty funny .. and the comparison with 'i like em chunky' is very adequate .. but we don;t get any commercials .. so .. nothing to get very wild about

4/24/09, 3:54 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

I saw the SpongeBob commercial weeks ago when my mother called completely outraged and asked if I had seen it. I had no idea what she was talking about. I saw it, I moved on and I forgot it. I wasn't the audience (and neither was my child, in my mind) and it didn't phase me.

As for the comments about Dora growing up: I thought it was a pretty tasteful maturation. Although, as my DH said, "How did she go from football head to normal head?"

4/29/09, 11:36 PM  

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