Las Vegas Raiders rookie cornerback Damon Arnette tried to walk back a tweet where he criticized the implication that the cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants might be gay.
On Sunday, Arnette voiced his displeasure to a tweet by Nickelodeon that showed a rainbow-colored Spongebob celebrating Pride Month “with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.” This offended the rookie defensive back from Ohio State, who tweeted:
So now spongebob gay lol... 2020 doing so many people wrong. He a sponge.. they tryna expose these kids to everything to early.
After receiving praise and a fair amount of criticism, Arnette on Monday tried to clarify his remarks, tweeting:
I’m sorry if I offended a lot of you guys. I’m in no way a homophobe, I just feel like a sponge shouldn’t be gay OR straight. It’s a sponge for kids.
Showing that the news of a gay sponge really bothered him, Arnette also posted a tweet from a parody Spongebob account that has more than 375,000 likes.
Setting aside why Arnette would be offended by a cartoon character being gay, his tweets showed a general cluelessness about the importance of role models in media, especially for children.
For the record, the show’s creator Stephen Hillenburg, who died in 2018, said of his characters: “We never intended them to be gay. I consider them to be almost asexual. We’re just trying to be funny and this has got nothing to do with the show.”
Hat tip: Jeremy Brener