Puff, is problematic and potentially negative for children. She is woefully oblivious to the signals that Flounder is sending and is too self-absorbed to care. The teacher responds to Spongebobs concerns with no respect for his wishes for privacy and anonymity. She calls his phrase “Im gonna kick your butt” his way of “making friends.” At the end she is likened to the bully too. Mrs. Puff declares “Im going to kick your butt,” using the same words Flatts Flounder does. Without assessing the situation intelligently she just assumed that Spongebob had punched out Flatts. Therefore, the most potentially negative aspect of “The Bully” is the lack of a strong or satisfactory adult role model in the episode: one of the key guidelines for DIC.
4. One scene that follows guidelines, one scene that does not.
Following DIC Guidelines: Spongebob absorbs the bullys blows.
At the climax of the episode, Spongebob is cornered. He puts a blindfold on and allows Flatts to hit him. Flatts keeps hitting Spongebob over and over until the bully finally passes out from exhaustion.
This scene demonstrates Spongebobs innate inner strength and illustrates core DIC principles such as respect for diversity. The scene could be viewed as “graphic or excessive violence” because of its length. The DIC warns against “graphic or excessive violence” except in situations in which “the subject is properly explored,” and “portrayed in the appropriate context.” Because the episode is about bullying, the subject of violence is “properly explored” and “portrayed in the appropriate context.” The core of the conflict is dealt with by peaceful resolution, as per the first “Conflict and Violence” DIC guideline. The bullys behavior is also shown to be “unglamorous and unacceptable,” both because of the Flounders ugly appearance and because of the way the group rises up when they hear Spongebob crying down the street. They mistake the old man at the bus stop for the bully, but their indignation shows that violent behavior is “unacceptable” socially.
Spongbobs absorption of the bullys blows also depict an “unconventional” behavior and a similarly unconventional character. The DIC urges “positive portrayals of unconventional individuals.” Because Spongebob is an inanimate object and the bully is a fish, no stereotypes are used. Stereotyping is discouraged in the “Diversity and Stereotypes” section, guideline 5. Interestingly, the bully never offers a reason for intimidating Spongebob.
The flounder does not make fun of Spongebobs appearance or his glasses, which upholds the DIC “Character and Values” guidelines. No vulgar language is used and the innocuous phrase “kick your butt” is wholly acceptable for young children learning about violence in schools.
Failing to follow DIC Guidelines: The chalkboard scene
Mrs. Puff, the teacher, asks Flatts Flounder to draw a four-angled figure on the chalkboard. He draws himself beating up Spongebob in graphic detail. The teacher, instead of paying attention to the content of the drawing or to Spongebobs reaction, claims “Oh! We have an artist in the class!”
The DIC guidelines clearly state: “Adults should be portrayed in a positive and supportive way, unless the program is focusing on adult behavior that is harmful or hurtful to the child, and depicts the childs appropriate response.” The DIC guideline is not followed in this episode and especially in this scene. The “harmful or hurtful” adult behavior is in this case Mrs. Puffs denial of the bullying. However, the episode does not “focus” on the adult behavior. The main focus of “The Bully” is on Spongebobs peaceful resistance of the bullying. He does receive any meaningful support from the teacher. Mrs. Puff is truly concerned for Spongebobs well-being but fails to respect his wishes to not tell the flounder about his worries. The episode fails to follow this essential DIC guideline for Character and Values more so because there is no other adult role model Spongebob Squarepants can rely on. In fact, Spongebob declares himself a “fellow adult student” in the class. The episode does not seem to acknowledge the need for children to have a solid, reliable adult role model. Moreover, the scene does not exhibit the type of “positive personal and interpersonal values” that the DIC urges in its Character and Values guidelines. Mrs. Puff does not show real “caring” or “empathy” for Spongebob and ends up.