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Drug References in Children’s Movies and Cartoons

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Debra Wallace, MA.Ed, LPCC-S, LICDC-CS

February 5, 2019

Most adults who watch “Spongebob Squarepants” likely end the average episode absolutely confused by its strangeness. However, its popularity has made it an $8 billion entertainment juggernaut and multiple films have been released to wild success. One unfortunate aspect of that popularity is the litany of drug references that the show has sneaked past the censors over the years.

Spongebob Square Pants

Kelp Shakes “Best Frenemies”:

In this episode, “Kelp Shakes” take the town of Bikini Bottom by storm. Everyone in town is obsessed with drinking them as much as possible, mirroring the addictive quality of many drugs. It also has the side effect of making the drinker grow green fur.

“Spongebob’s Last Stand”:

Although the majority of this episode is unrelated to drug use, there is a strange moment when Spongebob starts singing a reggae song called “The Jellyfishing Song.” The choice of music is telling: reggae has always had a strong connection to marijuana use and this particular song is actually a parody of another song, “Smoke Two Joints,” by Sublime. Check out these lyrics for an obvious parallel. The mirroring here is too deliberate to be accidental.

“The Jellyfishing Song”:

I go jellyfishing in the morning. I jellyfish all the night. Jellyfishing in the afternoon. Jellyfishing make me feel alright.

“Smoke Two Joints”:

I smoke two joints in the morning, I smoke two joints at night. I smoke two joints in the afternoon. It makes me feel alright.

Spongebob also periodically eats excessive amounts of ice cream, which has a strange effect on him: he suddenly starts slurring his words, stumbling around, and acting incredibly friendly. The next day, he has a headache and can’t remember anything that happened. Sounds a lot like a hangover, doesn’t it?

Fillmore from Cars

Here’s a reference that rarely gets mentioned, but which is worth a look. “Cars” features multiple different characters, each of which has their own personality. One of the most beloved of these characters is Fillmore, a Volkswagen bus that is incredibly spacey and silly throughout the whole movie. What most children didn’t realize is that he is one big drug reference.

First of all, he is a Volkswagen bus painted with flowers. In the 60s, hippies often bought inexpensive Volkswagen buses and used them to travel the country, so that connection is obvious, but his name is also a clever reference: the “Fillmore.” Two popular concert destinations for hippies were both named the Fillmore, each featuring hard rock and “acid rock” bands that were often filled with heavy drug users.

Fillmore obviously mirrors that and even features the heavy eyes and vacant smile familiar to heavy marijuana smokers. He also rails against “conspiracies” in a paranoid way, similar to the way that many drug users behave:

In another instance, he is traveling with military character Sarge, and he states: “I’m telling you, man, every third blink is slower.” Sarge responds by asking, “The sixties weren’t good to you, were they?” The obvious implication is that Fillmore is high or at the very least burned out from heavy drug use.

Drug References in Speedy Gonzales

Here’s something that slipped past most people’s radars when they watched the antics of Speedy Gonzales. This speedster regularly sings the infamous “La Cucaracha.” While most people are probably aware that “Cucaracha” refers to “cockroach,” they probably don’t know any more of the lyrics. Often, these lyrics were sung by Speedy’s cousin, Slow Poke Rodriguez, a laid back, heavy-eyed mouse that seemed confused and easily distracted at all times. Here the lyrics are translated to English:

“The roach, the roach, can’t walk anymore. Because it needs, because it needs, marijuana to smoke.”

This reference shouldn’t be too shocking: it wasn’t unusual to see Bugs Bunny or Daffy Duck smoking a cigarette, but the scene that really stands out comes from the episode “Water, Water Every Hare,” in which Bugs and an evil mad scientist accidentally inhale ether and float through a castle without a care in the world.

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