Spongebob and Patrick look shocked in a still from 'Spongebob Squarepants'.

Whoops, AI Is Making Images of Spongebob Squarepants Committing 9/11

The future is here, and it's ... this?

Sometimes, you stop and wonder whether or not Spongebob Squarepants could be responsible for the attack on the Twin Towers that happened on September 11, 2001. After all, the tragedy spawned a million conspiracy theories in its wake. Why not this one? Or at least, that’s what Bing is asking. Microsoft’s Bing Image Creator is currently generating images of the beloved cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants flying a plane into the Twin Towers. Apparently, it’s a thing. And it’s not just our favorite sponge: Kirby, Batman, and even the Minions are some of the characters getting the AI treatment.

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Of course, we just exist in a world where Americans love to make 9/11 jokes. It’s part of our healing process, 22 years later. We’re all just meme-ing our way through it. We can’t help but wonder about a world in which Spongebob was both A) real and B) a terrorist. And yes, that world is deeply stupid, like much of these AI-generated images are.

Microsoft’s Bing Image Creator won’t allow real humans to be featured in their AI images, so naturally the next stop was Spongebob committing terrorism. And not flat, 2D Spongebob either, but that heavily filtered new CGI Spongebob from the movies. I mean, it really makes you question what we’re doing with AI image capabilities, and AI in general. I mean, AI could be curing diseases, fishing plastic out of the ocean, or solving the unsolvable questions of our universe. Instead, we seem to be using AI for THIS and for writing terrible SEO articles.

Here’s where my brain went: How is he not dried out? The reality of Spongebob Squarepants is that he would be flying into the towers looking like a prune. So you know, NOT SO INTELLIGENT NOW ARE YOU?

spongebob dried out
(Nickelodeon)

Maybe we should stop with these images

Sure, these images are arguably hilarious. But should this really be what AI technology is building toward? I’m sure Nickelodeon and its parent company Paramount Global aren’t exactly thrilled. Luckily, I don’t believe that anyone really thinks this is a Nickelodeon-sanctioned image. It does show a very important problem with generated images though: You never know where they came from.

Prior to AI being able to figure out hands, we all joked about the inability to create believable human beings. But the more AI steals from real art, the better it gets. Yes, it’s funny Spongebob memes now, but this speaks to the larger issue with AI-generated art as a whole. I don’t think this meme is going to break the world as we know it, but it is a symptom of a larger issue at hand. I’m sure there is more to come because that’s how generated images and memes work.

It’s so easy to make and then replicate these images, that anyone can do it. This is just the start and it’s honestly kind of scary … in the midst of also being funny cause you know, Spongebob.

(featured image: Nickelodeon)


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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.