Steven Universe Inclusive Program by Rebecca Sugar LGBTQ Community Essay: Film Answers 2021

Steven Universe Inclusive Program by Rebecca Sugar LGBTQ Community Essay: Film Answers 2021

Steven Universe Inclusive Program by Rebecca Sugar LGBTQ Community Essay: Film Answers 2021

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Steven Universe Inclusive Program by Rebecca Sugar LGBTQ Community Essay

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AUGUST 28, 2019 9:06AM ET
The Radical Kindness of ‘Steven Universe’
Why the animated series — and its new TV-movie — is the fantasy superhero story we need right now
By ALAN SEPINWALL
Steven Universe (in pink jacket) and friends.
Courtesy of Selectionoon Network
The title character of Steven Universe is an adolescent boy who, over the course of the
Selectionoon Network series’ first five seasons, developed the ability to fly, to conjure an
impenetrable pink shield out of thin air, to use his saliva to heal injuries short of death (and
sometimes beyond), to merge his body with a friend’s (in an act called fusion) so they can
become even stronger as one than they are side-by-side, and more. But his greatest power —
and the reason the show became so adored that a follow-up film, Steven Universe: The
Movie, will air on Labor Day, potentially leading into future seasons — is both much simpler
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and much more remarkable:
Steven is kind.
The animated series, created by Adventure Time alum Rebecca Sugar, has a complicated
mythology involving the Gems, an alien race of women whose leaders, the four Diamonds,
want to reshape the universe into something following their very rigid and orderly caste
system. Thousands of years ago, we gradually(*) find out, a Gem known as Rose Quartz
(Susan Egan) formed a rebellious group called the Crystal Gems to protect life on Earth
from being conquered and eradicated by the Diamonds. By the time the series begins in the
present day, Rose has sacrificed herself to give birth to half-human son Steven (Zach
Callison), who is raised in part by failed rock-star dad Greg (Tom Scharpling) and in part by
the three surviving Crystal Gems: the enigmatically cool Garnet (Estelle), uptight Pearl
(Deedee Magno Hall), and immature Amethyst (Michaela Dietz). Steven inherited Rose’s
gem, and her powers, but his age and the human half of his DNA make them slow to
emerge. So in the show’s earliest adventures, Steven is a glorified mascot to the Crystal
Gems, along mainly for moral support and the occasional bit of improvised pubescent boy
strategy.
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(*) Most episodes are 11 minutes long, and Sugar slow-plays a lot of the backstory and
major arcs by focusing the start of the series (and each ensuing season) on relatively lighthearted standalone adventures. It’s a seasonal structure that classic genre shows like
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, and The X-Files used so well back in the day, but
that’s unfortunately gone out of vogue in favor of pure serialization. (When Veronica
came back this summer, it told a single, eight-episode story.) As a kids’ show with
extremely nuanced themes, Steven Universe benefits greatly from how much time it lets
you marinate in Steven’s world before getting to the big topics. But a newcomer wouldn’t
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be blamed for sampling the first few episodes and dismissing it as something much sillier
and more superficial than what follows.
But even after he begins mastering his inherited powers, it’s clear that Steven’s greatest
asset to the team — and the most appealing part of the whole series — is his fundamental
decency. It’s not just that he prefers nonviolent solutions when Garnet or Amethyst would
be content to smash the latest monster in their path. It’s that his impulse is almost always to
empathize and try to help, and to see the best in everyone he meets — whether seemingly
villainous Gems like the smug Peridot (Shelby Rabara) or humans like shiftless doughnutshop worker Lars (Matthew Moy). Steven wants to be friends with everyone, and wants
everyone to be friends, and more often than not, he succeeds. (Think Leslie Knope, but
huskier and less intense.)
Heroes who are intrinsically good can prove intimidating to storytellers who need to
generate conflict. It’s why most of the attempts to make a post-Christopher Reeve movie
about Superman involved making him angstier, or why, before Chris Evans came along, no
one believed audiences would want to watch a hero as cornily forthright as Captain
America. But when it works — and hoo-boy, does it work on Steven Universe, whether
you’re a wide-eyed kid or a cynical adult — the force of their virtue shines so brightly that it
can be hard to imagine wanting anything even slightly less sincere.
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Steven’s empathy and his knack for accepting people on their own terms proves essential for
a show that presents complex ideas in a manner its young audience will appreciate. Just like
Buffy once used monsters as metaphors for adolescence, Steven Universe uses the Gems to
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talk about a variety of LGBTQ issues (among other things). Pearl’s unrequited love for Rose
— and her resentment of both Greg and Steven for taking Rose from her — is subtly but
clearly established, and is something she and the guys have to work through together. Gems
are only meant to fuse with others like them (Ruby with Ruby, Pearl with Pearl), which
makes the Crystal Gems’ habit of fusing with one another an abomination to the more
traditional, repressed Gems. Yet Steven is thrilled when he sees Pearl and Amethyst fuse
into the giant archer Opal. And when he accidentally fuses with best friend (and mutual
crush) Connie (Grace Rolek) into the glamorous, intersex Stevonnie, it becomes a story
about the importance of consent, with each of them frequently checking in with the other to
be sure they want to stay this way a while longer.
It’s a wonderful show for many reasons, but the curiosity and warm-heartedness of Steven
is the crucial one.
Steven Universe: The Movie plays less as a sequel to the series so far than a Greatest Hits
collection — almost a primer for newcomers, even if it won’t have the same impact on them
that 160 bite-sized episodes of TV had on the veterans.
The movie takes place a few years after the Season Five finale, and early on features a long
expository musical number about who everyone is and how they all got happy endings when
last they appeared. Then along comes a mysterious new Gem who at times resembles Bugs
Bunny at his most anarchic, at others the elastically cheerful Steamboat Willie-era Mickey
Mouse. Her attacks give the Crystal Gems a kind of factory reboot that erases all the
emotional progress they made during the series, forcing Steven to recreate important
moments from their lives to bring them back to normal.
The structure of the movie can make it feel like a rehash of things the fans all know so well.
(At one point, Steven even loudly complains that he is once again having to deal with the
consequences of something his mother did.) Fortunately, it’s a rehash accompanied by a
soundtrack of terrific original songs (co-written by, among others, Chance the Rapper,
Aimee Mann, and Ted Leo) performed by Steven and friends. And if I’m following in
Steven’s footsteps and looking for the best in this follow-up to those five wonderful seasons,
I’d look at the movie as the start of whatever Sugar wants to do with this world next. If it’s
meant as a conclusion, it’s fun but inessential. But if it’s the start of a new phase of an older
Steven’s universe, then it makes sense to travel down memory lane — with frequent musical
interludes — before pushing onto whatever comes after the happy ending.
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The first four Steven Universe seasons are streaming on Hulu, while Season Five is
available On Demand. Steven Universe: The Movie premieres September 2nd at 6 p.m. on
Selectionoon Network.
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9C Steven, The Gems, The Fusions And The Humans:
Modelling Acceptance by Queering The Universe
Flipping The
Heteronormative Script!
Summary: Steven Universe is a halfhuman, half-Gem alien boy who
lives with three Crystal Gem
guardians in a beachy city on the
East Coast. His Gem mother had
been the leader of a rebellion against
the Gem Homeworld; his human
father lives nearby and is an active
but not dominant participant in his
life. While the show started as a
supernatural slice-of-life send-up of
beach-town culture, it’s evolved into
a nuanced critique of gender
constructs. The show, which is
currently in the midst of its third
season, subtly points out how gender
norms get in the way of innovative
storytelling.
Modeling Acceptance by Queering The Universe
• Nonbinary identities and lesbian love
• Race not specifically addressed but, at
times, appears to be performer.
• NOT a show about tolerance. About
acceptance.
• Rebecca Sugar, the first woman to create
and run a Selectionoon Network show.
• Sugar, a bisexual nonbinary woman,
spoke openly about the themes and coding
in the show.
Studio executives unsuccessfully attempted to halt the depiction of gay love.
They relented but wanted to stop Sugar talking about this aspect of the show in public.
As early as 2014, Sugar says, the executives knew that Ruby and Sapphire represented a lesbian couple.
“They told us point-blank, ‘you can’t have these characters be in a romantic relationship.’” But Sugar adds
that the characters were too entrenched, the itemion too far along, for this to be changed.
Fusion:
The ability where two or more Gems—humanoid
aliens— can combine their bodies and personalities
to generate a larger and more powerful form.
Fusion requires emotional connection
Used fusion as a narrative device to teach consent
and other relationship dynamics.
Fusions can be platonic, but many fusions are
depicted as romantic.
I now pronounce you Garnet!
Watch Clip From Season 5
https://drive.google.com/file/d/14LcYPkxoLR6l
9ezzBlhBbFjwneU_X7P3/view?usp=sharing
Representation & Storytelling
“Every show that is pursuing
representation and pushing the limits
of what we can do in animation,
that’s the biggest kind of benefit to
others who are making stories in the
same industry. We can point and be
like, ‘Look! They did this.’ So often
you just don’t have anything to point
at.”
–Rebecca Sugar
Not Just A Kid’s Selectionoon:
Lessons for Life in the 21st Century
“In Steven Universe, love is the cure. But women
aren’t the only ones doling it out, nor are men
merely receiving it as an impetus for selftransformation. Love is the currency of Steven
Universe, and it transfers between characters with
no regard for gender expectations. Love is also
never equated with weakness, and its glowing
presence doesn’t mean that the show doesn’t
grapple with issues like pending apocalypses,
PTSD from abuse, political defection, and smallerscale (but still important) crises like body image,
how to hold on to memories of an absent parent,
and social anxiety… .”
–Lilian Min, Bitch Media








Growth
Transformation
Self-Actualization
Acceptance for
Self & Others
Accountability
Pursuit of the
Truth
Trusting that the
truth will
ultimately set you
free
World where
Difference is
Recognized and
Celebrated
Steven Universe Season 1 to
Stephen Universe Future
All the Characters

Purchase answer to see full
attachment

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