Steven Universe

Though set for a younger audience, Steven universe is a universal show. It’s creator Rebecca Sugar knew what she was doing when she created Steven Universe. As one of the very few women to ever have their own original animated show, Rebecca Sugar alongside her conceptual artists like Kevin Dart, Have really created something wonderful with this show. The fact that the show contains three strong female protagonist with the main protagonist being a non-white little boy shows how using women for main characters is not a bad thing and that more than one person of a non white ethnic background in a cartoon does not feel “forced”.

 

Steven Universe, though made to sell to a universal audience has a strong effect on one particular target, demographic, minorities. There are characters within Steven universe that represent specific races and gender archetypes which are usually non-existent in other TV shows and cartoons. For example the three main female characters are all-powerful women, and they are never questioned or undermined by others for it. They are never demeaned as less feminine for being strong, Garnet; seen as the one with the strongest physical prowess, is never referred to as butch or ‘too masculine’ but rather praised for her all round badassness. Which to young girls who have a physically strong prowess, is an amazing role model to have because she explore the idea that they don’t have to be weak to be feminine.

This leads me onto my second point. The archetypes Pearl, Amethyst and Garnet represent and why they are important when it comes to what female ideals young children are exposed to within their lives. Let’s start with the leader, Garnet. As previously stated Garnet has great physical strength and as a result of this she is drawn with a more muscular body, something which is very important to depict because there is this idea within children’s media that if you draw a female character as muscular she immediately becomes masculine and therefore is no longer feminine meaning the character is evil. It is a very disgusting and archaic troupe that goes masculine female = bad feminine female =good.

 

Another troupe/ stereotype Steven universe obliterates with this character is a suggestively black character who is not the angry/sassy black women troupe. This character personality default is a damaging stereotype black women everywhere, this idea that black women have to be aggressive and sassy has become expected in both the fictional and real world causing any real world claims of unfairness or oppression to be laughed at as just black women being ‘black women’. However Garnet portrays none of these stereotypical characteristics, she is calm, calculative and has the demeanour and manner of a leader.

Pearl transparent

The next female character I want to look at is Pearl. Pearl represents the more classic feminine ideals, slender proportions and graceful poise, what’s good about her is that it in no way inhibits her abilities as a warrior, she uses her grace as a way of becoming more precise in her attacks, turning her fights into a dance. What can be seen as on e of Pearl largest flaws is that she panics too much, frets over Steven and everything that happens to him, this is in no way a negative thing but makes her more relatable to viewers who find themselves trying to control everything an panics over things she cannot control (ie. Steven).

Steven amethyst 174x252

Last but not least, the final female character I want to pay tribute to is Amethyst. Amethyst is almost the polar opposite of Pearl, brash and not well-mannered she has the personality more befitting of a male archetype for a character instead of a female one.  With this in mind, you would think that the developers would fall into the trap of making her overtly boyish, rejecting all female customs and characteristic in the view that they are lesser than men. However she doesn’t do this. Instead Amethyst only sees herself as Amethyst, she doesn’t fall into lazy stereotypes and, like any of us grows and learns from her mistakes (sometimes). This refreshing perspective on the tired out ‘tomboy’ troupe gives faith and comfort to girls who are very ‘boy – like’ in there behaviour and feel that being feminine is a disadvantage.

The colour schemes, environment settings and character development Steven Universe has blows many modern-day cartoons out of the water. You can tell how working within adventure time has helped Rebecca Sugar develop a vault of knowledge when it comes to creating her own hit TV show.

Sources:

http://rebeccasugar.tumblr.com/

http://www.indiewire.com/article

/television/adventure-time-writer-rebecca-sugar-on-steven-universe

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/tv/steven-universe-creator-rebecca-sugar-is-an-idealistic-trailblazer/2013/11/01/fe622da2-4338-11e3-a751-f032898f2dbc_story.html

http://steven-universe.wikia.com/wiki/Steven_Universe_Wiki

http://kevindart.tumblr.com

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