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What is Steven Universe?
Transcript of What is Steven Universe?
was created by Rebecca Sugar, the first solo female creator to air a show on Cartoon Network. The show's first season aired November 4th, 2013.
The show revolves around young Steven (half human and half gem) and the Crystal Gems, other-worldly beings sworn to protect Steven and Earth.
Despite the fight scenes depicted and the incredible powers the Gems possess, the story is really focused on Steven discovering his powers and growing up.
- Steven Mintz states that children's culture is a response to a specific culture & environment (changing gender norms)
- Today's children resist adult efforts to shape & control their culture
- Steven resists & improvises to discover his power and gender identity through his gem
Discovering the Power of his Gem
Steven's Gem and his confusion in discovering it's powers represents the difficulty that kids experience identifying gender.
Expression of his Gem
Different explanations of how to discover the "gem" are represented
-a "dance" or "performance" to be mastered according to Pearl
-something that comes naturally according to Amethyst
-Garnet's explanation confuses Steven until he realizes he must depend on himself to find the answer
When Steven first met his girlfriend, Connie, his gemstone began to act up in new ways that he had never experienced.
As Steven comes of age, he learns how to properly use and control his powers that are rooted in his gem which is similar to how kids have to learn how to appropriately perform their gender in order to "grow up."
Episode 1 "Gem Glow"
"Thus, for example, the process of growing up focused on adult child-rearing practices and on children’s internalization of adult skills and knowledge. The study of children's culture, however, allows us to shift the focus to children themselves. It provides an invaluable window onto kids' tastes and how children see and deal with a shifting cultural, social, and technological environment."
"Is the child a blank slate upon which culture is to be inscribed? Is the child the symbol for all that a culture aspires to?"
Breaking Gender Norms
- child raised by 3 non binary guardians
- shows homosexuality
- does not adhere to typical gender norms
-uses appropriate language to define the relationship between Ruby and Sapphire
- does not allow it to be ambiguous (legitimizes it)
Garnet's fused state is described as a relationship, as indicated in episode 7 season 2, "Love Letters."
-Clark & Higonnet - children's culture
& literature expresses an interplay
between masculinity & femininity
-It responds to repression by finding
alternative ways to describe reality
-repression - most children's shows encourage choosing/strictly defining gender
-Steven Universe encourages a process of self-discovery, accepting gender as non-binary
-children's culture uses nonlinear, contradictory ways of describing reality
-reality - coming of age and discovering gender
-nonlinear/contradictory = use of the "gems" as symbols of gender identity
Children's Culture is a Response