‘Steven Universe’: Love Knows No Age, Race, And Gender

Steven Universe is a show that is overflowing with love and emotions. It takes different kinds of love, relationships, and emotions, and breaks it down to a simpler and more unadulterated form that can appeal to kids of all ages. Steven Universe was actually created by Rebecca Sugar as a dedication to his brother, but it turns out, the show has become more of a guide on love and relationships that both kids and adults can learn from.

Steven Universe is the ultimate example of unconditional love, presented in a way that both kids and adults can understand and appreciate.

Steven Universe cast (via Rebecca Sugar blog)
Steven Universe cast (via Rebecca Sugar blog)

Exhibit A: Love knows no age. Technically, the crystal gems in Steven Universe are as old as time. Gems have been existing for thousands of years, yet, Rose Quartz and Greg fall in love with each other.

Rose Quartz and Greg’s relationship is also what makes Exhibit B: Love knows no race. The setting of Steven Universe is quite unexplained, but we know for a fact that humans and non-humans can co-exist on Earth. However, despite that fact, there is still a line drawn between humans and gems, mainly for the humans’ safety. Despite this difference in genetic material, quite literally in this case, Rose Quartz and Greg transcend boundaries and create a beautiful relationship. The relationship between Steven (a half-human, half-gem), and Connie also perfectly teach the viewers that there is no race when it comes to love. Connie doesn’t care if Steven is a half-freak or if he doesn’t grow normally like humans. All she knows is that she loves Steven for who he is, not what he is.

Exhibit C: Love knows no gender. This is the subject that has been immensely talked about in the case of Steven Universe. When Steven Universe came back in January this year, it did come back with a bomb–quite literally, in this context. Last January 4, Steven Universe came back with a beautiful episode on Ruby and Sapphire, the two gems that make up the much-loved Steven Universe character, Garnet. On the 74th episode of Steven Universe entitled, The Answer, Garnet tells Steven the story of how Ruby and Sapphire met and decided to “become” Garnet.

Ruby and Sapphire fuse for the first time (via Official Steven Universe tumblr)
Ruby and Sapphire fuse for the first time (via Official Steven Universe tumblr)

In the 52nd episode of Steven Universe, entitled “Jail Break,” the real identity of Garnet–which is a fusion of two gems Ruby and Sapphire–became known. This episode ignited the flame that is the LGBT tone in Steven Universe. While gems are technically agender, meaning they aren’t especially identified by a gender but merely portrayed femininely, a lot of people found the “relationship” between Ruby and Sapphire a clear indication of Steven Universe’ LGBT undertone. In fact, two members of the Steven Universe team already confirmed that Ruby and Sapphire’s relationship is, in fact, romantic. Joe Johnston, writer and storyboard artist for Steven Universe, answers the question, “are you allowed to tell us is Sapphire and Ruby’s love is romantic or more platonic?” with a very succinct “Romantic yo.” A former Steven Universe producer also tweets, “R & S are in a romantic relationship and I don’t believe any different.”

Queer love is further explored in the episode of Steven Universe, entitled “We Need to Talk,” where the romantic feelings of Pearl for Steven’s mother, Rose Quartz, was exemplified.

Pearl and Rose Quartz dance (screenshot of 'We Need to Talk')
Pearl and Rose Quartz dance (screenshot of 'We Need to Talk')

However, while some would praise Steven Universe for its bold take on relationships, highlighting especially the issue of queer and LGBT relationships, Cartoon Network itself is making sure its viewers are safeguarded from the notions of homosexual relationships. It became a huge issue when Cartoon Network UK edited the We Need To Talk episode for the UK screening of Steven Universe, downplaying the rather sensual dance of Pearl and Rose Quartz to a more “child-friendly” version.

In a statement made by Cartoon Network UK, as reported by Polygon, the reason for the editing is to make the show “more comfortable” for kids and their parents.

“Cartoon Network (in Europe) often shows amended versions of programs from US originals. The US broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating — in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.”

However, in fact, this action by Cartoon Network UK completely threw out the window the role of Steven Universe in its most liberal sense, and that is to make the statement that love is love regardless of gender, age, race, or whatever standards held by society.

Steven Universe fans who immensely appreciated the show’s progressive take on love were disappointed but Steven Universe, we are sure, will not stop from making its point: that love is love no matter what.

[Image via Rebecca Sugar’s blog]