Steven Universe

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Fandom
Name: Steven Universe
Abbreviation(s): SU
Creator: Rebecca Sugar
Date(s): November 4, 2013 – present
Medium: television
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: Official Site
Wikipedia
Steven Universe Wiki
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Steven Universe is an animated adventure/comedy/fantasy series on the Cartoon Network. The story follows the titular character as he learns to use his own Gem powers while going on world-saving missions with personified gems who fuse together to fight the forces of evil. The show has a huge amount of fascinating worldbuilding and backstory, and is noted for its positive representation of female, minority and LGBT characters and voice actors.

Characters

Main characters

Recurring characters

Fandom

Steven Universe's fandom started to form after the first pilot aired in 2013. There was interest in the series as it's creator, Rebecca Sugar, had worked as a storyboard artist and writer on Adventure Time, and additionally had become the first woman to be a creative lead on a cartoon at Cartoon Network. Once the show was greenlit, the art direction and characters designs changed dramatically. This cause some early fans to be displeased with the new, simpler designs as well as rumours within the fandom that Cartoon Network had forced the change after giving the team a smaller budget. These turned out to be untrue and merely a reflection of the process of creating an animated series,[1] however discussion around the art style continued for some time.

After the airing of episode 12 "Giant Woman" in which it was shown that two or more gems can fuse together and form a new gem, known as a fusion, fans began to speculate which gems would fuse next, what gem they would form and what the design would look like. Much of the fan activity started to take place on Tumblr and in 2014, Steven Universe was ranked number nine in the Top 20 "most reblogged" animated television show on Tumblr.[2].

In 2015 the first "StevenBomb" was aired, the bomb format consists of airing new episodes of Steven Universe daily during a regular work week. It has become a consist means of releasing new episodes, however it has mixed opinions within the fandom as it often means the series goes on many short breaks between bombs. Some fans wish for a more consistent release schedule as they grow frustrated with the long pauses between episodes, others enjoy the format as it allows for arcs that take place over several episodes to be viewed over one weeks instead of several. 2015 and 2016 also marked Steven Universe becoming the top ranked "most reblogged" animated television show on Tumblr.[3][4]

Episodes being leaked early has also become a hot topic of discussion at various points. The show has become notorious for leaks of full episodes, or particularly spoiler heavy previews, days or weeks before an episodes air date. Some communities have formed around these leaks, such as r/SULeaks, in order to be able to freely discuss them without spoiling others. The frequent leaks has also lead to some misunderstandings within the fandom as to what is considered a true leak and what is merely promotional material that Cartoon Network did intend to release.

Maintaining the Fandom

Though the fandom suffers from the same drama and wank as any fandom, there has been a concerted effort to maintain the fandom as a safe and welcome place for all fans. In consideration to the target demographic (kids and tweens), separate spaces have been created for any NSFW fan content.[5] When the brony community began showing serious interest in the show, the fandom largely reacted negatively for fear that the show would fall to the same fate as My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.[6] Bronies were encouraged to instead just become part of the larger fandom, rather than segregating themselves.[7] Ultimately, the brony portion of the fandom took to using the titles/tags "gemtlemen" or "gembros".

Controversies

While efforts have been made to keep the fandom safe and welcoming, there has been several controversies surrounding the show and it's community. io9 notes that, "while most of the Steven Universe fandom is supportive and welcoming, there is a small subsection that's known for being extreme and hostile under the guise of inclusiveness".[8]

In 2015, a fan artist, Zamii, attempted suicide after she was bullied through tumblr and other social media because of how some perceived her art to be fatphoic and racist. At the time, members within the fandom created multiple receipt blogs collecting examples of her art solely to claim it was problematic/offensive. Ian Jones-Quartey, Steven Universe's then co-producer, weighed in with a now-deleted tweet, saying artists should be allowed to draw what they want. This only escalated the accusations, now against the show's creative team, of supporting racism and pedophilia within fanart and art in general. There was no definitive conclusion to the event however it was reported on by several news outlets[9] and remains a polarizing moment within the fandom, earning its reputation of how extreme it can be.

In 2016, storyboard artist and writer Lauren Zuke deleted her Twitter account following harassment by fans because of her perceived support for Lapis Lazuli/Peridot over other ships such as Amethyst/Peridot. The entire kerfuffle was based on subjective fan interpretation of some leaked art and had more to do with fans' headcanon than the artists' intentions.[8]

Tropes and Fanon

  • Gem OC's; many fans have developed their own gem personas, also known as "gemsonas"[10] Series creator Rebecca Sugar also encouraged this in a AMA [11]
  • Referring to Garnet as "Square Mom" (because of the shape of her afro) and Pearl as "Bird Mom" (because of the shape of her nose).
  • Peridot is often described as a dorito[12] and, as of the hiatus, is often depicted as just a head with two, tiny stick legs.[13]
  • Making covers and mashups of the songs in the show is very popular
  • The cast are commonly referred to as "Gay Space Rocks" [14]

Fan theories

There are several popular fan theories, some of which may have been verified as the show progressed. Theories and speculation are a popular topic covered by fans on youtube, with many channels dedicated to the topic. Some theories include:

  • Garnet is a fusion[15]
  • Ronaldo is actually right [16]
  • The temple is a sculpture of the fusion of Rose Quartz, Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl [17]
  • Evil Onion[18]
  • The Sour Cream - Onion family [19]
  • Lars is trans [20]
  • The two corrupted gems that Jasper fights with were once Crystal Gems[21]
  • Unknown/former Crystal Gem "Snowflake" is Snowflake Obsidian[22]
  • Steven Universe Theory Masterpost

Shipping

Shipping within the fandom started early around season 1 with most of the Crystal Gems being paired with each other, as well as Greg Universe/Rose Quartz thanks to their canon relationship. Pearl/Amethyst gained popularity after the episode "Giant Woman" showed they could form the fusion Opal, and Garnet/Pearl had a steady following thanks to their interactions. The episode "Rose's Scabbard" also introduced the pairing of Pearl/Rose Quartz, which had previously been hinted at. In the season 1 finale, Garnet was raveled to also be a fusion of two other other gems, Ruby and Sapphire, with Garnet repesenting their love for each other. Ruby/Sapphire went to be one of the most popular ships in the fandom.

The season 1 finale also introduced Jasper, who alongside Peridot and Lapis Lazuli were all paired together similarly to the Crystal Gems. Lapis Lazuli/Jasper, Lapis Lazuli/Peridot and Peridot/Jasper all had followings. Come season 3, Lapis and Peridot were made to reconcile their differences and begin living together leading the pairing to quickly joined Ruby/Sapphire as one of the most popular in the fandom.

Many of the pairings in this fandom are referred to in portmanteau format. Hence, Ruby/Sapphire is called Rupphire, Lapis Lazuli/Peridot is Lapidot and so on. This is only made somewhat confusing by the fact that two or more gems can also fuse together and become a whole new gem with a new name.

Terminology

Notable fanworks

Fanfic

Fanart

Meta

Vids

Zines

  • LogDate2016 - A fan illustrated Zine dedicated to Peridot.

Archives & Fannish Links

Reddit Communities

Tumblr

Wikia

Resources

References

  1. Why did you guys change the style (Steven Universe)? Was it because of low budgets?
  2. 2014 Most Reblogged TV: Animated
  3. 2015 Most Reblogged Animated TV
  4. Top TV Shows (Animated)
  5. meekbot. NSFW su art will now be found under the "stephen galaxy" tag, posted to tumblr on 3 March 2015. (Accessed 13 April 2015.)
  6. TheAnt Equestria Daily launching a Steven Universe site soon, posted on 13 March 2015 at knowyourmeme. (Accessed 13 April 2015.)
  7. Tweet by Matt Burnett, on March 16, 2015. (Accessed April 13, 2015.)
  8. 8.0 8.1 io9, Steven Universe Artist Quits Twitter Over Fan Harassment (Accessed 17 Sep 2016)
  9. Dailydot Steven Universe Fanartist Bullied Controversy (Accessed 17 Sep 2016)
  10. The World Of Steven Universe. "Steven Universe - U.G.R.V. (Clip) Say Uncle." YouTube. YouTube, 02 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.
  11. I am Rebecca Sugar, creator of Steven Universe, and former Adventure Time storyboarder, AMA!
    pearlgirl413: Hi Rebecca! I'm a huge fan of your work! One thing I'm a little curious about is what's your opinion on the gemsonas? (People recreating themselves as crystal gems/Crystal Gem Fan Characters)
    RebeccaSugar[S]: I love them. I love them! Please make them, and fuse them with each other!
  12. "The stupid green space dorito joke!" Steven Universe Wiki. Wikia. 15 March 2015. Web. 17 May 2015.
  13. mechandra, burninghonesty. THE ONLY PLACE SHE CAN SMILE IS IN A MODEL SHEET, posted and reblogged on tumblr on 15 May 2015. (Accessed 17 May 2015.)
  14. Gay Space Rocks
  15. stanford-pines. Can you talk more about garnet being a fusion?, posted to tumblr on 15 January 2015. (Accessed 23 February 2015.)
  16. jackdoe. sometimes the crackpot can hit it right on the head, posted to tumblr on 5 February 2015. (Accessed 23 February 2015)
  17. sheereleganceinitssimplicity. 4-way fusion, posted to tumblr on 30 January 2015. (Accessed 23 February 2015)
  18. ectoviolet. A very serious theory, posted to tumblr on March 2015. (Accessed 2 April 2015)
  19. CalRaen. Sour Cream.....AND Onion..... , posted to Reddit on 10 April 2015. (Accessed 12 April 2015)
  20. ectoviolet. LARS IS TRANS PASS IT ON, posted to tumblr on February 2015. (Accessed 29 April 2015)
  21. Pictured: The two corrupted gems in Gem Hunt, next to Crazy Lace Agate and Biggs Jasper., posted to tumblr on 1 August 2016. (Accessed 23 September 2016)
  22. Snowflake is referencing Snowflake Obsidian, posted to tumblr on 5 August 2016. (Accessed 23 September 2016)