Steven Universe (show)

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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 Cartoon Network. Episodes come in single eleven minute segments, with the exception of Steven Bombs which release several episodes at once. The story follows the titular character Steven, who goes on world-saving missions with Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl, all the while learning to use his inherited Gem powers. As the plot progresses more Gems are introduced and Steven gains more control over his powers. The show is noted for its fascinating world building, as well as its positive representation of gender, sexuality, and minorities.

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 its 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 character designs changed dramatically. Some early fans were displeased with these simpler designs, and there were rumors 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 could fuse together to 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 "Steven Bomb" was aired. The bomb format consisted of airing new episodes of Steven Universe daily during weekdays. It has become a consist means of releasing new episodes, however it has mixed opinions. While Steven Bombs mean several new episodes are released quickly, it also means that the series must take long breaks between bombs, similar to the practice of releasing whole seasons onto Netflix. Some fans wish for a more consistent release schedule while others enjoy Steven Bombs allowing arcs 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 have 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. For example, when a promo or after-episode advertisement is released by the Network, one may find these promos being tagged as "leaks" on Tumblr even though they are not leaks.

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] Before the Tumblr Purge the NSFW tag for Steven Universe was Stephen Galaxy.

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 have 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.[9] 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[10] [11] 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 (now known as Jesse Zuke) deleted their Twitter account following harassment by fans because of their 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] Zuke later left Steven Universe after the stress became too much for them to deal with. Despite leaving, they still received a decent amount of harassment, which could be cleary seen in the comment section of any Tumblr post they created. Lauren Zuke's Tumblr has since been flagged by the Tumblr algorthem as NSFW, as viewing it takes one to a page that says "This Tumblr may contain sensitive content."

In 2017, A child with cancer visited the Steven Universe studio through the Make-A-Wish Foundation and was given permission to talk about spoilers for future episodes of Steven Universe. AwestruckVox, a youtuber who makes videos about speculation and spoilers about cartoons, harassed the child for the spoilers.[12] The fandom was in an uproar about AwestruckVox picking on a child with cancer, and said child was given permission post them.

Another 2017 controversy occurred after the Steven Universe: Art and Origins book was released. In a section in which staff doodled random Gem designs along side bits of personality, a design seemed to depict a racist character of a black person[13]. The artist name had not originally be attached to the doodle, but Lamar Abrams later came out as the one who had drawn it. Rebecca Sugar apologized for having missed the doodle during the approval process for the book, and Abrams apologized for having drawn it without thinking.[14] The doodle was replaced by a different one in all copies of the book after that.

Steven Universe Critical

A movement which started out on Tumblr began to become wildly popular in 2017 along side these other controversies. This was the peek of what was called Steven Universe critical, or SU crit.[15] SU crit blogs became extremely popular, to a point where one could easily block over 100 in a day, if one were seeking to block them. The movement was characterized by in-fighting between blogs that were created to solely pick part mistakes in Steven Universe[16] and blogs that found this to be knit-picky.[17] While some SU crit blogs were created only to point out animation errors (which is often avidly debated on whether or not they are actual errors), a fair amount were run either by Tumblr users who began to hate watch Steven Universe or by users who wanted to complain about the shows and staff's choices as a whole. While some criticism were already well received in the fandom (such as having distaste with the human zoo), many of these criticisms began to cause fans to grow weary with the fanbase, as it became impossible to search through the Steven Universe tag without finding dozens upon dozens of nothing but negative comments about the show, its staff, and its characters, due to the sheer amount of SU crit blogs tagging their crit in the main tag. Steven Universe Critical is still a large community, however it is possibly not as popular as it once was.

Opinions between SU crit blogs is variable. While there are some opinions that are more popular, one will also find a large variety of criticism that teeters the line between being either educated critique or subjective personal issue with the show. For example, most Steven Universe critical blogs (and even a lot of non-crit blogs) would call the Diamonds imperialistic. However, one will only find SU crit blogs comparing the Diamonds to Nazis.[18] A famous Steven Universe Critical blogger who actively hate watches the show and posts her criticism directly into the SU Stan tag is Lily Orchid, a Youtuber who became known for a two hour long video about why she believes the show is garbage.

A look into the SU crit tag on Tumblr 2019 can reveal some of the communities opinions. Some include: The crew has run out of ideas,[19] Pink Pearl is too purple and doesn't look enough like Pink Diamond,[20] the crew would like the audience to sympathize with the Diamonds[21], Steven (as a boy)saves the day too much compared to the Gems (as women),[22] Pink Diamond is too skinny compared to how fat Rose Quartz is,[23] "Steven Universe has been and always will be racist,"[24] and many many more other varied opinions.

On the other end of the spectrum there are SU stans. A stan is the term used for someone who defends a subject matter regardless of its criticisms or issues. SU crit blogs often get flack from anti-SU crit users in the form of replies and Tumblr asks, either arguing against subjective SU crit opinions or occasionally defending the show tooth and nail. However, one may be hard pressed to find as many cases of legitimate[25] stans as there are SU crits. While a Tumblr search of the tag SU crit instantly pulls up an endless page of said crit, searching SU stan or anti SU crit does not actually reveal the intense praise one would assume of the title "stan." Instead, the SU stan tag is much more similar to the regular Steven Universe tag. Despite this many SU crit blogs feel that those who are not loudly vocal of their criticisms are ignoring the shows issues.[26] Anti-SU crit users, and the occasional anti-SU crit blog, are more so against the large and vocal SU crit movement than they are of critiquing the show.[27]

Steven Universe stans, anti-crit users, and casual Steven Universe fans hold their own beliefs, just as the SU crit blogs do. However, as previously mentioned these "stans" are more frequently against the crit movement itself and not the actual critique. Thus the majority of anti-crit opinions are going to be based around what they think of the crit movement, with sprinklings of praise for the show itself. The complaints one will find the most are: the creation of crit blogs is detrimental to the creator of said blogs simply for needing a constant stream of negative content in order to run it, much of the su-crit movement is knit-picky, much of the su-crit movement is actually based on personal squicks rather than educated critique, some SU crit blogs just hate watch when they could instead watch content they enjoy, and many many more varied opinions (needs citations).

Because these "stans" are usually against the crit movement rather than the criticism itself, one may find the handful of anti-crit blogs are actually labeled as Steven Universe positivity blogs. This is likely in reference to the original boom in SU crit blogs flooding the normal Steven Universe tags in 2017. Anti-crit users found the flood of negative posts about their favorite show to be draining, thus the creation of positivity blogs to counter act the negativity blogs began.[28]

Tropes and Fanon

  • Gemsona: many fans have developed their own gem personas or gem OC's, also known as "gemsonas"[29] Series creator Rebecca Sugar also encouraged this in a AMA [30]
  • 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[31] and, as of the hiatus, is often depicted as just a head with two, tiny stick legs.[32]
  • Making covers and mashups of the songs in the show is very popular
  • The cast are commonly referred to as "Gay Space Rocks" [33]

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[34]
  • Ronaldo is actually right [35]
  • The temple is a sculpture of the fusion of Rose Quartz, Garnet, Amethyst and Pearl [36]
  • Evil Onion[37]
  • The Sour Cream - Onion family [38]
  • Lars is trans [39]
  • The two corrupted gems that Jasper fights with were once Crystal Gems[40]
  • Unknown/former Crystal Gem "Snowflake" is Snowflake Obsidian[41]
  • 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. 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. It was later revealed that Pearl/Rose Quartz was canon, however it was likely one-sided on Pearl's part. In the season 1 finale, Garnet was revealed to be a fusion of two other gems, Ruby and Sapphire, with Garnet representing their love for each other. Ruby/Sapphire went to be one of the most popular ships in the fandom due to their love for one another, ability to communicate, and because they were the first non-binary lesbian couple to openly love one another and kiss in a Cartoon Network cartoon.

The season 1 finale introduced Jasper, who alongside Peridot and Lapis Lazuli were 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 began living together, leading the pairing to quickly join 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

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. Know Your Meme, Zamii070 Harassment Controversy (Accessed 11 Jan 2018)
  10. Dailydot, Steven Universe Fanartist Bullied Controversy (Accessed 17 Sep 2016)
  11. BleedingCool, Attempted Suicide Reported Of Steven Universe Fan Artist Targeted By Social Media (Accessed 11 Jan 2018)
  12. >Steven Universe - Found This On /sug/
  13. https://www.bleedingcool.com/2017/07/16/rebecca-sugar-apologises-steven-universe-racism-controversy/ Dated July 16, 2017 (Accessed 12/18/19)
  14. https://neo-rama.tumblr.com/post/163009187663 (Accessed 12/18/19)
  15. https://www.reddit.com/r/stevenuniverse/comments/75lfr8/what_is_su_critical/ Dated 2017 (Accessed 12/18/19)
  16. https://su-critical.tumblr.com/post/174286956830/final-su-takes-from-mod-miqi (Accessed 12/18/19)
  17. https://themadcapmathematician.tumblr.com/post/182219103193/the-thing-that-still-infuriates-me-still-about (Accessed 12/18/19)
  18. https://disgustedorite.tumblr.com/post/178484389466/let-me-emphasize-again-believing-that-a-show (Accessed 12/18/19)
  19. https://nora-auniverse.tumblr.com/post/189683064490/hot-take (Accessed 12/18/19)
  20. https://anarchy-punk.tumblr.com/post/188908523807/i-redesigned-pink-pearl-cuz-1-her-hair-doesnt (Accessed 12/18/19)
  21. https://sucrithiccal.tumblr.com/post/182206323390/so-the-diamonds-are-really-just-good-now-i (Accessed 12/18/19)
  22. https://scooter-omniverse.tumblr.com/post/186024127849/mm-for-a-girl-powered-show-stevie-boy-sure-gets (Accessed 12/18/19)
  23. https://igelfullmetal.tumblr.com/post/181752951149/one-of-my-biggest-problems-with-pink-diamond-is (Accessed 12/18/19)
  24. https://purgatorian-princess.tumblr.com/post/187540719846/literally-i-dont-care-abt-the-fucking-messages (Accessed 12/18/19)
  25. https://trans-apostate-anders.tumblr.com/post/189081973728/i-hate-the-term-su-stans-cause-it-implies-su-is (Accessed 12/19/19)
  26. https://lily-orchard.tumblr.com/post/187501475315/su-stans-this-show-is-so-deep-and-revolutionary (Accessed 12/19/19)
  27. https://ankle-beez.tumblr.com/post/162709226222/su-critical-couldve-been-really-useful-like (Accessed 12/18/19)
  28. https://no-su-crit-here.tumblr.com/post/158713940691/if-anyone-out-there-is-looking-for-a-steven Dated March 2017 (Accessed 12/19/19)
  29. The World Of Steven Universe. "Steven Universe - U.G.R.V. (Clip) Say Uncle." YouTube. YouTube, 02 Apr. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2015.
  30. 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!
  31. "The stupid green space dorito joke!" Steven Universe Wiki. Wikia. 15 March 2015. Web. 17 May 2015.
  32. 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.)
  33. Gay Space Rocks
  34. stanford-pines. Can you talk more about garnet being a fusion?, posted to tumblr on 15 January 2015. (Accessed 23 February 2015.)
  35. jackdoe. sometimes the crackpot can hit it right on the head, posted to tumblr on 5 February 2015. (Accessed 23 February 2015)
  36. sheereleganceinitssimplicity. 4-way fusion, posted to tumblr on 30 January 2015. (Accessed 23 February 2015)
  37. ectoviolet. A very serious theory, posted to tumblr on March 2015. (Accessed 2 April 2015)
  38. CalRaen. Sour Cream.....AND Onion..... , posted to Reddit on 10 April 2015. (Accessed 12 April 2015)
  39. ectoviolet. LARS IS TRANS PASS IT ON, posted to tumblr on February 2015. (Accessed 29 April 2015)
  40. 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)
  41. Snowflake is referencing Snowflake Obsidian, posted to tumblr on 5 August 2016. (Accessed 23 September 2016)