If you know me at all from Christian Chat, you know I’ve pondered this subject many times. For anyone that doesn’t know, Steven Universe is a fantasy/adventure cartoon series that is currently running on Cartoon Network.
It chronicles the life of a young boy, Steven, who is the son of the leader of a race of aliens known as “gems.” He is watched by 3 guardians, aptly named after the gems in their bodies: Garnet, Pearl, and Amethyst. Being half human and half gem, Steven is raised by the three to unlock the powers locked inside his gemstone, which include making weapons and shields out of light. All the gems are female except for Steven, and unfortunately his mother Rose Quartz died giving birth to him. It’s a wonderfully animated cartoon that deals with love, grief, and emotions, and it has great action and music that makes you cry. (Or at least me cry.)
But the question is, despite its merit as a wonderfully made piece of art…should Christians watch it? Especially, should Christian parents let their children watch it? There are few lewd jokes, not much potty humor, and it’s not very violent. The point of contention is it’s relationships.
This is, to my knowledge, the first syndicated children’s cartoon to showcase canonically gay couples and expressions of homosexual love from main characters. The picture above shows such a couple, Ruby and Sapphire, who combine into one of Steven’s guardians: Garnet.
Gems have the ability to “fuse” with another gem to enhance their power, and this creation of an entirely new personality is used by the show to be an allegory of relationships. Many times it is said that Garnet “is their relationship.” The more in sync a relationship is, be it friendly or romantic, the more humanoid and “stable” the fusion becomes.
The show explores the notion of abusive relationships as well, in the form of a monsterous fusion called Malachite. She is the fusion of Jasper and Lapis Lazuli, who also have what look like hints of co-dependent homosexual relationship towards each other.
Many visual, verbal, and sight references are made to these kinds of relationships, and I haven’t even gotten to Pearl.
Pearl is probably the most flawed character of the series, but arguably my favorite behind Steven’s father Greg. On their home planet, Pearls were considered to be simple servants and nothing else. But Rose Quartz saw more in Pearl, and they both started a rebellion to save the earth from an invasion from the gem’s patriarchal leaders, the Diamonds. Because of this, Pearl became obsessed with the conservation of Rose, her mission, and her love as well. But after spending many years exiled to earth, Rose falls in love with a human named Greg, much to Pearl’s horror.
Pearl is however wholly dedicated to Rose, and takes care of Steven with the other gems despite constantly reminding him of Rose not being there because of him.
I can say for certain that there are many positives to this show.
One is body positivity in all the designs.
Many different races and body types are shown in this show, and none of them are shown as any less or more value than any other.
This show takes an unflinching look at grief and emotional depths. Never before have I seen a more human kids show…
Another is the notion of family. One thing you can tell that the creators were trying to relate, is that there is no such thing as a “perfect family.” Be it a family of 3 girls, their father and grandmother, or a single parent with an adult child, or in Steven’s case his 3 gem “moms” and his father.
The musical numbers are completely adorable. Gems and humans all sing, and even fusion itself is based off two gems dancing to synchronize into a new gemstone.
The art style is GORGEOUS. This is a background. A background.
Now the real question again, should we as Christians watch this show? It’s one that I really wrestle with. I love all the parts of it, except for the homosexuality, and little flecks of eastern influence every so often. That part isn’t as overt, but you know with the homosexual/bisexual “love everyone no matter what and nothing is wrong if it’s love” message is definitely what the creator is pushing for.
Are we supporting the agenda of homosexuality by watching it? Honestly when you watch something on tv, that is telling a creator to create more of that thing. I honestly think that children maybe shouldn’t watch it without a good sit down and explanation about what homosexuality is, and why it’s not what God wants for us.
What do you all think? Feel free to comment your thoughts.