We never will know which shows will have a huge influence on us, but some of them just do.
Ben Bertoli wrote a solid article a couple of years back explaining the premise of Steven Universe (SU for short) and why it was so great.
And just today, The Picky Gamer wrote about taking a quiz to determine which crystal gem he was (also commentary on the campaign by Dove to promote positive self confidence in girls).
The inability to hyperlink is torturing me.... (or I just can’t find the ability to do so on mobile Kinja).
This (and something Picky wrote) got me thinking about putting some words down on why SU is so dang great (to me).
Note: this’ll get a bit personal, no details but if that isn’t your cuppa, then best move along.
A friend of mine recommended SU to me because she thought it’d be up my alley, with solid comedy and emotional heart that I generally like in my shows. After also hearing some of the (fantastic) songs, I gave it a try.
I wasn’t immediately sold on the show. The short, slice of life plots in the episodes were fine, but some of the things that the Fandom loved wasn’t quite my cup of tea (I still do not care for cookie cat, at all). As I watched more episodes, which was easy since they’re so short, I started to feel some emotional connection to the character of Pearl, whose neurotic tendencies made me grin at how similar they were to mine, as well as her adoration for the former leader of the crystal gems, Rose Quartz. I’m someone that tends to have trouble letting things go, so Pearl’s love for Rose (and jealousy against Greg, Steven’s father) was something I could relate to.
I also share her... Melodramatic and theatrical tendencies.
What really clicked for me was the appearance of another character, Lapis Lazuli. She’s a character that has PTSD from being trapped in a mirror for 500 years, harbored quite the grudge against the crystal gems and can be quite a jerk. She’s selfish, blunt, and harbors a lot of negativity toward the world around her.
Lapis was, and continues to be, very much myself (I can be, and am, quite the jerk in real life).
While Lapis has far more legetitmate reasons for her behavior than I do, she does have PTSD after all whereas I do not have anything of the sort, I could still relate to her anger and negativity against... A lot of things.
Things came to a greater head in the episode “Alone at Sea”, where Lapis reveals that she enjoyed controlling her fusion partner when Lapis was part of Malachite. While I can say I hated being a control freak or manipulator... Well, that kind of speaks for itself, huh?
It’s been years, but I’m not proud of the fact that I mistreated a fair number of people in my life. While I never had the intention to do so, hindsight and retrospectives have made me realize that my behavior was appalling. Sure, I was a (very) young adult (18-22) but that wasn’t, and isn’t, an excuse for my behavior. It still haunts me to this day and I continue to miss my friends that cut me out of their lives due to my behavior.
Lapis and Pearl maybe the characters I resonate with the most, but the title character is the one I look to.
Steven Universe is young, naive and kind hearted. He makes corny jokes, tries to see the best in people, and always tries to do the right thing. He is almost pure optimism. He tries his best to mend bridges, connect people and generally be a good boy. His positive outlook and behavior inspires me to be the best person I can be.
Does it work, trying to be a better person each and everyday? Sometimes. I still have real jerk moments and act like a massive asshole at times, but never to the extent I was before. However I try to be better. I try to always see the positive in others and share a bit of optimism, whether it’s through comments with strangers on the internet, or finding a balancing act to resolve conflicts between friends in real life. I try to see the silver lining in life, to always provide encourage to others, and to not spread negativity. Heck, a couple of months ago I stood up for a friend when a couple of our peers was bad mouthing her behind her back (unfortunately, calling out asshole behavior doesn’t make people immediately reflect on themselves lol); that’s something I never would’ve done before.
I won’t say SU is responsible for me trying to be a better person (there are so many factors in that, including repetence for my past), but it has a part.
The show itself can be childish and silly, it has some very annoying characters that I despise (Ronaldo....) and some characters that I adore (Lapis! Who is apparently really hated in the Fandom...). It has some real landmark moments for a television show aimed at kids (e.g. A very gay wedding, which was beautiful). It is a great show whose positive attitude and message is for anyone, of any gender, of any orientation and of any age.
Go check it out.