For nearly a decade, Disney Animation Studios had completely lost its mojo. The once groundbreaking, trendsetting, undisputed champion of animation had become a factory for bland, uninspiring films that elicited a collective ‘meh’ from the general public. Granted, they were distributing Pixar’s, but as far as in-house creativity, the well seemed dry.
Then, beginning in 2009 with The Frog Prince, they’ve gone 11 years with an impressive track record, proving there’s still magic in the mouse house. It’s obviously too early to tell, but Raya and the Last Dragon looks like it may be another solid offering.
And with a supporting role in the film, it will continueAwkwafina’s complete takeover of Hollywood.
One of the most important things about Steven Universe – both on a broader cultural level and a deep personal level for many – is what it means to people in the LGBTQIA+ communities, as well as other communities underrepresented in the myopic mainstream cultural lens.
SU was created and run by a nonbinary, bisexual genius; it tells stories (including the overarching narrative) written from queer perspectives; it normalizes queer characters while also making them visible to kids; and it depicts queer joy when all too often queer characters are written as exclusively tragic, suffering figures.
As a cisgender, heterosexual man, that’s not my story to tell, but I believe it would be unforgivable to leave the beautiful queerness of Steven Universe unsung. So, I’m linking to essays/articles/posts by people with a personal connection to this aspect of the show. Every single one of these links is well worth your time, and if you want to find more, they don’t even represent the tip of the content iceberg.
Steven Universe creator has done more for LGBTQ visibility than you might know – “We need to let children know that they belong in this world,” [Sugar] says. “You can’t wait to tell them that until after they grow up or the damage will be done. You have to tell them while they’re still children that they deserve love and that they deserve support and that people will be excited to hear their story. When you don’t show any children stories about LGBTQIA characters and then they grow up, they’re not going to tell their own stories because they’re gonna think that they’re inappropriate and they’re going to have a very good reason to think that because they’ve been told that through their entire childhood.”
The Queer Ecology of Steven Universe– “Steven Universe offers a narrative of living with without resignation: living with failure, living with damage, and living with hope. Its queer ecological ethic demands action and imagines efforts that aren’t perfect and are still better than what we had before.”
This one isn’t from a queer perspective, but I included it anyway:
How Steven Universe Taught Me to Embrace My Neurodivergent Identity – “This repeated theme of learning to accept our differences in how we look, think, and love as a strength, not a weakness, is why Steven Universe has become so popular, especially with members of the LGBTQ and neurodivergent communities. For kids, teens and adults who felt their identities to be a source of shame, Steven Universe provided not only a safe, colorful world which showed characters struggling with those same issues and growing from them, but also a thriving, passionate community of like-minded fans.
Folks, Toy Story 3 is legit. I guess we should expect nothing less from Pixar, but damn, where do these folks come from?
I was a little worried, a three film run is usually too much to ask when it wasn’t originally conceived as a trilogy or serial, but this is the best of the three. It was a fitting and emotional way to end the story they began 15 years ago. (Although, it isn’t quite the end.)