Tag: opinion

Cartoon Network UK censoring Steven Universe's sexuality misses the entire point of the show

Contributed by
Jan 6, 2016, 6:15 PM EST

Steven Universe is gaaaaaaaay. It is easily the gayest kids' cartoon in the history of western animation. And we're not just talking about subtext, either. While Steven Universe may be innocent and cutesy, there's no denying certain facts:

- Garnet is a gem fusion that resulted from Sapphire and Ruby being in romantic love

- Pearl is in love with Rose Quartz (as confirmed by the show's creators), often to the detriment of her own self worth

- Amethyst shape-shifts into all sorts of forms, many of them male-presenting

- Steven and Connie have fuzed to form a genderqueer person, Stevonnie, who is, let's be real, attracted and attractive to both men and women

- Background characters often feature same-sex couples 

In short, Steven Universe is a rainbow show, kids. And everyone loves it for that.

Well, almost everyone ...

It turns out that Cartoon Network UK edited a recent episode of SU, "What Can I Do For You," in order to remove a dance sequence between two women. You can see the edit here (the edit happens around the 2:00 mark):


Basically, CN UK removed two women dancing in a way that is a little intimate. That isn't great, but what makes it worse is that, even though there is similar intimacy between a man and a woman, Greg and Rose, later in the same episode, that part remains intact. Plus, the edit itself places the focus on one of the few male characters on a show known for its diverse portryal of women protagonists.

So it isn't surprising that fans aren't pleased and see this edit as a censorship of queer characters. A petition was formed that pointed out all the issues I've already cited above and concluded "Please ask CN UK to stop censoring queer content in 'Steven Universe', and to restore Pearl and Rose's dance in future broadcasts in the UK and Europe."

The good news is, CN UK responded. The bad news is that they, at this moment, ain't budging. Here's what they had to say:

"Cartoon Network (in Europe) often shows amended versions of programs from US originals. The US broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating -in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents."

And that's ... well it's bull$#@!, isn't it? The reason Steven Universe is PG has just as much to do with the emotionally adult themes it deals with as it does the romantic stuff. In short, if you really wanted to edit out all the bits that make SU unsuitable for children, you might as well not air it at all.

But no. It's evident from the edit itself that what CN UK is afraid of is kids seeing gay people be, well, gay. And it's pretty wearisome watching them trot out this "think of the children" excuse. After all, hiding behind outdated puritanical views is America's beat! 

It's clear that most cartoons on the Cartoon Network and elsewhere deal with romantic entanglements between heterosexual couples and nobody raises an eyebrow. So let's call CN UK's excuse what it is -- a lie. Just say what you mean, folks. Say that bigoted parents will throw a fit if their kids see gay people existing anywhere ever and you'd just prefer to not have to deal with the headache. Or admit that you are a bigot. Either way, this has nothing to do with children who can only benefit from seeing as many diverse characters as possible.

Thankfully, the fans who wrote the initial petition have not given up hope. They're asking that people continue writing to CN UK, asking them why gay romantic scenes are being cut but hetero ones are not. They're asking that people bring up one of the latest Steven Universe episodes, "The Answer," and question how CN UK will deal with it since its entire narrative is a romantic love story between two women.

I hope you'll contact them as well. Because censoring queer characters because you think their existence is somehow "too adult" is damaging to LGBT kids and adults everywhere. Cartoon Network UK can and should be better than this.

(via Pink News)