In the thirty-sixth episode of the first season of Steven Universe, this is your fault. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Steven Universe.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of gaslighting.
So, because this episode has ruined my very existence, I’m going to split it up into two parts to address the two major things I got out of “Warp Tour.” One of those is not me telling stories about going to the Warped Tour growing up, though… I’m tempted. That tour used to mean a lot to me until my music tastes stopped aligning with the kind of bands they hosted.
Anyway, another time!
Mother Knows Best
This episode has now provided me with a fantastic example of how parents can and often do gaslight their own children. Not only that, but it demonstrates just how confusing and detrimental that behavior is! I say this as someone who was gaslight by their mother for well over a decade about practically everything in their life, so much so that it wasn’t until I started comparing memories with my brother in my 20s. That’s when I came to understand just how badly my mother had convinced me that her perception of the world was correct.
Now, I’m not setting this up to make the same accusation of Pearl because what she does here is nowhere near the same level that I was subjected to. Her gaslighting of Steven is much more casual, and she does it out of her perceived superior knowledge. Obviously, she knows way more about the Gems and Gem science than Steven does. No one questions that! But as soon as Steven presents her with an experience that does not fit her view of the world. Initially, that’s not really a cruel thing; Steven has a very active imagination, and it was possible that he might have seen something that was nothing.
The problem is that as Steven asserts his experience more and more, Pearl stops saying that maybe he imagined it and moves to, “You definitely imagined it and I know what you saw.” Which is downright impossible! You can never know what a person saw or experienced, not in the sense that Pearl describes. It made me sad to see how Steven reacted to this, too! He couldn’t sleep, then he tried to stay up all night to guard the warp pad from whatever he saw in that other stream. The show even depicts the redness around and in his eyes from sleep deprivation! He was fucked up by this experience. And look, I was gonna say, “Sorry for getting so serious here,” but you know what? Steven Universe might be a silly, animated show, but it’s brought up a ton of “serious” issues along the way. IT’S FAIR GAME.
And the reason I want to talk about this is that it’s easy to assume that there’s not a physical side effect of something like gaslighting, but that’s definitely not true. This shit hurts, and it can often cause paranoia and anxiety, which also can manifest in VERY physical ways. STEVEN STOPPED SLEEPING BECAUSE HE WAS SO SCARED. So I’m glad that Garnet not only believed Steven, but told him that she was sorry for not believing him in the first place. That is so important, y’all! Steven just wanted to be believed, and if someone had just stuck their head outside the warp stream, they would have seen the other streams forming.
I don’t even know what to say because I DON’T REALLY EVEN KNOW WHAT I JUST SAW. I didn’t think that we’d get such a huge update in this show’s mythology, and I CERTAINLY DIDN’T THINK I WOULD GET ONE THAT WOULD BE SO UPSETTING. Just… what the fuck??? WHY DON’T THE GEMS WANT TO GO TO THE HOMEWORLD? I thought Pearl longed for the day when all the warp pads would work! Peridot’s robo thingies (Did they say the name??? I can’t rememeber!) could have provided her with that.
Instead, as Steven discovers what he saw in the other stream and the whole team finds out that someone from the Gem homeworld has made it to Earth, they all hide in fear. Why wouldn’t they rush out to greet one of their fellow Gems???
This episode changes my whole perception of Steven Universe, and goddamn, that is a bold thing to do. It’s not even that the Crystal Gems have been lying so much as they’ve been concealing a huge part of their history from Steven. There has to be a reason they’re on Earth, there has to be reason why there are so many Gems corrupted and left behind, and there has to be a reason that Garnet would smash the newly-repaired warp pad to prevent any more Gems like Peridot from coming to Earth.
I DON’T GET IT. I’M SCARED.
The video for “Warp Tour” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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