In the thirty-seventh episode of the first season ofÂ Steven Universe, I am certain this show will end me. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Steven Universe.
Gods bless this whole show, THAT WAS INCREDIBLE. Iâ€™m still reeling from the experience of meeting Stevonnie for the first time, especially since the implications of them are REALLY, REALLY QUEER. Likeâ€¦ gender? Sexuality? The complexity of both addressed in a way that isnâ€™t patronizing or condescending??? WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO MY WORLD???
I am deeply Steven and I am deeply Connie. Truthfully, I adore dancing, and when I can let go of my own anxieties and self-doubt, I have a lot of fun doing it. But Iâ€™m also clumsy and lack a great deal of physical coordination. (Iâ€™ve decided to blame it on when my inner ear got damaged as a kid from an ear infection. Iâ€™ve had balance issues and have difficulty judging distance or depth when it comes to eyesight.) My brain just doesnâ€™t understand how the world is physically arranged. (But give me math or complex philosophical arguments and I am GOOD.) (I hate math, though, WHO INVENTED THAT.)
I want to be a better dancer, but Iâ€™m so damn self-conscious about it. Itâ€™s not a good look, especially since I am so confident about many other things! So thereâ€™s a part of me that wasÂ alwaysÂ going to adore â€œAlone Togetherâ€ because itâ€™s about fighting the urge to be afraid of dancing. Steven is nowhere near as coordinated as the rest of the Crystal Gems, and he doesnâ€™t even necessarily getÂ betterÂ by the episodeâ€™s end. Once more, it takes him being himself andÂ trustingÂ himself for his first fusion to take place, and that certainty is the only thing that reliably works!
The truth is that Garnet could not be closer to the truth: Stevonnie is anÂ experience. (Iâ€™m pretty sure I imagined Janelle Monaeâ€™s â€œWhat an Experienceâ€ playing in the background.) I am going to maintain that no gem is more supportive of Steven than Garnet, and I adore that she consistently believes in him. She is the only Crystal Gem to vocalize that support, and then, when Steven achieves Stevonnie, she is LITERALLY the happiest we have ever seen her. IT IS A BEAUTIFUL THING TO WITNESS.
I just donâ€™t even know where to begin with Stevonnie. They were such an unexpected thing on this show, and, like the Gems, I was completely bewildered by them. Thatâ€™s a good thing, though, and I love what the show did with this character. Stevonnie is drawn without existing solely in one part of the gender binary or the other. In fact, this is perhaps the first non-binary character Iâ€™ve come across in Mark Watches history, though I hesitate to make that judgment because Stevonnieâ€™s gender isnâ€™t ever named. But from the art, to the voice acting, to the INCREDIBLE way that Stevonnie interacts with the people of Beach Cty, I remained blown away by â€œAlone Together.â€
Letâ€™s talk about Lars and Sadie, for instance. It is undeniable that they were both flabbergasted by Stevonnieâ€™s beauty, soâ€¦ that is amazing??? Canonical evidence of non-heterosexual attraction? And neither character is demonized for said attraction??? IS THIS REALLY HAPPENING? What does this men for both of these characters???
Oh my god, and the rave scene. THE RAVE SCENE. I was so floored by how the scene introducing it (when Sour Cream invited them) because it helped to show that things were more complicated than a binary, while also Â showing us that Steven, Connie, and Stevonnie were three separate beings. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with them wanting to be apart! Having another person physically alongside you is often the best way to combat loneliness, and it worked to help Connie let go of her anxieties around dancing. I canâ€™t imagine what being a fusion is like, but at the same time, I suspect that the writers ofÂ Steven UniverseÂ are using the real world to inform whatâ€™s written here. Who else has felt like they donâ€™t belong because their body is different? Or because what you felt and experienced set you apart from the rest of the world? WHO ELSE IS RIDICULED WITH ANXIETY AND IS DEEPLY CONCERNED WITH HOW LITERALLY EVERYONE PERCEIVES THEM?
I love that Connie is now part of the Gem world. I love that we have an episode that is so respectful of these experiences. I LOVE STEVONNIE BUT MAYBE NOT MORE THAN GARNET, OH MY GOD. I still canâ€™t get over howÂ happyÂ she was.
The video for â€œAlone Togetherâ€ can be downloadedÂ here for $0.99.
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