On Thursdays, we read reviews or news stories about art or design and study the language used in them. This week’s article is about Steven Universe, and its cartoonist Rebecca Sugar.
Here are the first four paragraphs from Variety, in italics.
The “Steven Universe” universe is reeling, hopeful and excited from the season five story arc, with Ruby proposing to Sapphire on the July 4 episode. The Cartoon Network series has always set out to embrace underrepresented communities, albeit in cartoon form, and issues that children (and adults) find hard to talk about.
Rebecca Sugar, the creator of “Steven Universe,” says, “I trust children very much. I always feel that children will understand, because children are still learning,” adding that “the whole thing [“Steven Universe”] is a catalyst for conversation.”
Animation lover Sugar notes that she had never seen cartoon characters that “looked like me,” a non-binary person.
And with season five’s “The Question,” Ruby and Sapphire not only explore their relationship and who they as individuals but also, Sugar notes, the goal was to go beyond the classic cartoon couples in which one is a male version of, say, a rabbit and the female half of the couple just has eyelashes. “I wanted to really create an image of a queer couple that makes sense together,” Sugar says. “Usually the couple is a man and a woman. But you don’t show that love can exist between two men or two women. I wanted to create equal-opportunity love stories for children,” says Sugar.
In the first paragraph, we learn that something important happened in the story arc of Steven Universe on July 4th. A story arc is a story that takes a long time to tell, so in television, there may be a story arc that lasts a whole season or even the entire life of the show. The news is that one of the characters in the show, a gem named Ruby, proposed to another gem character, named Sapphire, which means asked her to get married.
This news is complex for two reasons. First, these characters are gems (valuable stones with no gender) but look like people, and they have special powers. Secondly, they are both spoken about as female characters, and it’s not yet common to see gay and lesbian couples in cartoons. This is the meaning of the phrase underrepresented communities –groups of people that are not usually represented (shown) in popular forms of entertainment. We see the phrase set out to embrace, which means it’s always been their goal to accept all kinds of people, even though they’re in cartoon form. They also want to talk about issues that children (and adults) find hard to talk about, like homosexuality.
In the second paragraph, we see a quote by the cartoonist for Steven Universe, Rebecca Sugar. She shares her goals for the show and says that she thinks children will be more understanding and accepting of the idea of a same-sex couple than adults because they are still learning. She also wants the show to be an opportunity for conversation about the topic.
In the third paragraph, we see the phrase animation lover. It’s very common to use this phrasing to show that you love something, like a chocolate lover or a dog lover. We also learn that Sugar describes herself as a non-binary person, which means not just female or male, but a combination of the two genders. She created the characters in Steven Universe to represent people that “looked like” her and were not obviously male or female.
In the fourth paragraph, she explains more about this way of depicting the characters and how it is different from traditional cartoons. She uses the word queer to describe the couple. Historically, this word has been used as an insult against the LGBTQ community, but they have started to reclaim it, which means they use it themselves to make it less powerful and less negative. The phrase makes sense means something that is logical or easy to understand. She also uses the phrase equal-opportunity, which means that everyone has the same chance at an opportunity. She is saying that since we don’t normally see love stories about same-sex couples, she wanted to give children a chance to see those relationships as equal to opposite-sex relationships.
It’s always important to use English correctly, but it’s even more so when you’re making work that challenges tradition. Correctly explaining your message is crucial when you’re trying to change what’s accepted by society. A good language coach can help you to be sure you’re saying exactly what you intend.
At Artglish, we help artists and designers to describe their work with the best vocabulary and language possible. Every Thursday we study reviews and articles to share useful words and phrases to help you improve your reading and writing skills. If you want to learn more, click here to join The Studio and try some free ways to improve your English, or check out our Lessons page to learn how Artglish can help you succeed.
I’ve chosen 5 words or phrases for you to focus on today. They are in bold. If you don’t know them, look up the meaning, synonyms, antonyms, and other forms of these words. You can find links to Merriam-Webster dictionary sites at the bottom of this page.
To read the original article, written by Carole Horst on July 5, 2018, click the link below:
If you would like to know more about LGBTQ terms, click the link below: