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April 2016

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dr orpheus, venture bros

CALLING OUT HATERS: Korrasami and LGBTQ+ Representation in Kids Cartoons (SPOILERS)



I know the feeling Garnet.
Screenshots and Gifs taken by me, Gifs created using GifYouTube


SPOILER WARNING: This rant contains spoilers for Clarance, The Legend of Korra and Steven Universe, if you haven’t caught up on these shows than this may spoil things for you.

One rant I had originally planned on writing is about how there have been a lack of positive LGBTQ+ representation in children’s media, specifically kids TV shows… but then these events happened…

Kiss on the Cheek, Clarance

To be honest I have not seen this show, but putting aside from the fact the creator/former showrunner Skyler Page was revealed to be a sexist creep, I’ve heard a lot of good things.  One of them being a moment in which it shows two guys lovingly kissing another guy on the cheeks, to which one of the characters (Who was expecting a date) doesn’t react with disgust instead saying “Well that’s good.”  It’s a brief moment that doesn’t explicitly say they’re gay but still speaks a lot of volumes and probably the closest thing we have to an intimate moment between two gay characters.  There is also supposedly a moment which show’s a character having two moms but I haven’t seen that one yet.

Korrasami IS Canon, Legend of Korra

So the sequel series of Avatar: The Last Airbender came and gone, sadly with Nickelodeon screwing it over in its last two seasons.  But one thing that a great many seemed to be overjoyed with is how they decided to close off the romantic stuff that sadly was a pain in its early seasons… pair the characters who had the most chemistry together.  Korra and Asami Sato weren’t exactly the first attempt at romance on this show considering they first had a love triangle with a bland broody plank, but I think the writers got much better spark writing interactions between the two women than they ever had with Mako.  And it pretty much sailed right into the sunset as the final moments of the series were with Korra and Asami going into the spirit world holding hands looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, much like the last moments of Avatar were of Aang and Katara finally resolving a series-long romantic tension.

This is definitely rare because you would think that the show would have taken the atypical route and had one pair with Mako, in fact that is how Book One ended with him and Korra, and was going to be the end of the series had Nickelodeon not ordered three more seasons.  It’s one of those things the creators decided to do and at least I feel it worked, even if admittedly it isn’t quite perfect, even they don’t think so either.  As much as it’s great to see a canonical pairing of two bisexual characters there seems to be forces at work in this country (by which I mean network censors), who would never allow something to be explicitly said of such a pairing in a children’s cartoon.  We only get silent stares and loving kisses on the cheeks because I would imagine there would be fear that the show would be shut down by a bunch of conservative reactionary jackasses.  And this show has really seemed to just throw a lot of censor rules out the window as there are some brutal (albeit brief) deaths and not beating around the bush to serious consequences of actions.  When it came to the final canon pairing though, there still seems to be that stigma in which they can’t go far with it.

On the other hand speaking of censorship being thrown out the window…

Rather not spoil the fusion of what happens next


Stevonnie, Fusion Dancing and Steven Universe

Right now fresh on a lot of people’s minds is the Steven Universe episode “Together Alone” in which the titular character is being taught how to gem fuse yet ends up being a reflection of both gender identity and anxiety.  To lay it down (And I already put up the SPOILER warning) Steven and his friend/implied love interest Connie fuse to make a non-gender binary coded teenage-looking character named Stevonnie (Coined by Amethyst), ends up being the attraction of not just males but females, isn’t referred to any sort of gender pronouns, and is designed to inhabit the characteristics of both male and female where they don’t lean heavily to either side.  What works so well is not just seeing these two lovable dorks finding both the positives and the negatives of literally being one and the same, but how it brings together some commentary about people who choose not to associate with a gender binary and what sort of reaction they may face. 

Steven Universe in general seems to be pushing boundaries all the time, even earlier in the episode itself showing how gem fusion can be a little… heated, if it wasn’t enough subtext with Garnet’s dance moves in “Coach Steven”, certainly can be read with how Garnet and Pearl end up demonstrating a fusion to Steven.  With all the sexual and romantic tension read between the Gems, that doesn’t even seem to count as subtext.

Then there is another challenge to gender norms in Steven himself, he does have the interests of a little boy, but he also doesn’t frown upon anything girly, he even has a Sailor Moon manga in his drawer at one point.  Not to mention he looks up to three powerful women, excited at just about everything they do and excited to learn from them, literally having stars in his eyes in the process.  In fact a lot of these representations are really positive and not frowned upon.  There is a lot that is going on that’s positive with Steven Universe and I hope it only continues to be great in pushing that sort of boundaries in children’s television.

In fact I hope many modern children’s cartoons are able to push against the stigma of what is and what isn’t allowed.  That they can handle in a mature subject matter such as sexual orientation and gender identity.  It will certainly piss of the PTC’s of the world, but I would rather they get pissed than having networks to bend to their regressive wills every-time homosexuality is portrayed in a positive light.

If this makes me an SJW, then I don’t even know what the hell the term is.

End of Rant

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