Animated cartoons, fan art, same-sex love

… and Pride time … also Opal Armstrong Zwicky, who yesterday posted this:

Fan art of Opal from Steven Universe! She’s one of my favorite characters (and no, not just because her name is also Opal):

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(Yes, the animated Opal has four arms; she’s also an archer.)

From Wikipedia:

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Steven Universe is an American animated television series created by Rebecca Sugar for Cartoon Network. It is the coming-of-age story of a young boy named Steven Universe, who lives in the fictional town of Beach City with the “Crystal Gems” – Pearl, Garnet, and Amethyst, three magical humanoid aliens. Steven, who is half-Gem, goes on adventures with his friends and helps the Gems protect the world from their own kind. Sugar developed the series while working as a writer and storyboard artist on Adventure Time, and it premiered on November 4, 2013 as Cartoon Network’s first animated series to be solely created by a woman.

The series has been much censored in certain countries and by certain stations, for its violence, dirty jokes (mostly dick jokes: the arcade game Meat Beat Mania, the Wiener in Hand hot dog stand), and (most often) its depiction of same-sex love (as well as, and on a par with, cross-sex love). I don’t see that Steven Universe is more violent than most action cartoons for kids, and the dick jokes are juvenile, but then the intended audience is juveniles, and they traffic in this kind of humor. As for the same-sex love interests, here’s a piece of a PinkNews (U.K. gay) story from 6/19/16, “Steven Universe creator explains why she’s putting LGBT characters in kids’ TV” by Nick Duffy:

The creator of TV series ‘Steven Universe’ has explained why she put openly LGBT characters in the show.

The popular American animated cartoon series has won acclaim from fans for its portrayal of queer characters, with gem characters Ruby and Sapphire portrayed as a couple.

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Ruby and Sapphire

Another pairing,  Pearl and Rose Quartz, have also had flirtations – enough for the UK broadcast of the show to edit out a same-sex dance between the pair.

Speaking to Movie Pilot, the show’s creator Rebecca Sugar explained the value of the relationships.

She said: “You can’t wait until kids have grown up to let them know that queer people exist.

“There’s this idea that that is something that should only be discussed with adults — that is completely wrong. If you wait to tell queer youth that it matters how they feel or that they are even a person, then it’s going to be too late!”

Sugar pointed out that Disney films have featured romantic themes and heteronormative love from a young age.

She added: “I think a lot about fairy tales and Disney movies and the way that love is something that’s always discussed with children.

“You’re told that you should dream about love, about this fulfilling love that you’re going to have.

“The prince and Snow White aren’t someone’s parents, they’re someone you wanna be.

“You’re sort of dreaming about a future where you will find happiness. Why shouldn’t everyone have that?

“I loved Disney movies when I was little, but I didn’t really feel like they were me, ever.”

Bonus: portrait of the artist as a rising high-schooler. An accolade of roses for Opal on her graduation from middle school.:

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Now off for a summer course at UC Santa Cruz, and then to high school at Northfield Mount Hermon School in western Massachusetts. A fresh adventure in a land far from California.

Opal has had the good fortune to grow up in a social milieu full of openly LGBT people, including a number of same-sex couples. Pride rainbows abound in our world.

The paucity of Opals. Opal is not at all a common name, so we’re all keen to find examples of the name. Most recently, I was delighted to hear that John Wells (the distinguished British phonetician and generally delightful person) and his civil partner Gabriel are several days in on a European river cruise on a ship called the Dream Opal (there’s a sister ship the Dream Amber). Sail on, Dream Opal!

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