The Rebecca Sugar-created cartoon show Steven Universe has earned praise for its sophisticated yet casual inclusion of a variety of complex characters under the LGBTQA umbrella, challenging gender norms, touching on gender fluidity and transgender identity, building two major arcs on lesbian relationships, and even displaying same-sex kissing as a totally natural extension of these romances.
But over in the U.K., fans are understandably miffed as their Cartoon Network cut a tender moment in a pivotal song number, clearly censoring a same-sex embrace.
Here’s the side by side comparison of the love song “What Can I Do For You” as it played in the U.S. and the U.K.
Did you catch the difference? In the U.K. version, the below section was cut, replaced with an extended reaction shot of Greg Universe (wannabe rock god/dad of the show’s protagonist) and a close-up of his guitar.
For those who haven’t yet embraced the unique wonder of Steven Universe, allow me to succintly break down the context of this moment. It’s is a flashback that reveals a tricky love triangle between two extraterrestrial women who have been partners in love and war for centuries, and the human man who’s coming between them. Even if you don’t watch the show, you might have been able to pick up the general conflict thanks to its top-notch animators. But pulling that crucial shot not only hurts its storytelling it also hurts the LGBTQA audience who have come to love the show. This censoring sends the message that Rose and Pearl’s intimacy is something indecent.
Fans furious over this homophobic cut created a petition that got CN UK’s attention, spurring this disappointing response from the network:
“Cartoon Network (in Europe) often shows amended versions of programs from US originals. The US broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating -in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time. We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.”
Basically, little kids can’t handle same-sex kissing. That’s their argument.
If you think this is a bunch of bunk, protesters suggest you tweet @CNUKTweets and tell them so.
Kristy Puchko isn’t so much an angry feminist, as much as an exhausted one.