The Steven Universe Movie Has Issues

I never discussed my thoughts on the Steven
Universe season 5 finale on this channel because I was in the middle of a depressive hiatus,
but the short of it is that I liked a lot of the small individual moments, but then
when it came to the overarching narrative and the whole cohesive experience… oh no, oh no, I was underwhelmed and let down. For example, I love this scene where Steven
loves himself. That was fantastic, and not just because James
Baxter animated it. But then of course we have the genocidal dictators
entrenched in their viewpoints for thousands of years redeemed and having their minds changed
in a couple episodes and, oh, I mean I knew it was coming, but it still sucked. Hey, you remember when Zuko helped the Avatar
by freeing an abused animal, and that sent his body into shock, and he was having fever
dreams for days, and yet that was only a tiny sliver of his entire redemption journey? Why didn’t Aang just have a clapback for
Zuko so Zuko could become embarrassed and switch on the turn of a dime? But I’m losing the plot here, I’m losing
the plot here, this video isn’t about the season 5 finale, why am I even bringing that
up? Well, besides the fact that the movie continues from there, I had similar feelings toward the movie. A lot of the moments removed from context were fun and enjoyable, but the holistic experience lacked. And that’s before we even acknowledge that
this movie really didn’t need to exist. I’m not even talking about the musical summaries
of the character histories, I’m talking about how the entire movie’s premise is
self-admittedly retreading all the core plot points that have already happened throughout
the series. [This is the story of my life!] Is Spinel gonna contribute to the larger narrative
of the story? Is she going to be an influencing factor going
forward? She’s not. Like, I’d love to be wrong, but c’mon. What are some of my other takes on Spinel? I actually really don’t like her character
design when she’s stationary, but any time she’s in motion it’s beautiful. I love how she looks when she’s moving around. She’s clearly inspired by old-timey cartoons in the same way Peacock from Skullgirls and Cuphead was. It was a visual treat. Money was put into the animation. The fight scenes look really nice. Can’t complain about the visuals at all. When it comes to her character, you want to
empathize with her, her story is very sad, but ultimately, abandoned toy who just wants
to take it out on strangers – that’s not compelling. [You can’t just make everything better by
singing some stupid song!] Um, that’s still what happens. Her emotions were portrayed incredibly well. [What am I doing? Why do I wanna hurt you so bad?] The performance and the presentation is compelling,
but the actual character arc itself when you take a step back from it – it’s pretty
weaksauce honestly. I really want to like the fact that Spinel
relapsed. Failure to communicate effectively causing problems has been a recurring theme throughout Steven Universe. But this rendition of Steven just acting really
dumb and failing to talk to her properly was eye-rolling – I thought it was farcical. Steven, Spinel is clearly frightened of the
scythe and it’s giving her bad thoughts, flip the switch, put it away. Or dramatically break it there and then as
a sign of good faith, but no, Steven holds on to the active weapon that is causing Spinel
to basically relive her trauma for over a minute and a half. Here’s another thought on Spinel: considering
what her backstory was, she absolutely had to be redeemed/forgiven. Why? Well, because the season 5 finale happened. Alright, imagine this, right, we have a galactic
empire with genocidal dictators eliminating life across the galaxy for thousands of years
who get redeemed in just a couple episodes. Can you imagine if directly after those events,
the Crystal Gems have to put down somebody who was a victim of abuse neglect to the point
that it broke her mind? Those with absolute power who have committed
countless atrocities have a path toward redemption, but those at the absolute bottom of society
who are seen as things more than they’re seen as people, those don’t? That would just be one big pile of woof. If you thought there was a chance Spinel wouldn’t
be forgiven, I feel like you haven’t paid attention to the themes Steven Universe has
derailed itself with honestly. Steven Universe has written itself into a
corner where everybody has to be forgiven. That is simply the framework that the end
of season 5 has laid out. Continuing these thoughts on Spinel though,
what an intriguing choice for a villain; yet another thing to make Pink Diamond look like
a monster. I mean let’s consider this, Homeworld has
caused havoc across the galaxy when it comes to exterminating biological life. If there’s other intelligent life out there,
I’m sure it hates Homeworld. I’m sure some of the gems that hated living
under Homeworld’s tyranny are still resentful of the Diamond Authority, there’s probably
gems that loved the Diamond Authority and are resentful of the new changes that are
happening because of Steven. If we need a big bad angry villain, there
are so many potential choices. We could have somebody come to Steven asking
him to turn on the Diamonds or else. We could have somebody come to Steven trying
to get revenge for what he’s done to the Diamonds. Instead, we get a gem built to be a toy that’s
been deceitfully abandoned to a horrific extent. Did Pink Diamond just flat-out forget about
her, or did she think the risk of trying to go get her was way too great and not worth
it once the rebellion was over? We don’t really know, Pink Diamond is dead,
Rose is dead; it is so easy to now channel fan anger and fan ire at Pink Diamond who
is no longer there to do better or to improve as a character. I’m gonna put this take out there: Pink
Diamond now basically exists as a scapegoat for fans to channel their anger toward, while
the other Diamonds have been swept under the rug, because look at them – aren’t they
adorable? They’re like aunties, or like grannies,
they’re graunties. Look at how much they adore Steven. We’re okay with them now. Pink Diamond though – what a monster! It’s not like the other Diamonds raised
her into this hierarchical culture of imperialism where you see things as below you and dispensable. It’s not like they had any part in her upbringing
– oh wait, oh wait, they totally did. And we’re totally not acknowledging any
of that. Because Pink Diamond sucks, man. She left Spinel all alone! I am being overly facetious and reductive
on purpose here, for comedic effect mostly, but the point nonetheless stands that it’s
kind of a disturbing trend how the person who started the entire rebellion against the
galactic tyranny that exterminates life to further propagate their own – she’s been
railroaded into this target of ire while the other Diamonds are getting a pass. Steven Universe seems really afraid to tackle
the entire subject of systematic injustices. That’s why we just swept through it all
in the course of 2 years, and are just expected to assume that yeah the Diamonds are doing
they’re best – they’re doing fine. [Ugh. Equal life forms.] Check it out, this person who has the power
to erase life across the galaxy, she’s just like your racist uncle at Thanksgiving who’s
nonetheless trying their best because they want you in their life. Wow, isn’t that comforting. I may as well segue off the topic of the Diamonds
into my next thought: Steven seems to have kind switched roles with White Diamond,
although it’s not 1:1. But before, Blue and Yellow were in White’s
shadow, they wanted to do right by her, they wanted White to be pleased with them, they
behaved in a manner that they thought White would most prefer. Now all three Diamonds are trying to live
in Steven’s shadow and just want to do whatever it is that will please him, because they adore him ever so much, he is the center of their universe. Who needs morals when you can have the appreciation
of your beloved? And Steven is just like, “Yo I need some
space, can you guys leave me alone?” Which is exactly what White Diamond used to
do; she used to just barely interact with the others and shut herself away from them. And Steven’s now trying to do the same thing,
I thought that was, uh, kind of troubling honestly, but I don’t think it’s gonna
be acknowledged by the series. I hope I’m wrong. We’ll see, we’ll have to see. As far as nitpicks and contrivances in the
movie go, there are so many and I don’t want to spend all day at it. [Do I need to get the Diamonds?] [You’re the one with healing powers.
If anyone can fix this, it’s you.] That one – that one made me do a double-take,
like excuse me? Excuse me? Excuse me? There’s countless nitpicks to be made about
the drill plot device. Feel free to go wild on my behalf in the comments,
I’m sure there will be counter-nitpicks, and counter-counter-nitpicks, and counter-counter-counter-nitpicks,
and so on and so forth, but the biggest one that I will cover is that the goddamn thing
explodes at the end, all the ooze is delivered to the Earth, that’s supposed to kill the
whole planet, and it doesn’t matter. It didn’t matter – there weren’t any
stakes. Rewatching this movie is really awkward, because
you retroactively know there were never any stakes, it didn’t matter. It’s nothing some handiwork and kisses from
Steven can’t fix apparently. Different topic altogether, Garnet’s song after she fuses but still lacks memories was really weird. [~Isn’t it love?~] Uh, no, it isn’t love. Refer to Garnet: [Love takes time, and love takes work.] I wanted to relish in these cool visuals,
but I was too distracted by how Ruby and Sapphire have only been together for like an hour,
and yet we’re calling it love apparently, when their memories still aren’t back? The lyrics botched the experience. Before I get back to Spinel and how the movie
concludes, I pretty much have to talk about Steg, don’t I? My very first initial gut reaction was like,
wow, is this my new favorite fusion? He’s flippin’ awesome! And then my closely followed secondary gut
reaction was, wait a second, why is the fusion that’s a representation of the love between
father and son eye-fucking the audience? He’s a suave rocker with an Adonis body
because Greg and Steven view each other like total rockstars – they both think of each
other as the absolute coolest. But the sexualization (and you can’t say
there wasn’t some sexualization here) was really fucking weird. I mean he’s literally portrayed to titillate
Pearl back to recovering her memories, which, oh boy, that’s a whole other can of worms. You know a bunch of people now wanna be topped
by a son-father combo and that’s just AAAAAAAAA. Fusion is a conversation, but is this the
conversation we’re supposed to be having about Steg? That a child and his father together are a
sexual tyrannosaur? If the bond between father and son pelvic
thrusting their way into your heart didn’t make you feel a little uncomfortable, well,
okay, but you gotta admit there’s at least some potential room for yikes in the portrayal
of this fusion. I feel like Steg is a microcosm on my thoughts
on the whole Steven Universe movie; it’s shiny and sweet on the outside, but then when
you put even a little bit of thought into it, like a lot of potential issues start to arise and your experience starts to feel kind of… ugh. The superficial level is enjoyable and highly
captivating, but when you actually examine the narrative and (to a lesser degree) the
themes at play, oh boy, we got some issues. So let me wrap up with the last few issues
I had. Spinel’s arc closing on her wanting to find
somebody else, somebody better, to give her value is pretty fucked up. Like, that was Pearl’s entire character
arc throughout Steven Universe; Pearl trying to find a way to live for herself rather than
to live for somebody else. [Don’t forget about yourself, Pearl.] [I do it for me!] And here, Steven is like cheering Spinel on
to find a substitute instead of trying to live life for her own sake. [You just need to find someone.] Like what the fuck was that about? [~I’ll love again. I’ve already found someone.~] Is everybody intent on treating her like an
intelligent toy and not an actual person? Is that what we’re doing here? Apparently I didn’t get the memo. You cannot tell me they botched the takeaway
message cause they didn’t have enough time to properly address it and all the nuance
involved when the entire movie was basically just retreading ground we’ve already seen and summarizing events we’re already familiar with. [Spinel: And you remind me so much of her.] Isn’t that nice, she’s staying with people
who remind her of the person who did so much mental damage and broke her psyche so bad
that she was gonna destroy all life on a planet just because she was upset. The whole Diamond arrangement of her staying
with them does not bode well at all. All three of the Diamonds are still essentially
out-of-touch rich fucklords. [I’m sorry but what is that smell?] Wow, would I be so worried of Spinel breaking
her psyche even further by staying with them and risking getting retraumatized. Yellow Diamond legitimately belly-laughed
at Spinel’s trauma. [Only 6,000 years. It’s true – that’s nothing!] Why is she going to stay with them? Oh my god! I mean, we know why she’s going to stay
with them, it’s cause Steven doesn’t want them around and this is the easiest way to
get rid of them. As an audience, we’re being told in this
metatextual manner that like, hey everything’s gonna be fine, don’t worry about it, it’s
a happy ending. But everything we’ve seen should imply otherwise. It’s just so hand-wavingly callous and dismissive. There was zero finesse to the writing for
the ending portion. The Steven Universe movie was so concerned
with feeling good and looking good and sounding good, that it forgot to ask whether its underlying
narrative and all the implications involved were actually good. [Now I’m not good at all!] I mean, I wouldn’t go that far. A lot of it was still fun, there were still
enjoyable moments, there’s a lot of clips you can make out of it that are really nice
(especially if you remove some of them from the larger context), but yeah, I didn’t
like the Steven Universe movie.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *