Does Steven Universe Future Fix The Steven Universe Problems?
If one thing is clear about Steven Universe, it’s one hell of a controversial show. I’ve written about it before and there are a litany of videos about the Rebecca Sugar created show. After the Steven Universe Movie, they did a short follow-up series called Steven Universe Future. And that’s what we’re here to talk about today.
Steven Universe has always suffered from poor and inconsistent storytelling because storyboard artists also write the scripts. I have to say that Steven Universe Future does a little bit of a better job but many of the storylines are still a hit hackneyed and some things are just shoved in without any natural progression.
The animation issues are still part of the show. Characters are drawn off models, aren’t drawn consistently, and when they do change characters, the changes often don’t stick. They also break their own rules (like when Steven brings back Jasper using magic/chemicals/healing powers) and to top it all off, the plot about Steven not understanding himself or the world anymore is often derailed by other content that just isn’t necessary. However, let’s think about what we do have.
The show has two central questions: "Can evil be redeemed?” and “Can love to solve all your problems?” Steven Universe tries to show that these things are true but one thing that it fails to do is to hold anyone accountable for their actions, chiefly Steven himself.
However, in the new show, the world has changed. The Gems are living happily in both their world and on Earth. Gems are going to school and learning new ways of being outside of the old order that had dominated their lives. And while this all seems positive, Steven feels like he is out of place. As much as he worked to change the old order, he can’t seem to find his place in the new order. This is the issue on which Steven Universe Futures turns.
The complicated outcome of Steven Universe is rather indicative of what goes on for the young people of today. Those feelings of being out of place in a world that doesn’t seem to need or value you anymore are real. The feeling that all your old tricks don’t seem to work anymore and everything seems to backfire. There is also the intimidating factor of trying to exist in a world far larger than yourself, even if you’ve saved that very world. Steven Universe Future is no longer just about Steven, and that realization is a difficult pill for him to swallow.
Steven Universe future plays heavenly into a long-running idea in the series that Steven can fix anything and everything; or can he? In Steven Universe Future, this whole idea begins to break down.
The Steven Problem
When I first saw Steven Universe, the question I asked was fairly simple: Why is Steven so dumb? One of the problems is that he doesn’t go to school, at least not any traditional education, which leaves him bereft of proper social interaction with other children and teens. The other big issue is that he has no self-awareness of any kind and doesn’t seem to understand what he is doing or why he is doing it. He also doesn’t think through his actions or consider any consequences.
Throughout the show, consequences are lacking. If anything, Steven Universe Future is a refreshing take on the situation because he suffers social consequences for his lack of self-awareness. That is a nice development. It seems like Rebecca Sugar and the company realized that Steven was the problem all along and that those chickens would come home to roost at some point. However, rather than dealing with finding a new place in the new social reality, he ends up leaving Beach City instead.
Can every problem be solved through love? Can all problems be solved with some plucky attitude and logical reasoning? The interesting about Steven Universe Future is the answer is an unequivocal no. One of the biggest arguments against the story is that you cannot reform or redeem fascists without any consequences for their actions. It is quite jarring to see the Diamonds go from fascist dictators to loving motherly types.
In most types of storytelling, the great villains don’t get this kind of turnaround. I’m not as vehemently against the idea as others, but it is not the best storytelling. That would be like if Captain Ahab took in the great white whale as a pet and took long swims along the beach with it. If Steven could convince the Diamonds to reform so easily, how much of a threat were they?
The storyline of the Diamonds seems to be working out someone’s issues with their mother. It is hard to have an austere mother, and I think many children who have an austere mother wish that there was a loving, gooey, smothering mother below that harsh surface. I get that, but these are fascist dictators, not Demeter-esque mothers who needed therapy to open up.
Steven Universe Future nearly solves all the problems from the original show. We’ll likely never know what happens to Steven outside of Beach City as the show ended (this was an encore season), but the glaring storytelling issues tend to remain, with a few edits. The Diamonds still don’t make any sense, and Steven is still a rube. The only difference now is that Steven can drive, is supposed to be a teenager, and realizes that he has a problem; indeed that he is the problem.
This is where Steven being around other children, attending school, and learning to be a person would have been helpful. I fear that for Steven, it is far too late. I imagine a future for Steven where he moves to the big city, gets a job as a line cook at a popular eatery, and starts smoking a lot of weed, drinking heavily, and doing a lot of cocaine. He lives with many roommates in a large house, and his room is always a disaster, dominated by a single bed in a corner. Eventually, he will go to rehab, possibly join AA, and eventually drift back to Beach City in his late 20s, a changed man.
An unfinished coloring book (A Short Story Collection) by Cameron Cowan
an unfinished coloring book is a collection of short stories from Cameron Cowan. These short stories explore dramatic moments in the lives of everyday people. The collection also features the exclusive release of The RKO Killer: An I.G. Farben Mystery.
The collection includes:
What happens to the employees of a diner that are being torn down to make way for a new interstate? This is their last night in The Diner.
The Swedish Connection
Two artists, one relationship failing, and a really bad bottle of alcohol. Two men talk about their lives, their hurts, and their problems over one really bad bottle of vodka that they can't stop drinking.
The Kingdom of Nordstrom
The world has ended and the air had gone sour. One drifter finds a colony of people surviving in a derelict mall in Tacoma. Will he stay in this new kingdom or will he continue to wander the highways?
America Discount World
Set in the near future, America's cultural heritage is on sale to the highest bidder. Dale has made a life selling off America's cultural heritage and when a soon-to-be-divorced reporter comes to interview him about it; a new relationship just may form.
The Classy Drug Dealer
Andrej leads a quiet life running his dry cleaning and laundrette. However, it is only a front for his real business. When the consequences of his actions walk through the door one night, Andrej is forced to sacrifice everything, even his own life.
Set amid the California housing crisis, 4 tenants in an aging building try to figure out how to survive in a world that is trying to kill poor people and preventing them from surviving and living.
The cold war is on and America is building its nuclear arsenal. Set in the years at the end of Vietnam, one man gets a job making nuclear triggers at a Colorado plant. This is his story.
What is a teenager is a bland suburb supposed to do on the weekends? In this story, two boys find a great place to party and we learn about the secret and seedy underworld of the American suburb.
Topher has just a few hours to get to the lottery office in Olympia, WA to turn in a lottery ticket that will change his life. There's only one problem: he has no way to get there. Will he make it? Can he get the money in time?
The RKO Killer
In this collection exclusive, Isaac Farben is hired by KYW radio in Chicago during the roaring 1920s to find a criminal who is making headlines for an exclusive radio interview. Farben travels with his trusty assistants Mr. and Mrs. Rustin and Anna Fowler to southern Illinois to find this man and bring him back to the radio station.