In the Late 90’s a show called “Teletubbies” was brought to the homes of people in Britain and America. The show was watched and loved by millions of families with 1 to 4-year old children. Purple Teletubby “Tinky-Winky”, carrying a pink magic bag and wearing a tutu and a triangle on its head, created a response from the Christian community under the suspicion of being gay.
“As a Christian I feel that role-modeling the gay lifestyle is damaging to the moral lives of children,” said Southern Baptist pastor Jerry Falwell.
Now, a number of years later, you would think that with the progress made in the fight for gay rights and the number of countries allowing same-sex marriage, children’s shows featuring possibly homosexual characters wouldn’t cause problems in this day and age. You couldn’t be more wrong. Not only do these shows cause controversy, but they are being edited in other countries. One show, for example, is “Steven Universe.”
The show centers around a young boy named Steven Universe who lives with three magical alien-beings called the Crystal Gems who appear to be female. Since the Gems are aliens, they draw their power from the gem that is placed somewhere on their bodies. Therefore, their bodies are made of light and they choose to appear female. Steven is the first half-human, half-gem that has ever existed.
Steven spends his days with his friends, going on missions with the Gems, hanging out at his dad’s car wash and getting acquainted with his inner thoughts and dreams.
The creator of “Steven Universe,” Rebecca Sugar, shows support for the LGBT community and applies that to the theme of the show. One example of supporting the LGBT community is a lesbian relationship hidden throughout the entire first season of the show and then revealed at the season finale. The relationship had been kept secret from Steven because the characters wanted to make it a surprise for him on his next birthday.
The program also blurs the lines between gender roles as Steven is not afraid to wear a dress and makeup and perform onstage, as in the second season’s episode, “Sadie’s Song.” Many people find the show to be a jumpstart for kids towards LGBT acceptance.
“Steven Universe” recently aired an episode in the UK with edits to “make it less gay,” according to the website ggwnews.com.
The original episode features an intimate dance scene between two female lead characters. In the edits that the network made for its UK audience, a part of the dance where the two characters seem as though they are about to kiss was removed and cut away to another character. You can watch the video in a side-by-side comparison between the UK edit and the original here: Steven Universe UK Gay Censorship.
“It kind of annoys me in a way because there’s nothing that bad that they censor. They shouldn’t have to do that, there’s nothing wrong with two characters that look like females loving each other,” said freshman Hannah Newhouse.
This is not the first time the LGBT themes in Steven Universe has incited censorship in other parts of the world. The show has been censored in France, Germany, and Russia in an attempt to extinguish the homosexual relationships between characters. Examples include giving a character in a lesbian relationship masculine features to make her appear male, or lyrics being changed so a song about a relationship is instead about friendship.
“The thing is that the program’s not gonna make [kids] gay, but censoring the program is going to make them think [being] gay is wrong,” said sophomore Madison Holmer.
Fans of the show are outraged at the censorship because of the double standards being used. It’s as simple as this; there is no censorship of the heterosexual themes of the show. After the dance scene mentioned earlier, there is a kiss shared between a male and female character that was not cut out of the UK edit, as well as the male and female characters having their own dance that ends with another kiss.
There is also a perceived relationship between Steven and his best friend Connie that any fan has yet to hear of being censored. Is it assumed that children can only handle intimate relationships between male and female characters even after the progress people have made for gay rights?
“Twenty countries have approved the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide: Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg, Finland and Ireland,” according to the website freedomtomarry.
The list continues with Mexico, Slovenia, and the United States.
Even though Britain is one of the many countries allowing same-sex marriages, they still feel the need to censor such relationships in programs for children.
“I think that’s pretty bad because, not saying all kids, but some kids figure out their sexuality before high school like I did, and I think it’s a good thing that they’re [the creators of the show] making them lesbians,” said junior Jaylan Shields.
The viewers of “Steven Universe” are made up of primarily elementary school kids, but people of all ages watch it. People who struggle with body image and sexuality are thrilled that they are being represented by these characters. By simply photoshopping over and taking out parts of the show, the people who are represented are being snuffed out. It’s not fair to Rebecca Sugar and it’s not fair to the viewers, no matter what country they live in.