Rebecca Sugar, You’re My Hero

To put it simply, I do not believe there is a better show in existence for young children in the current day and age as Steven Universe.

Steven Universe, Cartoon Network

Steven Universe, Cartoon Network

Simply by turning it on, and watching any of the numerous episodes, one can learn so much about how the world should work. Let’s start with the main cast. The focal point of the series is the adventures of Steven Quartz Universe and his three mentors/senior teammates, Garnet, Amethyst, and Pearl. From the first moment, these three female leads are among some of the best.

All of their voices stand out, from the heavily accented Garnet, voiced by singer/songwriter/producer Estelle Fanta Swaray who traces her roots back to Grenada, to the Raspy and energetic voice of Amethyst, Michaela Dietz, a Korean-American singer and voice actress by trade, to the haughty and motherly voice of Pearl from Deedee Lynn Magno Hall, a Filipina-American voice actress who is best known as Princess Jasmine in the Aladdin Broadway production.

No two characters sound alike. Although relatives tend to have similar voices, all show an insane degree of personality. From the Pizza family, who are immigrants from the country of Ghana, the father, Kofi Pizza, and the grandmother Nanefua Pizza, to his daughters, Jenny and Kiki Pizza. The latter two were clearly raised in America. The entire show brings a realistic representation of life in America. If you lived in another country for years, you will have an accent. And then, in this show, that accent is never grounds for a joke. It’s merely a factor of these character’s lives and personality. Ethnicity is never a point of contention, neither is gender. Characters can be weak, strong, light-hearted, serious, but it’s all based around who they are, not what they are.

I wish I had grown up with this show. I really, truly do. Allow me to spoil an episode, known as “Alone Together”. Though Steven Universe has had many groundbreaking episodes, this, was the first. It introduced a character known as Stevonnie. A fusion of Steven, the main character, and Connie, his book-smart, sword wielding best friend. (Her full name, for the record, is Connie Maheswaran, she is of Indian descent) Stevonnie is created in a flash of pink light, and where two children stood, now stands a beautiful, no, a stunning figure. Tall, not lean, but just soft enough in the right places. Instantly, the first thing they do is stand up, and run around, laughing. Yes, I said they. Stevonnie is the first purely non binary character in the series. Not male or female. Non binary. They take themselves to Garnet, who tells them that, “Stevonnie, listen to me. You are not two people, and you are not one person. You, are an experience! Make sure you’re a good experience. Now, go have fun!” After another run on the beach, followed by a cliff dive into the ocean, they find themselves hungry, and head into a local donut shop for a snack.

Lars and Stevonnie, The Big Donut Shop

Lars and Stevonnie, The Big Donut Shop

Two recurring characters stand behind the counter. The tall, lanky, sometimes unthoughtful Lars, and the short, stocky, strong, sometimes hard headed and manipulative Sadie. At the sight of the attractive Stevonnie, both characters find themselves flustered. Stuttering. Unable to form cohesive thoughts, and end up giving away the food for free, to which Stevonnie actively flirts back over their shoulder, “But, just so you know, that isn’t a very sound business practice.”

Stevonnie sees the power their attractiveness wields, and decides to wield it in kind. But, like most swords, there is a double edge, which appears later, in the form of Kevin. Stevonnie, still reveling in their newfound power, decided to head to a local rave. As music plays and lights flash, they begin to dance--their beauty and acrobatics attracting the eyes of the entire venue. Does this flatter them even more? No, it, in fact, induces an extremely harsh anxiety attack, prompting them to run into the corner, lamenting the fact that if they were to split back into Steven and Connie, they would at least have each other. Instead, they’re alone, together. And that’s when Kevin arrives.

Kevin and Stevonnie

Kevin and Stevonnie

Now, most of us have met a Kevin at least once in our lives. Acts like they are a Greek statue given life. You’re lucky to know them. He’s the best thing that will ever happen to you. He approached, breaking through their personal space. Flirting, patronizing, calling them “baby” and “girl” clearly interested in only their body, and how having his pushed up against theirs will make him look. Stevonnie, ready for their night to be over, pulls Kevin onto the dance floor, seemingly broken down by his incessant bothering and not taking no for an answer, and proceeds to dance so hard, they fall apart. Literally. They split, reforming into the now laughing and weeping at the same time Connie and Steven. To his credit, he leaves with a simple, “That’s two kids! I’m out!” as Connie and Steven enjoy their dance--together.

One simple episode brings up so much. Identifying as non binary, using sexuality as a weapon and enjoying it, being pressured by someone into doing things you don’t want, especially in a sexual way, and fighting against it in order to be yourself. Even then, more episodes with more lessons spring to mind. “The Storm in the Room” has to do with not defining yourself by the actions and reputation of your parents. “Mindful Education” and the song “Here Comes a Thought” are about dealing with anxieties and not letting them consume you. “Pool Hopping” is about recognizing that you can never be totally in control, and at times just have to take things as they come.

Rebecca Sugar, you really are my hero. You’re a bisexual, non binary woman who creates incredible story lines, beautiful art, and unbelievable music every day. I want to be more like you. This article is my love letter to your series, Becky. I am thankful that you created it, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Comment

Sophia Sunday

My opinion is my opinion. I would never say it's the right one. I just think it's what makes the best world available. Mid-20s, Trans, in the woods. Possibility of going feral rises every single day. If you're reading this, please listen to Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. It takes a listen or two to get used to it, but dear god, it's such a good album. Also, fuck capitalism, cops, and our current state of Democracy. Feast on the bones of the rich. Wake me up when Stone Ocean is animated.

Game of Thrones Fans Are Weirded Out By Arya's Scene With Gendry

Game of Thrones Fans Are Weirded Out By Arya's Scene With Gendry

Arya is a fan favorite on Game of Thrones. We’re emotionally invested in her story. And during season one of GoT, we even ‘shipped her with Gendry, the late King Robert Baratheon’s eldest bastard son. Their back and forth banter was just so adorable.

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After Only One Episode of Season 8 of Game of Thrones the Memes Are Lit

While some people thought the first episode of Game of Thrones season 8 was a bit slow, others thought the episode was amazing.

It’s true that the first episode of each new season of Game of Thrones is usually extremely dry and a bit difficult to get through. But Season 8 started off as basically one big meme factory. And we’re here for it.

Memes have truly become a necessary part of pop culture and can even be like a companion guide or accessory to a movie or TV show. That’s why we love these GoT memes. And most of the memes that sprouted from this episode are either about that infamous Bran/Jamie near reunion or Daenarys and Jon Snow. Either way, the memes and commentary are EVERYTHING. So, here’s are some of our favorites. With no context. We hope you enjoy these as much as we have.

How Close We Are to Becoming a Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale?

“Nothing changes instantaneously: in a gradually heating bathtub you’d be boiled to death before you knew it.”

The Handmaid's Tale is a Hulu original thriller series based on Margaret Atwood’s 1985 dystopian novel of the same name. It explores what can happen when extreme, fundamentalist Christians take over the United States. Fiction though it may be, is it even remotely possible to happen for real? The short answer: Yes. It's very possible.

The premise of the show is, in the very near future, an extremist Christian group within the United States attacks the Northeast coast and overthrows the government, replacing the United States government in New England with a totalitarian, theonomy--governance based on the strict adherence of the divine law of the Old Testament.

The democracy that was the United States was replaced by the militaristic, totalitarian, theonomy of The Republic of Gilead. Gay and lesbian men and women were murdered, with the exception of women who were able to conceive. Fertile women were forced to become surrogates or “handmaids” - baby-making factories - for those in power who could not reproduce. These women were forced to bear children they did not want - forced to have sex in order to procreate. Raped.

Gilead is a nation where women’s bodies are governed—every inch of their bodies policed. Women wear uniforms, each class having a designated uniform according to their relationship to men: the aunts, wife, handmaid, martha, and unwomen.

How did the the United States become the Republic of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale? The never-ending belief in male dominance, women’s complicity in those beliefs, and people not wanting to be bothered with anything that did not immediately affect their lives—that’s how. Offred, the protagonist was guilty of the latter, just as many are guilty of that today.

While policing women’s bodies is not a new concept (Napoleon Bonaparte famously once said, “Women were nothing but machines for producing children”) it is not acceptable, especially in 2019. Why, then, do politicians continue to police women’s bodies according to their religious interpretation or morality when the U.S. Constitution expressly calls for a separation of church and state? They do it for the same reasons boys in gaming spaces like to tell femme gamers to go back in the kitchen or make them a sandwich. There’s a perceived superiority of men over women and an unwillingness to believe women should be the gatekeepers of our own bodies and our own happiness.

Legislators are creating laws that make getting a safe abortion legal based on legislators’ cherry-picked religious beliefs but no laws regulating the male body. Legislators pass laws that would make allow employers to not allow birth control to be covered by insurers, but Viagra and other male libido enhancement medications remain untouched. The governors of both Kentucky and Mississippi recently signed six-week abortion bans and Georigia’s new governor is awaiting Georgia’s 6-week abortion ban to hit his desk so that he can sign it.

Politicians brush off with sexual assault like it’s okay, openly admitting to sexual assault—boys and men threaten women and girls with rape and assault for disagreeing with their opinion or daring to voice their opinion. And when we speak out on it, try to correct their behavior or say “I don’t like this” we’re called sensitive, snowflakes, PC! When we simply say “No, I’m not interested,” we’re harassed. How far is too far?

Anjali Sareen Nowakowski perfectly summed up how similar our reality is to that of the Republic of Gilead. “All it took to build Gilead, though, was the silence of those that would resist and the vast expansion of government power.” While there are similarities between US and Gilead, can we all work together so that “Under his eye” and “Blessed be the fruit” are not the only things we’re allowed to say to each other?

Season 3 of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale premiere’s June 5, 2019.

Why Piracy is Making a Comeback

Why Piracy is Making a Comeback

People flocked to streaming services because of the exorbitant pricing of bundled cable and satellite television services. These bundles forced consumers to pay upwards of one-hundred dollars for 5-10 channels that they actually watch because services bundled those handful of channels to only be purchased with the addition of 200+ other channels. Not only that, but Netflix offered consumers convenience. Soon, other streaming services followed suit and illegal downloads fell. So what happened?

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Classic Witch Movies to Binge While Giving Out Candy on Halloween

Classic Witch Movies to Binge While Giving Out Candy on Halloween

Not everyone dresses up for Halloween. Some of us enjoy staying home and handing out candy and being entertained by the awesome costumes of trick-or-treaters who beg for candy.

Staying home and handing out candy doesn’t have to be dull. After all, Halloween is supposed to be a magical night, as pagans believe it’s the night that the veil is thinnest and we’re able to more easily communicate with and feel the presence of our lost loved ones. It’s basically “The Season of the Witch.” Here are some amazing witchy classics to binge-watch while handing out candy this Halloween. Or just to binge watch period, because they’re just that freakin’ good!

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7 Classic Dark Teen Movies to Binge Watch

7 Classic Dark Teen Movies to Binge Watch

Dragon Con is happening this Labor Day weekend and, due to a family emergency, I won't be able to make it. This is the second Con I've had to miss this year and I'm so heartbroken!

So, instead of getting to see and possibly interview some amazing actors and writers (Anjali Bhimani aka Overwatch's Symmetra, the always amazing John Barrowman, the cast of Black Lightning, Peter Capaldi aka The Doctor and his companion Bil aka Pearl Mackie and Karen Gillan), I'll be home, letting my teen angst resurface by watching some of my favorite teen films.

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Official Teaser Trailer for "BumbleBee" is Here

And it looks so good!

Let's be honest, the Transformers movies, after the first one, were extremely meh. Every time news of a new Transformers film came out, we all prayed to the film gods "Please don't suck. Please don't suck" only to be left with a "Meh. It could have been worse" feeling. Part of that feeling, I believe, was because of the increasingly limited amount of screen time given to BumbeBee. Sure, I could be biased (I am).

When the first Transformers film came out in 2007, I had been home from Iraq for a year, in school and feeling as if I just couldn't relate to anyone around me. Then, opening night of Transformers, the theater was full of adults, like me, who were excited to see our childhood alien robot heroes on the big screen. I bonded with the big muscle-bound guy sitting next to me as we exchanged looks of excitement during action packed scenes. And then, that one scene that made even the hardest of hardcore human beings feel all the feels--when we thought BumbleBee was going to die. The Transformers films that came afterward left much to be desired. 

bumblebee gif.gif

BumbleBee looks to be different in a few ways. This is an origins' film. It takes place in 1987 while BumbleBee is on the run. The protagonist is a 17 year old young woman, Charlie, played by Hailie Steinfeld. She's trying to figure out her place in the world and comes across BumbleBee in a junkyard. Also, this film is the first in the series not to be directed by Michael Bay, although, Bay is a producer on the film. Instead, BumbleBee is being directed by acclaimed animator and director of Kuba and the Two Strings (and former rapper) Travis Knight. 

The trailer is only a teaser, but it looks good enough. And BumbleBee is arguably the most beloved Autobot, even if he only speaks through his radio. Well, that's part of his appeal. But do you think he deserves a standalone film? Tell us what you think in the comments.

Jessica Chastain Pitches All-Female Spy Film, 355

Saving the world is absolutely possible, as are all things when your favs come together. And actress Jessica Chastain confirms that to be true in her new proposed movie project 355. Chastain will be pitching the film at Cannes Film Festival this week. Variety reported that the film will lead at the helm by an all-star female cast consisting of Lupita Nyong’o, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing, and Marion Cotillard. Based on an original idea by Chastain, the storyline of the spy thriller will follow five international spies who put aside their differences to unite against a global organization for the greater good of saving the world. The five coin their merger 355 after the first female spy from the American Revolutionary War.

The film will be produced by Chastain’s studio Freckle Films and directed by her X-Men: Dark Phoenix colleague, Simon Kinsberg (the film will mark his directorial debut) in which Jessica also stars. You may recognize Kinsberg from his work as a writer on movies such as Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Sherlock Holmes. The script will be written by Theresa Rebeck, a playwright whose television works include Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Left to right: Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and Fan Bingbing, at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. Source: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock via Indiewire

Left to right: Penélope Cruz, Marion Cotillard, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o, and Fan Bingbing, at the 71st annual Cannes Film Festival. Source: David Fisher/REX/Shutterstock via Indiewire

In a conversation with Variety, Chastain states, “I see creating something like 355 as an opportunity and privilege to assemble a diverse group of women, all of whom have greatly influenced the film industry through their work, to join together equally and explore the badass world of international espionage and thrillers. I have always loved films in this genre: Three Days of the Condor, the Jason Bourne franchise to the Bond films, and having the opportunity to create this world with these stellar actresses and Simon Kinberg is truly a dream.”

This is not the first time that Chastain has spoken on the power of diversity and her desire for more rounded female leads. In an interview with Radio Times in 2017, she spoke out against the hypersexualization of female action stars. “If you look at films like Elektra and Aeonflux, the problem that studios have is that they try to make kickass women very sexualised. They have to be in some catsuit.”

Chastain went on to tell Radio Times that “Studios have misjudged it in the past, and thought audiences weren’t interested in seeing a woman in an action role who’s a capable, intelligent woman and isn’t only leaning on her sex.”

It’s a fair assumption to make that we’ll get a full ensemble of capable intelligent women in 355 so 007 can step aside, they’ll take it from here.