Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Entire Universe

Thousands of years ago, an invading alien race threatened the oblivious planet Earth. This technologically-advanced race plans to use the Earth's resources to the point of destruction in order to propagate their species. They send a scouting party which is made up of the alien race's greatest warriors. However, before their plan can be completed, the leader of this team happens upon a traveling musician on the beach who opens her eyes to the value of human life, and life in general. After a legendary battle, the leader of the alien away team and two of her followers claim victory for Earth and all who inhabit it, but it comes at a huge cost. They are banished from their homeworld, never to return.

Sounds a bit epic to be a child's comedy show, but some of the other over-arching themes of Steven Universe are even more complex than the fantastic overture of the main story itself, and a strong Pro-Life theme is inextricably woven throughout, manifesting in three separate stories of a resoundingly life-affirming nature. 

First, there is the case of the titular character himself. Steven is a hybrid life form, derived from the struggling musician Greg Universe, his father, and Rose Quartz, the leader of the rebel Crystal Gems. By their nature, the alien race of crystal gems don't necessarily reproduce in the traditional sense. They can fuse to form a new gem with another gem (or in some cases, another living entity), but they cannot reproduce per se. Therefore, after Greg Universe and Rose Quartz were married and she became pregnant with Steven, she knew that his new life would mean hers coming to an end. Rather than fight this inevitability, she chose to lovingly embrace Steven's nascent life, leaving video messages for someone of whom she would technically be a part, but that she came to view as her son. This bond shared between Rose and Steven is touched on numerous times in the show, and broaches the subject of a mother's life lost in childbirth in the most tender and bittersweet of ways. It illustrates so vividly the beauty of a mother's sacrifice to give her most precious gift to the world, while showing how a departed parent lives on in the exuberant new life of their offspring. Steven is often told by those who were close to his mother how much he looks, sounds, and acts like Rose. The love and strength that Rose shared with those around her will ever persist ever after in the heart of Steven. The sadness at the loss of Rose Quartz will never be required to be endured completely, because she will never really be gone.

Another important point touched on in the show is the respect and reverence a relationship which creates new life deserves. One of the main characters is a gem named Garnet. She is a fusion gem. Two gems share a relationship so strong, they have ceased to be individuals and created an entirely new being, larger than themselves. She is a perfect allegory for a strong, deep, meaningful relationship between two people who then come together to produce new life. The two initial gems who come together to make her even cease to be themselves, which if you're doing things correctly, should be the case when two adults are mature enough to become intimate with one another, even before any children might be produced. A healthy relationship changes a person, due to the give-and-take nature inherent in a properly functioning love. If one truly cares about their partner, the love is selfless, and recognizes that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. These changes serve a greater purpose than just perpetuating the health of the relationship itself. They prepare an adult to accommodate the new life of their child, which is the freshly created living symbol of everything their beautiful relationship has come to be. 

Of course, not every child is brought into the world under such optimal circumstances, and the final Pro-Life paragon featured in Steven Universe is a perfect example of such a scenario. Amethyst was not an original member of the scouting team sent to begin overtaking the Earth. Amethyst was actually created on Earth, as the realization of the dastardly plan that the Homeworld Gems had envisioned for the Earth. They had planned on utilizing all of the mineral resources of the Earth to create new gems, causing the Earth's eventual destruction. Amethyst was one of the first of these, brought to fruition on the planet in a place called "The Kindergarten". She eventually decided to break away from the evil plans of the Homeworld Gems, and joined Rose Quartz, Garnet, and Pearl, but the circumstances under which she came to exist were beyond a doubt tragic and unfair not only to those living upon the Earth, but eventually to Amethyst herself. Given that the rest of the gems fought so fiercely to protect the Earth, it hurts Amethyst deeply to know that her entire existence is owed to the destruction of a small portion of it. She eventually lashes out at Pearl, one of the Crystal Gems most devoted to Rose Quartz and therefore the protection of Earth. Amethyst calls herself a mistake, and takes the hurt she feels about her existence out on Pearl through combat. Eventually, Steven intercedes and convinces Pearl to speak with Amethyst. Pearl explains that Amethyst was something beautiful and great that came out of something terrible. The dialogue from the episode "On The Run" is so poignant and touching, it could almost be reproduced verbatim as applying to cinema about a situation as complex as a child being conceived as a consequence of rape. It's beyond a doubt one of the most powerful and moving moments of the series.

Pro-Life theater and cinema is where you find it, and don't be fooled-sometimes the most intricate and stirring Pro-Life messages can be found in something as simple as a child's cartoon.

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