I liked the new episode a lot. At the heart of it was good social commentary. Often when talking about a cause or a movement, there are always attempts to undermine those who are actually in it. Fighting for X? Are you even X enough?
People asking for the same rights granted to everyone else are often discredited, because people think it’s far easier to err on the side of giving no one the same respect because of a few possible “fakes.”
And that’s not great. Because that does make it all about the majority and what they’re comfortable with, rather than the people whose lives could change drastically with every decision made.
I liked how the episode started with Ronaldo telling the gems he was wrong about them, and saying he wanted to champion their cause. A lot of the time, people earnestly believe they’re doing the right thing.
Hurting others isn’t the end goal for the reasonable person; it’s just, they don’t see their actions in perspective, like when Ronaldo kept criticising Steven.
These days, a lot of bias is deep down. It’s harder to root out because no one believes they could be “guilty” of such an abhorrent thing, like discrimination, like prejudice.
But in refusing to acknowledge that some of our actions might be tinged by our contexts, we benefit none.
I applaud the subtlety in the episode. It’s a good springboard to talk to anyone about these issues. But it shouldn’t end there. I mean, the episode is a start, but it isn’t the answer to systematic marginalisation. That requires a lot more effort, just like how picking a gem name, without the love and acceptance, harms and hampers the cause more.
And it was helpful to present Steven as not dismissing Ronaldo. Each time Ronaldo misrepresented the Crystal Gems, such as with the first Ronaphlet and again as Bloodstone, Steven talked to him. And it wasn’t always without opposition, but Steven didn’t just fence of Ronaldo and refuse to educate him.
I feel that’s what made the difference. It’s not an easy thing, to face someone who’s causing hurt and refuses to believe it. It’s not a responsibility forced on everyone, but in choosing to engage and educate, a change happened for the better. I hope we keep getting this sort of slice-of-life episodes.
While the fandom is ranting, crying, and going crazy right now, I’ll like to point out Ronaldo’s character development throughout the series so far in Steven Universe. While a lot would argue he has no development, and he’s irredeemable, I recommend watching his episodes again more carefully. To understand Ronaldo’s development, you have to understand his character arc in general. He’s an blogger in search for the Truth. Steven, even pointed it out, he’s one of the few humans that actually takes interest in the weird stuff that goes on in Beach City. You would think dried up oceans, a giant hand in the sky, and global earthquakes would make lasting impressions on these residents, but in shown in Rising Tides/Crashing Skies, they could care less. Only Ronaldo seems to be interested.
The origin of Ronaldo (including Lars’s) character arc is in Horror Club. While most fans only remember Ronaldo throwing Lars in the giant mouth, the flashback the lighthouse gem shows us where it all began. Their childhood fight drew the lines where their character arc stories will begin in the SU timeline. Lars concerned with his reputation and hurt by his former friend not seemingly caring about his feelings, went the Jerk route, trying to fit in the cool kids, hiding his true self, and being flaky and a jerk to those who try to get too close to the real him (Sadie and Steven). Ronaldo seeing this as the ultimate betrayal went the other jerk route (jerknaldo route lol); isolating himself from others, went full conspiracy mode, never taking advice or another person’s point of view, and became arrogant and pretentious even if he doesn’t see it.
Fast forward to Keep Beach City Weird, his debut episode, he starts out with coming to the wrong conclusions at first. Steven provides him with actual evidence, when “his truth” was shattered, it broke his spirit and became depressed. Steven thought regressing back to his old theory would cheer him up but as we all remember (Ronaldo knocking out Snerson Steven and taking him to the lighthouse) that didn’t go so well. But when presented with more evidence, Ronaldo’s theories was turned into the right direction. He guessed correctly, that all the weird stuff going on and will happen in the future will be from Polymorphic sentient rocks, hollowing out the earth, diamond authority, etc.
Fast forward to Rising Tides/ Crashing Skies, Ronaldo is heading towards the right direction, but still makes errors in his theory of understanding the crystal gems, the lore, and so forth. But before we dive into that, this episode deserves some justice. It was a useless filler recap as most would remember it, but it gave us insight on how the beach residents feel towards the CGs, and post invasion arc. I still find it really jarring that the residents are so indifferent and un-phased with the whole ordeal. You would think evacuating your home, literally seeing a giant hand in the sky would effect some of the towns folk other than Ronaldo, but none. They all go back to their daily routine which is really interesting. Makes you wonder if Mayor Dewey is really covering up something lol. The hand invasion effected Ronaldo, it made him question if the CGs are friend and foe. After his investigation, he tried to get them to leave, but ended up backfiring on himself, as Peedee mentioned he will have nothing to blog about if they leave. So he begged them to stay but they were never going to leave. RT/CS developed Ronaldo’s acknowledgement of the CGs and their role in fighting invaders and “rock people (uncorrupted gems). But this development didn’t end there.
Now here comes the latest Ronaldo episode, Rocknaldo. From trolling on CN’s part, and Ronaldo over doing it again, the fandom is ranting as usual. Rocknaldo held what may be the last part of his character arc in understanding the CGs, Steven educated Ronaldo that the CGs and the rock people (corrupted gems) they fight are one and the same. Ronaldo quickly apologizes and sees it as an opportunity to join the CGs. He even gets his own gemsona Bloodstone lmfaoo. But as usual sticking to his character, he over does it, pushes Steven’s buttons, and fails to understand the CGs in the middle part of the episode. Moral of the story, humans need sleep. Don’t stay awake for 48 hours, you might become a Jerknaldo lol. The last 2 minutes plus his Ronalphlet/Blog post sealed his character development. He spent the last 3 weeks reflecting on his behavior and apologized to Steven for being a Jerknaldo. He realized to be a proper friend/ally to Steven and the CGs, he has to listen to them and not make it about himself. He remade his Ronalphlet to give more info about the CGs and how the beach city residents can help, which is very important enough and most likely play a role later.
Overall Ronaldo’s development led to this point so far in the story. His character arc is hard to follow if you only watch his episodes once, don’t read his blog posts, or you just despise his character to a point you don’t care whatever comes out of his mouth. He finally is in the know how of the CGs ( not the same level as Connie and Greg unfortunately) but enough to inform the other side characters and beach city residents which should play a role when Homeworld invades the Earth again.
Bonus to his character is that even his wrong theories somehow ended up right (The Zoo, Diamond authority, etc.). Only a matter of time for Sneeple to become canon lol.
Guys, Ronaldo was basically tumblr, and we all got fukkin rekt.
Is this why Ronaldo is generally an unpopular character? Is it because we’re all unable to handle the projection held in the mirror that is Ronaldo Fryman? That we reject him just as we reject our own flaws?
I for one suggest we take a good long look, and laugh at the lil’ curly haired goofus cause c’mon guys Ronaldo’s just a sack of good times.