‘Off colors’, ‘mistakes’ born from lesser Kindergartens and random ‘defective’ runts, fugitives, traitors, rebels and unnatural freaks.
It’s obvious that the totalitarian Gem Homeworld’s strictly intolerant standards that deem those considered aberrant and therefore abhorrent ‘lesser’ citizens closely mirror our own society’s system of opressing those who don’t fit the ideal ‘norm’. Humans, though we are born in a wide range of shapes and sizes and unique characteristics, must fit into a very narrow set of physical traits in order to be accepted. We’re expected to conform even in coloration, and disconcertingly, we live in a reality that deems those of the ‘wrong’ shade to be ‘wrong’ as people. By being unable to perform tasks that we are ‘supposed’ to be able to perform, we’re considered leeches on society, undeserving of even the right to live. Humans can form certain types of bonds with one another that our cultures find despicable. We do it all the time, and are often killed for it.
I find it interesting to note that the world of Steven Universe paints a completely unsubtle picture of the qualities that make our own world harsh and unforgiving for the outliers of society, and it makes it a central point to always take the side of the oppressed. The heroes of the story are like us: gems who suffered and were broken, gems who are ‘sentimental’ and ‘unnaturally’ attached to other gems and risking shattering in order to stay together, gems without the magical abilities they were designed to be able to accomplish and are therefore judged to be developmentally inferior, gems who ‘came out wrong’ and gems who cannot stand to remain in their assigned places in a degrading system.
And the show notes, time and time again, that the system is wrong. These outliers deserve to live freely, unoppressed and considered valid individuals despite their differences. And the outliers fight back- that’s the whole plot. Innocent people are in danger because the system is flawed, and it’s up to the heroes to figure out how to bring it down.
This matters to me because I’m an outlier too. I see myself, with my disabilities, as like a peridot with no weapon or a Padparadscha sapphire who cannot predict the future. I see myself, an LGBT individual, as someone at risk of being pulled apart from those I yearn for by an intolerant culture. I see myself and all of my undesirable physical characteristics as like a gem that emerged from her hole looking too different to condone. I see myself in the characters that are searching for empowerment, and determined to defend themselves from the enemy that would deem their lives worthless.
If I were a gem, I’d be an off-color.
And I’m proud of it.