Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is known by the blockbuster-worthy nickname “Europe’s Last Dictator,” and by gosh is he committed to living up to that title. Aside from a habit of making his political opponents disappear like a fascist magician, Lukashenko’s Belarus is rife with censorship, rigged elections, and general human rights skullfuckery. He’s the kind of guy Steven Seagal would hunt down in a bad action movie. However, in real life, Steven Seagal hunted Lukashenko down to eat carrots at his house.
What force on Earth, barring some common enemy living in a supervolcano, could bring these two together? Apparently, Seagal has family ties to Belarus – family he presumably doesn’t speak to very often, or else he’d be too busy rescuing them to hang out with their oppressor. On the contrary, Lukashenko is someone he’s “long dreamed of meeting,” and not to karate chop him in the face. During their get-together, Lukashenko greeted him with gifts of melons and carrots, which is either a traditional Belarusian party favor or a mad dictator seeing how much crazy bullshit he can get a movie star to eat.
When gently confronted with Lukashenko’s long record of human rights abuses, Seagal brushed off the accusations as rumors, commenting that “Every single president I know, and I know many, there are rumors about all of them.” Sure, we all know there are wingnuts who still thinks Bush did 9/11, but when your carrot-slinging friend has been subjected to actual EU sanctions, it might be time for some quiet reflection. But hey, we all have soft spots – Seagal’s happens to be for vicious autocrats.
Can we talk about how much I love Steven Universe?! And completely putting aside how awesome the actual show is, let’s talk about the diversity for a second.
¾ of the main cast are actors of color!
Estelle as Garnet
Michael Dietz as Amethyst
Deedee Magno as Pearl
AND one of the four main characters (and really the best one, IMO) is a black woman with a badass afro!
WHO IS ALSO not just queer, but is the embodiment and personification of the lesbian relationship between two characters.
Ruby and Sapphire (yes, I know gems are technically genderless, but they identify/present as women and use she/her and ultimately that’s what the audience sees, so it’s still important queer female representation)
Whose voice actors are also women of color
Charlyne Yi (Ruby) and Erica Luttrell (Sapphire)
And there’s definitely some Les Yay/implied romantic feelings between Pearl and Rose Quartz, if one-sided (Pearl).
Rose and Pearl fuse into Rainbow Quartz
Actually, a lot of the fusions are incredibly Les Yay:
Garnet and Amethyst fuse into Sugilite
And there are so many side characters of color:
The Fish Stew Pizza Family
And so many great guest stars of color:
Godfrey (Kofi Pizza)
Reagan Gomez-Preston (Jenny Pizza)
Toks Olagundoye (Nanefua Pizza)
Sinbad (Mr. Smiley)
Matthew Moy (Lars)
Kimberly Brooks (Jasper)
And one amazing mega superstar of color as a very memorable character:
Nicki Minaj (Sugilite)
AND Steven’s love interest is an Indian-American girl
All of this is just to say how nice it is to look at a cast and character list and see such diversity. And the show is just so freaking spectacular. It really stands in stark comparison to those projects where characters are whitewashed and the casting director throws out the old “we hired the best person for the job” line and it’s some bland white person who can’t act themselves out of a paper bag.
YAY Steven Universe, and YAY Rebecca Sugar the FIRST WOMAN to create a show for Cartoon Network (and she’s not even 30 yet!)!