A Jasper Case Study (Part 8): Conclusion
The Road to Redemption
Before working on the new episodes, it occurred to me that I hadn’t tied up the loose end that was the Jasper Case Study. While I will be writing about her in her future appearances, I do want to end with this post, sort of as a marker of where we thought Jasper would be as opposed to where she could possibly end up.
So, before I formally start off this post, I want to do a brief recapitulation of what we’ve read from Jasper’s character thus far.
Jasper is the best and most perfect thing to come out of a bad kindergarten… She always believed herself to be the best. But she’s too full of herself. Amethyst was the runt and one of the worse things to come out of a kindergarten always believing her to be the worst. But with encouragement and people telling her she was the one good thing to come out of a kindergarten.
Not meaning to use this ask to insinuate anything about the asker, I would like to use it as an example for the general sentiment around Jasper when I started writing the Case Study nine months ago. We’d just got episodes like Crack the Whip, Alone at Sea, and Earthlings.
What we found was that Jasper’s exit hole was what Peridot called, “the most perfect” she’s ever seen. And the first thing I wanted to point out there was what was meant by that kind of perfection. In the show, we get the sense that Peridot, in her very literal and pragmatic way of speaking, was talking about the hole, without steady implications towards Jasper herself.
Because in SU, there’s more to a gem’s gem-etics than just the exit hole. The material of the ground, the minerals in the dirt, all determine the kind of gem that will emerge. And I think it’s important to note that the Beta Kindergarten was exactly that, a second banana to the Alpha Kindergarten next door.
It was a last ditch effort on Homeworld’s part to claim back the war. They didn’t expect any gem from the Beta Kindergarten to be strong or worth keeping. They needed more gems, and haphazardly stuck injectors into the ground.
I think it says a lot that in the Zoo, the majority of Quartz gems are Amethysts, with only a handful of stragglers from the Beta Kindergarten like Carnelian and a few Jaspers. Something I talked about in the past was that there was a good chance the majority of her Kindergarten-mates didn’t survive the war.
To gems, the “defects” are obvious. Jasper and
Peridot immediately knew, for instance, that Amethyst was a “runt,” and that
Garnet was a fusion. It was sheer luck that in the frenzy of trying to incubate
more gems, Jasper’s was given just enough space, enough depth, such that she
would emerge the way a Jasper should.
Jasper escaped a lot of what the other Earth gems suffered by never truly escaping the war. In her own words, she keeps fighting. Fighting is how she shows she’s just like everyone else, not just the kid from the Beta Kindergarten. And so it wouldn’t make a lot of sense that she’s so “full of herself.” If fighting was what got her recognised, and gave her some sense of control and order in the chaos of being born in the worst parts of the war, why would she keep doing it now in peacetime? Despite her relatively high rank, and her being a celebrated war hero, she still stands by this philosophy.
It shows that the issues she was fighting during the war, never really went away.
The moment she felt she could be stronger in a fusion, it consumed her completely. We got the same feeling from Amethyst and Pearl, when they were with Garnet. Being in a headspace with someone so confident and sure of themselves is intoxicating when that is precisely what one feels is missing.
Recently, we’ve seen a character who is full of herself, who thinks herself the best and incapable of failure. We’ve seen how Aquamarine operates. She isn’t fond of long-winded speeches about herself and her moral code, something Jasper has done since her very first appearance. When she can, she defers the work over to Topaz, fully committing to a role in reconnaissance, in the shadows.
She doesn’t mind that she looks weak and small, in fact, she uses it to her advantage in Are You My Dad? Because she knows that when it all comes down to it, she could take anyone in her way.
When Steven tries to poke at possible self-esteem issues in Stuck Together, Aquamarine isn’t even fazed. Nothing takes her aback. Instead, she puts up a face of disgust and confusion, because she can’t imagine why people would think she didn’t feel great about herself.
In contrast, Jasper is constantly trying to convince those around her, and herself, that she’s all she’s cracked up to be, that she can indeed fill the perfect hole out of which she emerged. Amid her trauma from the war and the stress of maintaining that image, without realising no one, in fact, is looking that closely.
I don’t get why people are so hung up on Jasper being such an awful gem. Every single one of them have done unforgivable things, they’ve all done things that really unsettled me, none of them are completely good. There is no complete good or bad, two sides to every coin. And sometimes its ignorance. People hate Jasper so much, but what they don’t seem to be seeing is that she doesn’t know how bad she is. Shes been taught its good. We’ve been taught it’s bad. Yes its awful, but they’ve all done bad stuff.
And I think it’s here that we start talking about what exactly that “bad stuff” is that opens up talk of redemption in the first place and how she might be reached on these different fronts. I talk about these in plural because it is seldom that someone does a particular harmful thing once and continues to believe it was right. Usually there is an entire framework in which they are enmeshed, a lot of values and traditions in which they are indoctrinated. And I think that this lens, of a wider sociocultural structure with each action and word having its own meaning, is something that can be applied to all the characters.
It should be said that motivations and actions aren’t completely dictated by the individual in as much as they are the member of a larger community. How we’re brought up, what we consume, the people with whom we choose to surround ourselves, all of these things affect what we value and how we decide to act.
With that said, I want to apply that to Jasper for this post. As I’ve said many times, I think it’s important to understand why actors do things. While the action in itself can be analysed, particularly when going for reform, understanding the individual is necessary to reach them and prevent said harmful action from being done again.