I was thinking about why Rose Quartz/Pink Diamond is so hated.
The obvious answer is because of the horrible things she did.
But the other diamonds did horrible things too…worse things even.
Pink abandoned Spinel, which is wrong, but Spinel was planning to kill every living thing on Earth to spite the son of a person who was no longer even alive. Yet, no one talks about what a monster Spinel is.
So many Steven Universe characters have hurt people, but we forgive them and are happy to see them redeemed.
So why not Rose?
Then, it hit me: because Rose’s redemption arc is told to us in reverse.
The first time we see Rose is toward the end of her life when she is pregnant with Steven. We see her appreciation for life and how full of love she is for Greg and her future child. She’s willingly sacrificing herself to bring a new life into the world.
But then, we start learning who Rose used to be, all her mistakes, all the people she hurt.
The loving mother in Steven’s video becomes a distant memory.
For those of you who hate Rose, imagine her backstory unfolded a little differently for us.
We’re introduced to Pink Diamond: she’s spoiled, bratty, immature, irresponsible, and inconsiderate.
She throws temper tantrums when she doesn’t get her way.
Not exactly an endearing character, right?
But one day, her tantrum injure Pink Pearl, her best friend. From that day on, she keeps everything to herself. Now we see her dealing with a consequence of her bad behavior.
Then we see how she’s abused by the other diamonds. We start to sympathize with her.
We see her try to save Earth. We see her trying to do the right thing for once.
But it backfires horribly.
She spends the rest of her life trying to fix it, but she can’t.
She meets Greg. Here is where Rose has the most emotional growth as a character. She learns what is truly means to be a “real person.”
Finally, she grows such an appreciation for human life, that she decides to sacrifice her form to bring her son into the world.
The reason Rose is so much more controversial than other characters who have done problematic things is because her story is told in reverse, her redemption comes across as a fall from grace.
But there are plenty of characters who have a fall from grace who are still not as controversial as Rose. The reason why many people are less sympathetic to Rose is because we never see how Rose reacts to her mistakes. We never get much insight into how Rose feels about herself and the things she’s done. We get small hints:
For everyone who hates Rose, I get why. But I think we need to remember who she became instead of who she was.
Just noticed something in Rose Buds. Steven is obsessed with trying to find a new place to put his mom’s picture. He remarks that after everything that happened he doesn’t want her “hanging” over them anymore.
Obviously, this isn’t just about the painting, but Steven trying to figure out what to do with this “perfect image” of his mother and his mixed feelings about her.
Amethyst then remarks “I’m telling you man, it’s not the placement, it’s the frame.” It seems like a small silly comment, which is then quickly interrupted by the arrival of the Zoomans. But seeing the continued use of Rose’s painting throughout the show and specifically this episode, I wonder if the Crew is actually saying it’s about the framing.
Steven is still not dealing with his complicated feelings about his mom. He continues to act like he’s fine and to ignore what he’s really feeling, bottling up his anger, hurt and confusion, as if ignoring the past will allow him to move on.
But, in reality he needs to face his feelings towards his mom and be honest with them. He needs to reframe how he thinks about her and sees her, not just this perfect image that has hung over him forever or a list of terrible things she’s done. He can’t change that Rose was his mother and that she is part of him, but he needs to reckon with all his feelings, however complicated or contradictory, so he can accept what has happened, how they affect him and who he is, and actually move forward.
Okay so after watching the new SU Future episodes I have a new theory; Steven will leave Beach City at the end of the series.
There’s some possible foreshadowing going on. Each episode now begins with a view from inside Steven’s car with Beach City and the Temple reflected in the rear view mirror. The outro continues this theme with the car passing by Beach City and the Temple. There is purposeful movement in both these sequences. The first person POV in the title card places us the viewers in the driver’s seat. We are going forward into the unknown with familiar images from the past either passing by or disappearing into the sunset. We are symbolically Steven traveling away from the past and towards the future.
Contrast this with the main title card and outro of the previous series. They’re much more passive sequences. The background remains stationary and the animation is limited to the weather and objects being moved by forces of nature. Laundry flutters on the clothesline, clouds pass over the ocean, grass rustles in the breeze, etc. Sometimes the colors change with the light, sometimes there is rain or snow. The POV keeps us grounded in the same spot while things happen around us. We have no power, much like Steven himself was during that time.
It’s no coincidence that driving a car features so prominently in SU Future. The story takes place when Steven has matured and gained greater power and agency. He has changed the world around him and in many ways he has changed as well, but as we’ve seen in these first four episodes there is still much growing for him to do. Beach City is not the same place it was years ago, and Steven is not the same Steven he once was, but being in the same place all his life is ultimately hindering his growth. Leaving home and starting a new life elsewhere is an important rite of passage from childhood to adulthood. He’s outgrowing his old home, like a baby bird that’s grown too big for the nest and needs to learn how to fly.
In closing, the lyrics of the new ending song are very meaningful for Steven. “Just a little time, just a little something else instead.” Steven has devoted his life to one cause that is all but resolved. Perhaps now he’ll finally get something else instead.
Oh my god, the new SU Future episodes have put so much in context for me about Pink and her fear of confrontation. Why she lied to the Crystal Gems, hiding from her past, running away and abandoning Spinel… she wasn’t only afraid of being hurt herself, she was also afraid she would hurt them.
Pink had powerful destructive abilities that were activated by negative emotions and emotional confrontation, and had badly hurt someone she loved in the past. (Likely without ever meaning to, if Steven was any indication - the power activated simply because he was angry and hurting, not because he made any moves to harm anyone.) Pink was terrified that if she got into an emotionally heated argument that she might do it again, terrified that if she ever lost her temper, if she ever so much as raised her voice in a moment of anger or pain she could literally scar someone for life. She was so afraid that she bottled up and suppressed those feelings, and avoided any situation that might lead to her exploding at people she cared about, even if it meant lying, manipulating, or leaving them rather than risk ever doing something like that again.