Why Do You Like Steven Universe? – The Psychology Behind Media

ALCon 2017 panel on psychological theories of adult enjoyment of children’s media using the show Steven Universe as an exemple.

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12 comments

  1. Steven Universe is amazing.

    • One of many but yes. I recently discovered also Star vs the Forces of Evil. I originally skip it because first season is average, but after that show become really great. And who didn’t watch Gravity Falls?

  2. I think this is a generational thing, but also a quality thing.

    This phenomenon started with the end of the “animation age Ghetto” in the late 80s and early 90s when animation was no longer deemed only “kids stuff” by western audiences.

    The adults watching Steven Universe are mostly young millenial adults. (I’m sure there are some Boomers and GenX’ers that really enjoy it) There’s sort of an in-between era where many people that enjoy animation will continue to watch but with a more discerning eye for only the best written shows.

    • EG: People that grew up in the 80s continued to watch shows like Batman TAS, Animaniacs, and Gargoyles.

      Later, it was the last Airbender and Justice League, then more recently Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Steven Universe.

      • You’ve got something there.
        I grew up as a teenager during the 2000’s where there was practically no cartoons worthy to watch, with a few exceptions like Justice League and Avatar. This was when I was more interested in Anime because they had much to offer. It was by the late 2000’s that things started to improve with Spectacular Spider-Man in 2008, and in 2010 I watched and became a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic in 2010. After this I’ve been watching more western animation.

      • You are too optimistic.. yes, in the 90’ties there were several usually comic book related shows worth watching (speaking of that famous “toy commercial” cartoons from 80’ties, like G1 Transformers also were produced by Marvel) and lets not forget Disney Renesanse what spread also on they TV series like mentioned Gargoyles, plus if someone is deeper in that skit style cartoons like Loony Tunes originated as product for adult before silver screen diminish them to “kid shows”. But claim that cartoons stop being deemed as “kids stuff” is false, like also you forget or ignore that most cartoons in 90’ties were still expletive or/and toy commercials.

        Yes, Akira, GitS and NGS did break this idea regard to anime in 90’ties, but it wasn’t until Shrek when people start acknowledge 3D animation as family entertainment and even today you can bump on some moron “you watch cartoons for kids, you retard.. douh”.

        Also as someone already pointed out, early two thousands were times of horrible hole.. basically a another dark age of media. Last Airbender and Justice Liege were exceptions, not a rule. Basically from second decade media start rise to quality again, with gradually better and better cartoons. Outside Adventure Time, Regular Show and Steven Universe we have also great Gravity Falls, Star vs the Forces o Evil and Star Wars Rebels (all made by Disney who is in the zone now.. plus current Duck Tales reboot in more comic style what was for slightly more mature audience) plus The Looney Tunes Show, and also mentioned MLP:FiM but not only.. also Transformers RiD and Prime, and GI Joe Renegades were decent. Comicbook adaptations even not mentioning.. see the pattern?

        Good part is that on current 80-90’ties nostalgia wave we get usually the best with few occasional stinkers like horrible Power Puff Girls reboot. Not the 90’ties trashy series (excluding TMNT what count as comicbook adaptation though). We even get decent Power Rangers movie.. lol

  3. I’ve never seen this show, but it sounds pretty neat, and I’ve heard good things about it. I have personally been a Brony since 2014 though, and even chose them as my topic of study for my Qualitative Methods class back in university. I was a sociology major who now holds a sociology BA and I’ve found the subject of adult kinderculture fascinating. This vid is interesting, and does seem to help explain why a grown man with a degree and a career could possibly like My Little Pony, or more specifically Friendship is Magic (as I’m not so fond of other MLP shows).

    • From worth checking alongside Steven Universe, pure “cartoons” (not comicbook or franchise adaptations): Gravity Falls, Star vs the Forces of Evil, Adventure Time and Regular Show.

      PS: For its times G1 My Little Pony was decent (made by Marvel after all). FiM in fact is remake-sequel of Rescue from the Midnight Castle, and contain references to basically all those series. Of course I not force anyone, but knowing them give another layer of the plot.

      • Oh, I’ve gone back and watched the G1-3 shows, and I’m glad I’ve seen them for the context they provide. I just have no desire to see them again, although Rescue at Midnight Castle has to be the most alright of the past gen material.

        I’m not sure if I have the time to dedicate to another series as it already makes little sense that My Little Pony has slowly but surely sucked my soul away, and I’m certain I don’t need another obsession as between MLP and gaming, my monthly visa bill is high enough, but I guess if I can get into the occasional anime, checking out the first episode of another cartoon can’t hurt. I’ll just have to mull it over.

        • I didn’t expect that but ok..

          RfMC is most important from G1 shows as those events are straight up continued in forth season of FiM, and it explain many many stuff. Mostly the nature of element of magic and Scorpan, or what did happen to the him and his Empire (what “doesn’t look” like corrupted Crystal Empire from episode under same name) and his dragon assistant. Plus not-Starlight (G1 Twilight aka Majesty) was there with her tricky sister and one seriously discorded wizard, girl from human world and Sirens.

          Escape from Catrina is skipable (though cat person would me in upcoming movie), and from the movie you learn about one slimy creature, dog headed gnomes, “shy” insect like ponies, and purple pony with a dragon. TV series is mostly random, but from noteworthy we have reference to crystal heart used to stup rock demon (plus bird person would me in upcoming movie). G2 could happen somewhere in Baltimare, G3 is three tribe period from Hearts Warming Eve legend (including purple pony princes with a dragon saying “I wait thousand year for a princess”, not-Celestia and not-Candace in non-Crystal Empire) and G3.5 events from Harts and Hooves Day legend (loosely).

          Though most of that is not that important outside that it did happen so you can skip it. Only RfMC is really important.

  4. I think I should address it as it was bring up in the panel.

    HUGE SPOILERS (season 5)

    When Steven was put on trial, huge twist was that Diamonds don’t blame Rose Quartz for shattering Pink Diamond because.. haza.. she couldn’t do that. They only want to know WTF did happen back then? This was foreshadowed before by Bismuth who pointed out that Rose sword was incapable to shatter gems (it is why she work on gam shattering device). Quite obvious though unspoken conclusion was that it was that Diamond was behind it, but even if Yellow Diamond is hostile it is unlikely that she is responsible because it was her who push on investigation what as culprit she would not as it was cold case. Only possible culprit in such case is “White” Diamond. Speaking of that her absence is quite weird? I have a theory that she is more a religious figure and no one did see her for quite some time. After all if she wasn’t present there was no reason to not reference her, but for obvious reason people don’t talk about Jesus in mundane cases (at least normal one). That would also explain why Diamonds were so shocked by that conclusion. The reason is quite simple. Even if Diamonds love Pink Diamond, she was unique.. we do have clues that she was way smaller and younger then other Diamonds (most homeworld games even don’t know that she did exist). Conclusion is that she was shattered due to her imperfection (and possible source of gem “corruption” as she has tendency to keep imperfect gems*) by perfect White Diamond. But that is a tip of iceberg. Anyway this reveal make huge point for “Rose Quartz” i “Pink Diamond” theory because as it is now White Diamond involvement is unknown. I have theory though that she is in completely unexpected way.. and all due to Crystal Game Pearl. Diamond Pearl has gems placed in places corresponding to they masters. It was strongly suggested that CG Pearl was Pink Diamond Pearl (she has peach pink heir) though her gem placement say something else (**). One of things bring on the court was lack of security (hostile Diamond could remove outside security, but not her close servants). Lack of Pearl reaction could be explained easily by her involvement in the rebellion, but not lack of reaction of the Sapphire (CG Sapphire wasn’t involved in the case and was abandoned shortly after arriving on Earth). One of possible explanation is that it was Padparadscha. A off color Sapphire incapable to see future (that would prove previously mentioned “*”). Only other explanation of that would be if Pink Diamond use circumstances to switch sides with rebelling Rose Quartz (I remind that not many gems know her look so without Pearl intervention they could easily mistake them if she take Rose sword after shattering her). But that not all. How White Diamond was involved? The Pearl.. she has game placed on forehead as White Diamond according to her depictions. She is in fact White Diamond Pearl (as “**” say) who for some reason serve Pink Diamond. Did she kill her? No she couldn’t. So how? Well.. what if our Rose Quartz wasn’t also a Pink Diamond? What is she is a White Diamond, who become for some reason obsessed with Earth and imperfection? She created Pink Diamond alter ego as “insanity” of the goddess would threat whole civilization. But things did go further and she ended at first as leader of the rebellion (it wasn’t ever confirmed but it was most likely to save Earth from the system) and later as a Steven. There are clues what suggest that.. first of all many construction on Earth are white when gems tend to use own colors. It is usually refereed as “old tech” but other Pink Diamond structures aren’t like that.. only oldest, what suggest strongly that Earth was originally a White Diamond Colony. This include Pink Diamond command centre on moon (officially confirmed as such). One of biggest clue is one of oldest thin in the series, “Moon Goddess Statue”. It reference moon (a Pink Diamond base of operation), godhood (a presumed White Diamond status) and look as Rose Quartz holding Brilliant Diamond (round diamond what look as quartz from top).

    Obviously those are just a theories..

    • Also I forget to mention.. it is quite possible that if this theory is correct that real Cristal Gems were in fact the villains. If Pink Diamond start creating off color gems (there is also a theory that she was off color herself, though I can get credit for that) and make other weird movements as human zoo (what as creepy as it sound contradict the idea of her vile intentions). It is quite possible that some of her gems would rebel seeing that as blasphemy in they purity obsession. Here it is worth to remind that neither of the current Cristal Gems were those participating in those events outside Pearl who is clearly involved in conspiracy, so not reliable source about those events. Amethyst was born after events, and Ruby and Sapphire were homeworld games abandoned in retreat. After Pink Diamond “death” Cristal Gems resist until were all corrupted by Diamonds weapon called Corrupting Light (destructive but not planet destroying). Only our Rose Quarts and her close allies, a two previously irrelevant gems who survived due to Rose power (CG Pearl could be infamous due to her involvement in Pink Diamond death, so her real achievements before that are unknown). Still even after that homeworld did attempt to erase Earth colony with use of crystal cluster. A weapon what was dud, but strong enough to justify full retreat and make everyone convinced that Earth don’t exist anymore until Steven make a call to Yellow Diamond. A clearly astonishing oversight until someone giving orders intended to remove both forces from Earth.. otherwise something on edge of a plothole.

      But again, those are just theories..

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