Steven Universe is allegedly using characters Lapis and Peridot to ?queer bait? viewers. Fans expressed their outrage on Twitter which led to writer and storyboard artist, Lauren Zuke, to delete her account.
Lapis and Peridot are two members of the shows? Crystal Gems which consist of magical rock women. Zuke previously retweeted a fan art of the two characters which apparently showed her support of the two being romantically involved.
She then co-wrote and storyboarded the episode, ?Barn Mates,? which puts a spotlight on the two characters; then months later, the show revisited their relationship in ?Beta.? According to A.V. Club, that?s when fans? reactions to the pair got particularly bad.
The publication notes that the online backlash came from two different directions: shippers who got annoyed and outraged by what they perceived as Zuke pushing her preferred pairing; and others who accused the show for ?queer baiting.?
Queer baiting is when television shows or films infuse ?homoerotic? tension between two characters of the same gender in order to attract more queer viewers, according to Bust. It also attempts to make viewers feel that they?re getting sufficient representation without really providing genuine portrayals of these relationships. The show or film mostly makes it clear that the two characters are in love throughout the story but end up never going to get together. Queer baiting is condemned by critics and audiences as a manipulative use of sexuality in order to attract more viewers and attention.
Zuke felt brutally harassed by the online attackers and decided to just shut down her Twitter account. Her last tweet was, ?Thousands of people who think because I work on a TV show that I owe them myself all the time.?
Before deleting her account, Zuke also tweeted, ?remember youre tweeting a literal human being (that?s what I am btw) and life exists outside of steven universe? and ?i don?t have control over anything. i like lapis and peridot theyre cool. shout out to people who enjoy the show and criticize it too.?
Steven Universe airs weeknights on Cartoon Network.