Gender Brown Bag: ‘Twice the Gem That You Are’ lecture

“Twice the Gem That You Are: An Analysis of Garnet the Crystal Gem’s Queer Embodiment” is one of the lectures in the Gender Brown Bag series. Noelle Blood, assistant director of marketing communications for the School of Law, will present at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 in the Cottonwood Room on the third level of the Memorial Union.

Kelly Erby, associate professor for the history department, is the organizer of the Gender Brown Bag series.

“The series is an informal opportunity for students, faculty, staff and members of the community to talk about issues related to gender, or researches they are doing about gender, or their teaching that relates to gender,” said Erby. “We usually have between six and eight presentations throughout the semester and they are always over the noon hour and people bring lunch. That’s why they are called Brown Bags.” 

The Cartoon Network show, Steven Universe, is the coming-of-age story of a young boy named Steven Universe, living in the fictional town of Beach City. He has adventures with Crystal Gems, magical and humanoid aliens and helps the Gems protect the world.

“I really like the show Steven Universe, and so just watching that show I got interested into how the characters express themselves,” said Blood. “I took my theoretical lens of queer theory and applied it to the show, and the outcome is the paper that I am presenting.”

Steven Universe frequently showcases expressions of queer affection, love and lifestyles, including the hidden identity of Garnet, the leader of the heroic Crystal Gems group. As an individual composed of two separate Gem beings, Ruby and Sapphire, Garnet exhibits a fluid affective embodiment of both Gems’ personalities as well as their gendered characteristics and affection for each other.

“The fact that they love each other and respect each other is what helps them to stay as one person,” said Blood. “Thinking about that in the context of the everyday life, relationships are more based on male [and] female, and they are also based more on power dynamic. Since the show is a fantasy cartoon show, it allows a lot more interest and fantastical ways to explore that.”

Blood will discuss an analysis to understand and advocate for the sociocultural value of illustrating queer and other-embodied individuals in popular media. She incorporates theories of queerness, affect, and performative gender into the realms of embodiment, fantasy and science fiction.

“The show is sort of intended for kids and sort of intended for adults. If kids are watching this, then those messages that they are internalizing help make them more accepting to people in the world,” said Blood. “It’s important that we look at that, and don’t take it for granted, so that we can make sure that we are all better, more accepting people.”

The presentation is free and open to the public, and people are encouraged to bring and have lunch during the hour. For more information about “Twice the Gem That You Are,” contact Blood via email at [email protected].