Steven Universe is a Cartoon Network show making waves for being overtly, purposefully, and sometimes even radically representational when it deals with gender, sexuality and race. Rebecca Sugar, the series creator, has even made public statements on the LGBT+ angle and her personal connection to those themes. I am not going to talk about those big representational issues this time though; I would rather turn our attention to a tinier topic: the ever-adorable, supremely dorky Peridot.
Peridot, in a single word, is “adorkable.” She is a short, intellectually oriented, socially clueless, show-obsessed dork full of impotent anger, a deeply embedded inferiority complex, plenty of trivia knowledge, weird ways of wording ordinary things and a resourcefulness MacGyver himself would envy. It makes for a fascinating mixed bag of traits I’ve never encountered before and it's exciting because—insane resourcefulness aside—I’ve got it all in spades. That realization sat a little uncomfortably for awhile, because no matter how much of myself I see in her, I can’t deny how precious I find this little alien dork.
The problem is that I despise being called cute. Cute is for small children and baby animals. Cute is never taken seriously. Cute is weak. When a friend (or even worse, a colleague) calls me or something I’ve done “cute,” I get legitimately upset—and the argument that follows is, as I expect, never taken seriously. “You’re so cute when you get all huffy like that.” I’d be lying if I said I never wanted to shake these friends of mine until they let go of their ridiculous notions, scream at them with all the fury of my apparently impotent rage and frustration. In calmer moments I’ve called them out on their (according to me) warped perception; grilled them on what it is they see that justifies the name-calling.
The answers? Being shorter. Being nerdy. Being awkward and quiet. Getting all fired up when talking about shows, books or games that I love. Getting confused by social interactions that don’t follow a strict script. Getting hopelessly lost in new places because I have the directional sense of a kitten stumbling off a flying-saucer ride.
Essentially: most of the reasons I find Peridot so adorable.
I’m still not sure what to make of it all, though I have noticed it bothers me less when persistent friends keep tossing “cute” into their vocabulary about me lately. I’m sure that getting to see a deep and constantly growing cutie-pie on screen—whose cuteness does nothing to detract from her worth—has plenty to do with it.
Not that Peridot’s a fan of being called cute either. Just saying.
Marty Le Gallez
Marty is an aspiring author from Ottawa, armed with an imagination stuck in permanent overdrive, a BA in English from OttawaU, and (soon enough) Professional Writing credentials from Algonquin College. When not writing, Marty’s usually occupied in some aspect of geek culture—from consuming new media (and revisiting old favourites for the thousandth time), to cosplay and conventions.