So, today’s topic is going to be a bit more serious. I’ll preface this by saying that I have never watched Steven Universe and have no plans to in the future. I’ll also say that I have been bullied online as well, but not to the extent that this victim has.
For those of you who don’t know, recently a fan artist for Steven Universe ended up in the hospital after a suicide attempt. The attempt was caused by online bullying and harassment. The bullies cite “problematic elements” in the victim’s work as a reason for their outrage. The victim had uploaded drawings of thin, somewhat white-washed versions of the characters on the show and the users of tumblr pounced.
Now, I’m not going to say that her work was not problematic. But she didn’t deserve that. The artist was one, a minor, and two, not a professional. And with the way tumblr works, an artist can only become popular through people spreading their work. So it makes you wonder: Why not just not spread her artwork? If you don’t like something, why spread it further? There are plenty of problematic works out there to talk about. Plenty of discussions to have about the prejudiced nature of the artistic and entertainment industries. Do we really need to take it out on some random no-name girl on a blogging website?
Both sides have made excellent points, but I don’t think anyone can actually defend online harassment and bullying. I find myself siding with the folks who think artists should do whatever they want. As a writer, I sometimes like to write about offensive things and explore characters who have prejudices. When you submit online, you will get feedback, positive and negative. Everyone has a right to comment on whatever you post. But no one has the right to tell you to “kill yourself” or harass you repeatedly. If you want change, talking calmly to the person about what you think and your perspective is your best bet. Otherwise, you end up with this whole mess.
There are a couple of quotes I’ll leave you all to think about. I hope the artist gets better and finds a better show to like and spend her time drawing art for.
“A well meaning desire to “protect” others has somehow created the 1st gen of kids who think censorship = cooler than expression” – a tweet from an SU creator
I gotta wonder how drawing fanart that depicts a character not exactly canon or not matching one’s headcanon is taking representation away… They’re still the same in the show and that’s what matters. – a tumblr user
A lot of people seem to confuse their right to do whatever they want (they should) with a right “not to be offended”, which doesn’t exist. It can’t exist in an open society. – another tumblr user
And finally, a tweet from an SU creator:
EDIT: I just saw some screenshots of posts made after the incident and I am DISGUSTED. Be warned, the next few images are hard to read.
I kind of rest my case. Also, these claims are WAY past anything she actually did. Here was her art.
I can’t even find these other drawings being referenced… I would post the victim’s deviantart, but I don’t really have permission to do so.