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Thursday, July 16, 2015

In Defense of Pearl

The fandom of Steven Universe is very passionate about the characters. And that's perfectly understandable. Steven Universe has a cast of well rounded, fleshed out, developed characters that, despite the fact that the main stars are aliens and one half alien, are very relatable. Even though the have extra terrestrial origins, they still seem very human and the reason for that is because they have what makes all of us human: we have flaws.

A running theme of Steven Universe is embracing imperfection. No matter how perfect some people may appear, there will always be those chinks in their armor. This is probably more than apparent with Pearl. Early in the first season, it seemed like Steven was the one always messing things up, but more often than not, he was the one to correct his own mistakes. Midway through the first season, we began to see that Pearl, in spite of her smarts and perfectionist nature, could very well be the most flawed of the Crystal Gems. In "Space Race", she was so eager to get back into Space that she almost got herself and Steven Killed. In "Rose's Scabbard", She breaks down and lashes out at everyone when she finds out that Rose didn't confide in her with all of her secrets. In "Sworn to the Sword", she tries to instill within Connie the dangerously self destructive mentality of sacrificing herself for Steven as Pearl did for Rose. The thing about that is, Pearl can regenerate from server injuries. Connie wouldn't be so lucky.

Square mom is VERY upset with bird mom.

If there was any doubt to how Pearl felt about Rose, all of it was removed in "We Need to Talk." As Pearl and Greg sing their duet, Pearl is standing off to the side, brewing more salt than the biggest salt factory. Out of pure jealousy, she Fuses with Rose and has eyes of smugness staring at Greg the whole time. That isn't the end of it, though. She straight up tells Greg that the only reason Rose sees anything in him is because she's human and that Rose will eventually grow tired of him. This right here is what set a lot of the fandom off. You had fans saying that they hated her and that she was awful. Awful for what? For feeling a human a emotion that all of us have felt numerous times in our life? Pearl may not have the highest opinion of humanity, but she's much more like the species than she may ever admit. Not only did Pearl feel jealous, she acted on it. Again, something we've all done. Yes, she's came off incredibly salty in doing so but the way she was feeling was perfectly natural. I think a lot of the venom she got from fans was pretty unwarranted.

Steven Bomb 3 has been a roller coaster ride for many a Steven Universe fan. If we've learned anything from the last two Steven Bombs, its that they always start off with a Pearl episode and this one was no different. We finally get to see the fusion of Pearl and Garnet and as some fans guessed before the Comic Con 2015 reveal, they do indeed form Sardonyx. Pearl is so thrilled to fuse with Garnet that she sets up an event that causes the biggest rift between the Crystal Gems to date. When I heard this Steven Bomb was going to be dubbed Week of Sardonyx, I wasn't sure how the Crewneverse were going to go about it, but after watching "Cry For Help," that has been made abundantly clear.

Ruby and Sapphire may appear to have
the perfect relationship in the form of Garnet, but
even these two love birds still fight as an couple would.

Sardonyx may have only appeared in one episode but the actions Pearl took have lasting affects for the entire week. Repairing a communications hub that Peridot used to contact Yellow Diamond not only puts the Earth in grave danger but the only way the hub could be destroyed was by fusing and Pearl kept repairing the hub because it gave her a reason to fuse with Garnet. Given Garnet's views of fusion, its quite understandable that she's furious at Pearl for basically using her for her own ends.

Pearl's manipulation has made for some excellent drama this week. Since Pearl and Garnet aren't on good terns it spread like wildfire and has affected every member of the Crystal Gems. And since Garnet is made of two gems, of course Ruby and Sapphire are taking it hard as well. In contrast to their behavior in Jail Break where they really couldn't stand being separated, their argument has them spending hours apart. This was good for two reasons. One, we get to see Ruby and Sapphire again. Two, it shows that while they may appear to be the perfect couple, they fight just like every other couple under the sun. I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but it bears repeating. No body is perfect, not even our favorite red and blue moms.

After Cry For Help, the fandom has once again raised their pitch forks at Pearl. Its getting to be a knee jerk reaction to despise a character that does some extreme wrong in this show. Even Amethyst caught hate when she transformed into Rose in front of Greg during an argument in "Maximum Capacity." Yes, if was a very line-crossing thing to do. Good people or people with good intentions make mistakes. Pearl royally screwed up this week. No ifs ands or buts about it. How many friends do you have that have did you wrong? Now I realize that depending on the severity of the mistake and a person's capacity for forgiveness all factors in to whether they can move past whatever bad blood went down between those people.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said " I've decided to stick with Love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." Pearl has made some pretty notable goofs of the course of the series thus far. But nothing she's done has made me hate her. Not even her actions in Cry For Help. Maybe its a bit scary that I've become so invested in the fictional characters of this show that I adore them almost on the same level that I do my family and friends. People screw up. You, me, everyone. Sometimes we screw up big time like Pearl did this week. I'm not saying what she did was right because it was wrong on every single level, but  I honestly don't believe she should be hated for it. Pearl has some serious issues that she really needs to work out and I cannot wait to see the day where she's a better gem for it, but until then, I really think the fandom needs to stop hating her every single time she messes up.

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