8 Times Internet Fandom Crossed The Line With Creators and Actors
1Lauren Zuke and the Steven Universe Fandom
The recent incident with Lauren Zuke is what prompted me to write this article. Lauren Zuke is a storyboard artist and writer on the wonderful Steven Universe cartoon. She was highly accessible on Twitter and was even the one behind a very fun Twitter account from the point of view of the character Peridot (this character got a Twitter on the show, so it’s pretty metatextual and amusing).
Unfortunately, she got caught in the crossfire of ship wars. She first commented on them in her Twitter saying, “Don’t attack people for liking things, stop it. It’s just really exhausting. Watching young gay people fight other young gay people over a show is heartbreaking. I hope you can see that we are trying to create something that will reach many different people, not separate them. And that’s my personal opinion that won’t change anything, see ya!”
One of the biggest ship wars, and likely the one Lauren was commenting on, was the fight between those who shipped the characters Peridot and Lapis Lazuli and those who shipped Peridot and Amethyst. (“Lapidot” vs “Amedot” shippers, to shorten it.) She ended up getting personally dragged in when she worked on an episode that showed Lapis and Peridot had bonded and were having fun living together. Zuke had previously done a lot of art of the two characters together. Fans therefore accused her of “favoring” the Lapidot ship and even “queerbaiting.”
Lapis Lazuli (l) and Peridot (r)
“Queerbaiting” refers to when a gay relationship is teased in order to keep queer fans interested, but creators never actually deliver. To be clear, queerbaiting is not a term that should apply to shows that already have tons of queer representation, which Steven Universe has. It’s been groundbreaking in openly depicting relationships between feminine-presenting characters positively.
Queerbaiting is when characters are repeatedly put into intimate, sexy situations together but then the show will dismiss it and maintain the characters are still straight. It’s when characters are joked about as being gay by other characters or mistaken for gay incredibly often, only to have the characters vehemently deny it and never actually deliver on representation. It deliberately gets queer fans’ hopes up and then reduces queerness to a punchline. It happens in shows that have little-to-no gay characters.
It is NOT any depiction of a positive relationship between characters of the same gender. And it’s certainly not favoring one queer ship over another queer ship. It’s also not something to call a relationship that’s still developing. With Steven Universe’s track record, Peridot and Lapis may even enter a relationship, but it would be unrealistic for that to happen instantly. Especially considering Lapis is still recovering from an abusive relationship.
Also creators can’t “favor ships”. They are CREATORS, not shippers, it’s up to them what romance to write.
And of course, Lauren Zuke is a gay woman, so accusing her of queerbaiting or policing which gay relationships she likes is ridiculous.
So Lauren Zuke left Twitter, with this to say:
It makes me sad that a creator on one of the most inclusive shows on television was driven away by the same people who claim to want inclusiveness. This is not the way.
2Sean Murray and No Man's Sky Fandom
Earlier this year, both the creator and the writer of the video game No Man’s Sky reported getting death threats over a simple two month delay in releasing the game. Creator Sean Murray said that “Hello Games looks like the house from Home Alone now” in response. Even the guy who wrote the Kotaku article reporting the game’s delay received threats.