I don’t know if you’ve heard, but there’s quite a controversy going on in the cartoon world. A controversy that has to do with a certain female cast member and her sexuality. I am, of course, talking about the lovely Marceline, the vampire queen from the Cartoon Network series, Adventure Time.
Earlier this week, the episode “What was Missing” was released and, holy shit, the internet exploded! If you don’t know about Adventure Time the show is essentially about a young boy named Finn who travels the land and does hero-y things with his best friend Jake (a dog). It’s cute and silly. And immensely popular, which is why the execs at CN have this potential conundrum on their hands in the first place. But, I digress.
The episode stars the baddie, the Doorlord, as he traverses Princess Bubblegum’s kingdom stealing treasured trinkets from everyone. However, as Finn, Jake, Bubblegum, and Marceline chase after him, the Doorlord locks himself behind a door that “shall yield to no command save for a song from a genuine band.” Well, sounds like a good excuse to have a rockin’ party, no?
Marceline, being the only member of the group to have actually been in a band, steps up as lead and starts to rock out only to have her lyrics chastised by Bubblegum as being “too vulgar”. The queen of the vampires takes this as a personal affront and sings out her annoyances to the princess. By the end of the song though, it becomes clear that Marceline doesn’t actually hate the princess. On the contrary, she seems rather fond of her. And by fond I mean it’s apparent that Marceline has a crush on Princess Bubblegum. Even without shipping goggles it is impossible to miss. And therein lies the conflict.
The crush is not spurned by anyone in the duration of the episode and by the end it seems as if Bubblegum, too, has some feelings for Marceline—though to what extent isn’t elaborated on, it is still an 11 minute kid’s show after all. The thought of a completely non-sensationalized lesbian relationship in a children’s cartoon is exciting and a sign of progress as far as I’m concerned but the executives at Frederator Studios (the ones who write for the show) do not share the same sentiments. As of after the airing, they are systematically trying to wipe out all signs of the existence of this episode because… well, I don’t really know.
Is it too flamboyant? No. Does it disrupt the story? No. Is it going to destroy the mind of a million tiny impressionable babies who will weep one lone tear at the loss of their innocence? No, I’m pretty sure if franchises like Spongebob and Johnny Test haven’t done that already, the youth of tomorrow will still grow into fine adults. I hate to say it, but the studio seems to be a little bit homophobic here. Not even just that, but perhaps a little misogynistic as well (a group of female characters having a relationship outside of the main male!? Blasphemy!).
From the writings of some source (not exactly a credible one, alas!) the Bubbline—as it is called by fans—pairing is indeed considered for canon according to an official vlog, but as of now that video has been made private. Although other writers working at Frederator have expressed un-fondness of the way the two girls have been portrayed is said vlog. However, the source material lives on! Watch it yourself and make your own conclusions. Me? I’m just gonna sit here and sing “I’m Just Your Problem” to myself for the rest of my life.
Also, there is an interesting commentary that I found linked from askthecomposer’s Tumblr here, discussing the implicit non-problems of non-heteronormative romance in childrens cartoons (of course, using Adventure Time as an example).
Edit: A statement from Frederator Studios reads, “We felt it was too sensational and implied things that are just not the intention of show’s creator or crew. We regret it’s caused such a stir.” I realize that this kind of direction in a children’s show will undoubtedly cause a stir, as they put it, but by removing it I feel as though they are just making it worse.