It seems in recent years as though a dam has broken and the notion of what is “acceptable content” for a kids or YA show thankfully now has an ever-increasing flow of support. While themes of inclusivity and equality have been a staple of the genre since the early days of Children’s Television Workshop, recent examples like Steven Universe have dealt with gender identity and sexuality in ways that would likely have been vetoed by the networks even a decade ago. One show that, in many ways at least, was at the forefront of that charge is Adventure Time. While by no means perfect, it gives us numerous examples of gender equality and represents a fairly wide range of gender, sexual, and romantic identities that fall outside the heteronormative narratives that many of the genre’s examples, even the best ones, have traditionally retold ad nauseum.
Grab your friends, we’re going to very distant lands. (screengrab from Adventure Time)
While Adventure Time does this in numerous ways and through numerous characters, there is one example that is among the most direct and the most enduringly popular: Fionna and Cake. In looking not only at these characters specifically, but also more broadly at what they show us about the Ice King and toxic masculinity, we can see one of the best examples of these themes being presented in subtle and complex ways that are accessible to the target age group and, ultimately, further that tradition of inclusiveness.
The recently concluded arc of Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, “The Smartest There Is”, opened on nine-year-old protagonist Lunella Lafayette learning that, thanks to her results on a test created by Bruce Banner, she is the smartest person. Not the smartest kid, or the smartest girl, or the smartest human, or the smartest being on Earth; she’s flat out “the smartest there is”, hence the name of the arc. The other people on the list (mostly adult men) are a bit salty about a little Black girl from the Lower East Side stealing their thunder, but none more so than one Victor Von Doom.
Doom sends robots to attack Lunella, and they’re unlike anything she’s fought before. Namely, they’re powered by Doom’s magic rather than by some kind of quantifiable science. So what does the smartest there is do when faced with something that defies scientific understanding? Attempt to explain it scientifically anyway.
Let’s face it, 2016 was tough, and 2017 doesn’t look to be much easier. So let’s delve into some of our favorite geeky romantic pairings to help us cope! Yep, it’s Valentine’s Day, that sickeningly sweet holiday when our authors nominate and then vote on ships for our Top 20 Romantic Couples in Geekdom (10 Canon/10 Fanon) list. It is now my duty to present to you the super cute and sexy ships of 2017!
Representation is weird, readers. Since some people that enjoy a level of privilege alsocontend with marginalization, it’s difficult to say where we need to get better in our media. Despite men enjoying incredible amounts of privilege, we still have the task of dismantling toxic masculinity. While we are slowly but surely destroying the “no homo, bro” narrative of friendship, I would like to see more well formed male friendships in media that actually explore friendship and aren’t just used as passive plot traits.
Last week, I purchased the trade paperback collection of the Marceline Gone Adrift comic series. In the vein of previous Adventure Time Presents series like Fionna and Cake and Marceline and the Scream Queens, Gone Adrift is a six-issue story with a finite beginning and end. I missed the first few issues of it when it was coming out, so when I saw it was finally out as a trade I immediately snatched it up. And while part of me enjoyed it, I was left in the long run wondering why I’m still so invested in a relationship that’s constantly hinted at and doesn’t look, at this point, like it will ever be canon.
For much the same reasons as Moe explained earlier this summer, I have kind of grown away from Adventure Time. While an eleven minute episode once a week isn’t a huge time commitment, I felt that the show had lost its idea of who its audience was and had abandoned the latter half of its “here’s a weird premise with a good message” mentality for utter absurdism and often unpleasant conclusions. Also, I’m still pissed that Finn’s arm grew back.
Because of this, I didn’t know about the Stakes miniseries, which comprises several episodes out of the still-ongoing Season 7, until after it had finished airing. Thankfully, a Bubbline blog that I still follow on Tumblr reblogged a rash of posts about it, or I’d still be in the dark. I began watching it out of loyalty to Marceline more than anything—she’s always been my favorite character—but I finished it unexpectedly excited to see what will happen next in the Land of Ooo.
Spoilers through the end of Stakes after the jump.
If there’s one thing Tumblr (or at least the people I follow) is obsessed with, it’s making fun of the deeply ingrained heteronormativity that people force on their children from a young age. I’m sure that at some point in your life you’ve heard someone refer to a male two year old as a future ladies’ man for smiling at his female babysitter, or another female two year old close by, or some similar nonsense. This is so problematic because it teaches children from before the time they can form words that boys are supposed to marry girls, girls are supposed to marry boys, and that’s all there is to gender and romance.