Cartoon Network is defending its decision to censor a scene of two woman dancing romantically from popular animated series Steven Universe.
It emerged this week that the network had made changes to an episode of the American animated series for its broadcast in the UK.
The episode features a romantic dance between two female characters – Pearl and Rose Quartz – during a musical number, but the UK broadcast instead featured close-ups of entirely different characters.
Despite an online petition calling for the network to reconsider the decision – given that opposite-sex kissing was not removed- Cartoon Network stood by the decision.
A statement to PinkNews said: “Cartoon Network (in Europe) often shows amended versions of programs from US originals.
“The US broadcast system requires that shows are marked with a rating –in this case PG (parental guidance necessary). In the UK we have to ensure everything on air is suitable for kids of any age at any time.
“We do feel that the slightly edited version is more comfortable for local kids and their parents.
“We have an ongoing dialogue with our audiences and our shows reflect their preferences. Research shows that UK kids often watch with younger siblings without parental supervision.
“Be assured that as a channel and network we celebrate diversity – evident across many of our shows and characters.”
However, the claim appears to be entirely inconsistent with the British ratings system – which explicitly allows kissing and cuddling in ‘U’ rated content.
The BBFC’s ‘Universal’ rating – which Cartoon Network aims for – says: “Characters may be seen kissing or cuddling and there may be references to sexual behaviour. However, there will be no overt focus on sexual behaviour, language or innuendo.”
Fans have raised concern about the network’s failure to take the criticism on board, given it doesn’t not take a similar approach to heterosexual romances regularly portrayed across both Steven Universe and other Cartoon Network shows.
A petition set up by anime fans says: “Steven Universe is a beloved series acclaimed for its groundbreaking portrayal of queer characters. I’ve heard many young people say it changed their lives.
“In the UK and Europe, CN UK have censored a romantic dance between two female characters, Pearl and Rose Quartz. Queer youngsters treasure and cling to this moment.
“The same episode (‘We Need to Talk’) has plenty of hereto dancing and kissing, so it looks like they’re censoring this because it’s two women.”
It adds: “Please ask CN UK to stop censoring queer content in ‘Steven Universe’, and to restore Pearl and Rose’s dance in future broadcasts in the UK and Europe.”
Watch the contested clip below. (The most obvious edit is at 1:55)
The original show has won praise for including a number of strong, female characters in a comparatively male-dominated genre, and for hinting at a number of same-sex relationships.
The show’s former producer previously confirmed that two of the show’s female characters were in a relationship, saying: “R & S are in a romantic relationship and I don’t believe any different.”
When asked whether it is fair to interpret the pair as “nonbinary femme presenting lesbians”, he responded: “By human standards & terminology that would be a fair assessment!”