Soooooo....Bubblegum and Marceline dated? Did you read about that? Did I? Is it possibly true? Openly queer characters on a cartoon that is sort of for kids? So awesome!
This is a perfect example of writers who had all of the best intentions, but thanks to censorship and current policies, it devolved into some good old fashioned queerbaiting.
Indeed, it’s true that the original intention was to have PB and Marceline romantically involved, eventually. The people behind Adventure Time have said as much, but somewhere along the line, someone said, “whoa, whoa, whoa. Not in a children’s show!” So, the storyline got dropped and all that’s left is the occasional hint and a massive fallout of fan headcanons.
I know I should feel happier that the notion was even pitched, let alone nearly realized, but instead, I just feel cheated. Not only is it a very public example of queer characters still not being “acceptable” for children, it’s also another instance of characters’ “secret queerness” being paraded around as actual representation.
It’s not. That’s queerbaiting.
Harry Potter did it, Sherlock does it, Teen Wolf, Supernatural, Doctor Who, and countless others all use winking hints at queerness amongst their main characters without, y’know, actually having to make or show them as queer in any way.
(Pictured above: irony, but no actual queerness.)
As much as I love Adventure Time and will openly applaud them for touching on very mature and downright edgy topics, I just can’t muster any genuine enthusiasm for PB and Marceline’s “secret” and/or “past” relationship in the show. That benefits no one and only serves to tell the queer, impressionable kids watching that their identities still aren’t good enough for television.
Instead of getting excited for the scraps popular media tosses us now and then, let’s all hope for some real, visible, and open representation, one day. We have to start demanding it as consumers and generating it as creators. Queer folk deserve it.