It doesn’t matter whether you thought it was creepy, far-fetched, ballsy, or plain cute: Olivia Olson, voice actress of Marceline on Adventure Time, recently confirmed details about Princess Bubblegum and the Vampire Queen that fans (and especially fan artists) have known for years. Aww.
So apparently, Olson wrote a now-deleted tweet recanting what she had said at the panel. On the one hand, you could perhaps say she was coerced into doing damage control after executives went nuts, or you can say that she made it all up and that such an occurrence isn’t unusual for a panel or signing, in which panelists generally screw around to a healthy degree. To which I’ll say these things: Tom Kenny didn’t sound like he was disagreeing with anything, the imagery and interaction between Marceline and Bubblegum are still there, the fan community is basically decided on the issue anyway, and the influences that the ‘ship (fictional or not) has had on other cartoons/comics aren’t going to evaporate. Also, many have pointed out correctly that the Marceline/Bubblegum ‘ship would be an instance of pansexuality, not homosexuality. My bad.
Olson recently attended a book signing at a Los Angeles Barnes and Nobles for her father (and voice actor for Marceline’s Dad, Hunson Abadeer) Martin Olson’s book The Adventure Time Encyclopaedia, along with Tom Kenny and other collaborators on the show and book. The clip below is short and juicy, and we don’t hear or even need to hear the question that Olson’s responding to:
If I may borrow a line from Amadeus: “Well, there it is.” Marceline and Princess Bubblegum had indeed dated in the past, which settles a controversy first sparked in Adventure Time‘s third season in the episode “What Was Missing,” in which Marcy, PB, and Finn must retrieve their personal valuables from a Door Lord, who sets out to teach them about friendship in the most invasive possible way. In the episode, not only is it revealed that PB’s most prized possession is a shirt from Marceline, but there’s a lingering sense that something had been edited out, judging from the unexplained familiarity and a referenced history between the two characters. After the airing, a recap uploaded by Studio Frederator itself hinted at the possible lesbian relationship, and the resulting controversy and fan explosion was visible from space. The recap was since pulled from their Youtube account, as executives felt it improper or otherwise unadvisable that the studio itself should expound such a theory.
But for an 50-some second video, it packs yet another punch. Olson states that their relationship hasn’t been explored in-depth on the show due to censorship issues in other countries regarding what they consider such sexually explicity material. The crowd gives a collective, disappointed ‘awww’ before Tom Kenny (bless his heart) borrows the Ice King’s voice to say “IT WAS ILLEGAL HERE TIL 2013 FOR GOD’S SAKE . . .” thus quashing any misguided sense of national superiority anyone might’ve had.
So you may be thinking ‘ok big deal there’s a cartoon that has a ex-lesbian couple that they can’t even talk about,’ to which there are many responses. For one thing, it’s basically canon. One doesn’t have to scroll far on a Google image search of either ‘Princess Bubblegum’ or ‘Marceline’ to find out just how ‘basically canon’ it is. And for another, even if the relationship is never directly referenced on the show, the imagery must still be quite heartening for the LGBT community. Most references to homosexuality in television and film are still the same cliche’d and borderline ignorant sniggers and portrayals that we’ve been getting since forever–what’s notable about Adventure Time‘s portrayal of such a relationship is how casual, hence NBD, hence real, hence discussible it is. In other words, homosexuality on Adventure Time looks like it came from a parallel media universe where such things aren’t controversial at all.
What’s even better is that Adventure Time has likely blazed a path for others to follow as well. For example, pick up a copy of Lumberjanes, BOOM! Studio’s acclaimed title about five girls at camp in a very strange forest, and you’ll see the same healthy, casual treatment of LGBT affection and subtext. I’m only two issues in so far and haven’t seen the development of the situation yet, but it’s definitely there, and the best part is that it’s not this giant thing that anyone needs to whisper about–it’s a crush like any other crush, and I think that’s a huge leap in terms of naturalizing it for the general public.