Monday, December 29, 2014

Legend of Korra: Let’s Be Honest …

It too me a week to fully digest and compose some thoughts on the finale of the highly praised animated series, The Legend of Korra, and I have to say … is just WAY overrated. It’s not that the 4 Books of Korra didn’t have their fun characters, well-crafted elements, story arcs, and pivotal moments, but Korra sadly falls into that realm of “filling a void” … “Something we want so desperately to be EXCELLENT … when it’s not.

Now I liked The Legend of Korra. It was good, but it was just a “B” … a “B+” at its very best. Book 3 – Change was the strongest and most interesting. Varrick was by far my favorite character throughout the run. He & Zhu Li stole every scene they were in. Tenzin and his family as Aang’s legacy, were also phenomenal. 
The series as whole, however, doesn’t match up to The Last Airbender, and Korra, the titular character, was a whole bunch of blah. On the surface she was self-centered and self-righteous. And underneath that, she was a bore. What was there to actually LIKE about Korra? She was “tough”? She was “strong”? So was basically everybody. Although the Korra saga had its glimmers of brilliance with the small stuff – (i.e. – Two Toed Ping revealing the source of his nickname – ha!), it pales in comparison to the Aang saga as far as depth and actual character development.

I could point-counterpoint all day with where Korra is lacking as compared to the previous Avatar series and it’s multiple missed opportunities to really prove itself, but the main issue I have contention with is the big “reveal” at the very end (here comes the spoiler if you haven’t seen it yet …)  Korra and Asami embrace a same sex relationship with one another. While many have commended this on behalf of the LGBT community (of which I’m a full supporter, so please don’t misconstrue my criticism of this show in any way that suggests otherwise), I refer to my initial point of people "wanting so badly for this kind of meaningful statement to be present" that they end up giving undue praise to a show like Legend of Korra that soft-balled it, played it safe, and didn’t break ANY real ground … Yet is currently reaping accolades for being “progressive”. Well, I say – Bull. And my reasoning is as follows:

1) It set a poor precedent – There’s an obnoxious kinda double-edged sword where if women ‘embrace the generalized contemporary standard of femininity or sexuality’ then in many cases they aren’t taken as seriously, deemed 'capable', or afforded the same amount of respect as a man, particularly in an authoritarian capacity. They are too easily portrayed as 'weak'. However, if they are “TOO authoritative”, or “bossy”, or “strong” in attitude, behavior, or appearance, they are billed as “masculine” or “un-feminine”. Many “jokes” and stereotypes in regard to female athletes, “strong women”, reside around their sexuality. As if a woman is powerful, then it automatically denotes that there is no place for a man in her life. 

Korra, for all her faults, is the embodiment of a positive female role model. Strong and capable. Asami was as well ... And both of them had boyfriends without it defining them. (sure it was the same guy, but that's beside the point) Both women had been portrayed as heterosexual from the start of the series. (It wasn’t till the 4th book that they really started dropping heavy hints at the 2 of them coupling) So what does that say when the creators decide to flip the script at the very end and put them together? A woman CAN’T be strong and tough WITHOUT her sexuality being debatable or a focal point? ... Two women CAN’T have a close, deeply bonded friendship WITHOUT it being romantic? ... I don't agree to that! ... And that may not be what Legend of Korra is saying outright … But its not NOT saying that either …

2) Simpsons did it! – Some people have actually praised Korra for being “the first animated TV series to feature a prominent lesbian character” … False on that as well. Does the name Patty Bouvier ring a bell? Well it should. Marge Simpson’s sister, a staple character since the very first full-length Simpsons episode, has had multiple stories that involved her being a lesbian. Legend of Korra ISN’T breaking any ground cuz its not the first animated show to go there. … Unless they want to talk about how they dared to do so on “Nicktoons” – a network aimed primarily at children? … Well that brings me to my 3rd and final point …

3) Korra just spiked the ball and ran – If The Legend of Korra really wanted to be progressive and do something meaningful, it would have actually TOLD the story of Korra and Asami’s relationship. It would have/ could have/ should have explored the two characters actually BEING together, alongside their friends, family, and the other characters in their world. (particularly Mako who dated both of them on and off throughout the show) But it didn’t do that

The show only acknowledged them as “together” in the final closing moments of the series ... A hollow gesture. There’s nothing “brave” about being controversial when you don’t have to pay for it ... When you don’t have to deal with any fallout or weather any ensuing storms because of it. Korra waited till the game was already over before pulling a slick little a “Hey! Watch what we can do!” … Leaving the creators to just relax, enjoy their kudos, their pats on the back, and be self-satisfied ... As if they’re so prolific … As if they actually DID something … As IF!

Yeah, no.  Korra will be missed as it was an entertaining show, continuing a story that we enjoyed to the fullest and still want more of, but the finale? It was nothing to be admired.

That my 2 cents. Keep the change!

Share on Facebook, click Follow or Join this Site! ... or get more insight and shenanigans on Twitter @DarkOcean

1 comment:

  1. Very well done review. I totally agree with everything you say. The first time I saw an episode of ATLAB I wasn't engaged right away, but once I gave it an opportunity I loved the series. It was fun, ground breaking and heart warming. Aang is one of the most amazing characters ever created, he was in deed a child (with ADD ;) ). One moment he was saving the world, another moment he was chasing a penguin.

    The climax of the series was epic and it didn't need any gimmicks to make it memorable cause it grew from the very first episode into the great ball of fire that it was.

    In the other hand ATLOK staerted a bit "rocky" for me. I feel that the creators wanted to make Korra such an strong character that they forgot to make her fun. She had some sparks but most of the time I was more engaged by the surrounding characters than by Korra. I gave the series a chance because of the amazing art that surrounded the story and the occasional reference to Aang and his friends. By the end of season 1 I thought Korra was evolving and that engaged me in season 2 plus I loved the whole arc about Avatar Wan and the origin of the avatars... then everything went downhill for me. Korra losing connection to previous avatars. She kept "devolving" even though she fought already some very fierce enemies like Vatu. It felt like the creators just went on to destroy what made Avatar fun.

    As the author of this review states, it doesn't bother me that they chose to close the series with a same sex relationship for Korra... but the question is... "was that really necessary"? For a show that continuously tried to show strong willed women they basically transformed Korra into a boy towards the end... so the message is that there cannot be strong women unless they are lesbian?

    One last thing that I notice, is that over the show they portrayed Aang as a difficult parent to please... REALLY??? Aang was fun and childish, and even he might had been a concerned parent, why making it a stern adult (his 3 children had parental issues)... That didn't make sense at all. Also that mumbo jumbo of Aang dying young because his body was encased in ICE was stupid. If they wanted to kill Aang at a young age they should just had him go down in some epic manner.

    ATLOK makes me thing that the creators of the Avatar got some personal thing against Aang for God knows what reason. Shyamalan did already a lot of damage.. why trying to destroy the Avatar legacy?