tumblr is a wonderful and toxic environment full of great and terrible people who make me feel perfect and useless
omniblades are cool because you’re basically stabbing someone in the chest with your computer at the same time
I finally realized why I am not enjoying this show as much as I wanted to
When I started watching A:TLA, especially season 2 and 3 with both Toph and Katara, I really enjoyed the way that they were allowed to have disagreements and become friends independent of being romantic rivals. Women in television shows are so often pitted against each other, not allowed to like each other, and most of the time it’s because they’re interested in the same man. A:TLA was really unique in that it didn’t feature only girls being friends, it features girls getting into fights and yelling at each other and not getting along and making up and supporting each other, and none of it was about a boy.
I like Legend of Korra, but the interactions between Korra and Asami are almost exclusively centered around Mako. And when they’re not, there’s very little substance to them. I feel like we’re being told that Korra and Asami are friends (like in that episode where they go out racing) instead of being shown that. Contrast one of my favorite A:TLA episodes, The Runaway, where we actually see Katara and Toph disagree, and then work together and become even closer. We don’t have to be told that they’re friends. Katara didn’t need to say “I like Toph,” at the end of that, because we already knew she liked Toph.
I loved A:TLA because they completely bypassed that “girls must be romantic rivals
and hate each other”, and I was really excited for LoK because I thought it would do the same thing. Instead, it’s relying on that tired old trope more than ever, and I am….bored of it. Bored, and annoyed.
[Spoilers for the latest episode]
For so long I made excuses for LoK — but last two episodes I haven’t been able to defend them, even to myself. And yes, at the bolded — Pema and Lin’s arcs are around Tenzin, and in the last episode Jinora yelling at the Lieutenant ”Get away from my dad’s ex-girlfriend” kind of broke that spell for me. HER NAME IS LIN. She is a lot more than just Tenzin’s ex, but in the end that’s how we see her arc. Pema and Lin are adult and grown up around each other, and yet they’ve never had a single interaction that didn’t involve Tenzin.
Yes, to everything about Korra and Asami — like you said, there’s a lot of lip-service paid to the anti-sexism that is a huge part of A:TLA*, as if we should expect to see it, but then the show fails to deliver. Just marveling at how much work the staff writers made into making this world we grew to love so much. In a strange way, feel almost betrayed that LoK doesn’t hold up to those expectations.
*It’s not perfect when you look at the dead/absent mothers, Azula never getting a chance to redeem herself etc.
I found “get away from my dad’s ex-girlfriend” a REALLY interesting line, which is why I was so miffed about Pema’s attitude towards Lin. It’s not a necessary line, just there to signal the arrival of the kids on the scene in a dramatic fashion. But it’s interesting to me because it also signifies that the children understand the other connection between Lin and Tenzin besides “work colleagues”, which arguably is a much more personal (if tense) connection than “just old friends” (in the Western mindset anyway, because gosh, the running narratives in so many Western stories to privilege the person you’re “in love with”—and presumably fucking—over your actual long-time friends is so deep, it’s in legal systems).
But yeah, if these women had been given more depth, especially Pema, and if they had interactions beyond “wife vs. ex” (and in Korra/Asami, more interactions beyond “girlfriend vs. One Twu Wuv”), such lines wouldn’t have such effects of flattening the characters, and in Asami’s case, “I like Korra” sounds so defensive as a result, because we don’t see her actually liking Korra beyond being her nice self.
It’s also deeply problematic the ways in which the male characters’ lives get centered in episodes that, basically, should be about either the plot or Korra.
- Korra is kidnapped? Time to show Mako being a dick to everyone because HE cares.
- City is under attack? Time to show Tenzin’s responsibilities and issues as a family man and juggling between Lin and Pema, because… …I guess the Avatar, the most important character of the series, couldn’t have a more interesting story as the city falls?!?
And of course, what happens when Korra’s emotions get dealt with? Via men:
- Korra realizes she’s deeply afraid? Falls crying into Tenzin’s arms
- Korra has a positive emotion that isn’t bluster? Love triangle!
- Korra gets introspective? It’s because she’s forced into a metal box by Tarrlok and all about what Aang did.
There’s no point at which Korra’s emotions matter that isn’t resolved or addressed through men - no flashbacks to lessons from Katara, unlike Aang where we got to learn about Monk Gyazo, or have full conversations with Roku.
And the people who keep defending ATLOK, point to Toph or Katara (even Azula, as problematic as her story arc is, has more development) - we can’t keep giving passes on the past show - we’re 10 episodes in, that’s more than enough time to find your footing. (Compare to ATLA - by then Katara had already dealt with - trying to start a revolution, reclaiming her waterbending heritage through flexible morals, a romance with an abusive boyfriend, and met the Warriors of Kyoshi…)
People need to remember that tv, movies, etc. are not written literally by 1-2 people- they’re written by a team who get into the details of the scene to scene issues and the dialogue. And my guess is the that whoever were the advocates who knew how to write women? They’re not here for this go around. The writing is extremely disjointed, the characters are nowhere nearly as developed, and it shows.