There’s a million things I could be talking about but I’m choosing to spare a few words to The Legend of Korra. A few things bother me about this show, beginning with how Korra is almost completely a hotheaded dudebro girl, like a sexist boy who is portrayed as super tough and powerful in a girl’s body. They even snuck in a princess trope: Korra’s father was supposed to be chief of the Northern Water Tribe which would’ve not only made her the Avatar but a princess as well. Perhaps arguably, Korra is constantly made into a damsel in distress, or rather yet another female character who needs to be saved or mentored by male characters, in addition to the fact that not even one episode into the first season she’s getting set up with male love interest AND A FREAKING LOVE QUADRANGLE (Mako-Bolin-Asami-Korra)–because the show couldn’t have possibly done without that, right? *rolls eyes* There’s very little that’s original about her character archetype for me right now.
I could talk about how Katara, Kya, Eska, and Beifong are basically downplayed and stereotyped, the casual sexism, how most of the villains so far are brown people from the Water Tribes and Earth Kingdom (all of whom appear to have been beyond redemption and dead now), the frequent use of ableist slurs and situations (sometimes actually used as ableist slurs or in casually ableist ways), and this obnoxious attempt at multiculturalism/mixed heritage theme that’s going on. No matter who’s in the wrong, there is a sea of apologies going on when maybe people do just need to butt heads. Let’s not forget how the show seems to be ladled in drama meant for viewers who are so privileged that they find the suffering of others to be entertainment and not a pause for thought and action. Another thing that’s totally bothering me–the title of the first episode of Season Three: “Rebirth of a Nation”. Reallly? I don’t think its a coincidence that its called that. Do the producers even know what Birth of a Nation is???
But what’s really getting to me right now is how none of the characters have actual character development. They are characters that seem only to carry and play out ideas that the producers think are cool and will get boys (and maybe girls and everybody else) to watch the show. I have yet to see any substantial character development. And the three year time skip, which is exaggerated as such a long amount of time in the latest episode, doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense to me because of the story’s lack of of focus on cohesive and unrushed, uncrammed character development.
The characters play roles to present perspectives, ideas. In Book of Air, Amon and Tarrlok are both victims of abuse who end up going down extreme paths, but both are villainous and of course they have to die to wrap up that bit of the show and end their “sad story”. Korra gets angry about Tenzin and her father trying to run her life, only to find out later in Book of Change (in the interest of the plot) that its to protect her from the Red Lotus, so their hiding things is justified. In Book of Spirits, Korra wants to go over the President’s head to help the Southern Water Tribe, what do the producers do? Put Mako in her way by having him suddenly become a Republic City police officer who snitches on her and then they use a greedy eccentric capitalist, Varrick, to justify the story by scripting that he was using everyone as pawns to start the war in the first place. While wise, infinitely skilled, and sharing a unique connection with the spirits, Unalaq is portrayed as a stick in the mud who seems to pointlessly desire to destroy the world by becoming a dark Avatar. In Book of Change, instead of having someone like Zaheer on the side of good, he is constantly referred to as a mad man bent on destroying the world by killing world leaders and inducing a state of chaos. Do I even want to know why such a badass metalbender like Kuvira is doing what she’s doing right now in Book of Balance? The producers are either attempting to create complex villains or making stuff up for want of a villain. “We need actors for “good cop, bad cop,” who do we have here?”, basically. I’m simply wondering how some of the choices of plot influencing character instead of character influencing plot were made. The characters are used as mere plot pawns, puppets, defying their established flow of character; their actions and thoughts are dictated by the plot using mere convenience but the plot’s dictates on the characters thoughts and actions don’t always make any sense and don’t flow well with how the character would likely behave. The plots themselves seem totally contrived and arbitrary.
I hope the producers of The Legend of Korra are getting around to a point that will help me feel like spending time watching this show wasn’t mostly a waste of time but I won’t hold my breath. That’s enough, I might come back to this topic later.