Major spoiler alert for the upcoming series Avatar: The Legend of Korra.
Today I watched two episodes of Korra, and oh my god, I was so impressed. The graphics are gorgeous, but more importantly, the cast of characters is incredible.
Korra is, in a word, impressive. Unlike Aang, who we saw grow up over the series both as a bender and emotionally, the new Avatar is in her teen years and is learning her final element. This show is originally intended for children, so it is really important that she be a strong role model.
I also see this as a big learning opportunity for audiences, because the fight this season is not as simple as good and evil. The Legend of Korra is much more complex. This season is about social privilege and ignorance. Korra, having grown up isolated from non-benders and their status as second-class citizens, is entirely ignorant of the reason for the Equalizers revolution. In fact, when I was watching the scene with the Equalizer protest, I had to laugh at Korra for her retort and her reasoning against the demonstrators. The commentary that the protest organizer was making, that the obvious reason for her love of bending is because she is a bender herself was so apt.
Korra’s development and education regarding the Equalizers claim is surely going to be a major component of the series. She just got to Republic City, and if she intends to bring balance to the world, she needs to understand the conflict. In doing so, she will be forced to confront her own privilege and higher social status. How she deals with that is my concern, as a woman of color, feminist, and fan of the show. Her personality signals to me that it will take awhile for her to accept her privilege and duties, but that once she does understand, she’s going to have some major guilt about it. She might even stop using her bending altogether for awhile, before she realizes that she can be privileged but use her platform as the avatar to advocate equal rights and speak with Equalizers.
What makes her ignorance easier to stomach is that she’s so well-meaning. It’s pretty obvious she wants to help the world and fulfill her obligations as avatar. But in her efforts, she will (like many privileged whites) need to check herself before she speaks.
The creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender birthed one of my favorite animated series with their 3-dimensional lead characters, humor, and plot. I have faith that they’ll approach social privilege in Avatar-universe from an enlightened angle. I cannot wait for the official airing of The Legend of Korra.