Because fans should be critical, too

All Work and No Feedback Makes Turner a Dull Boy

It’s been almost six months since I started this blog of Avatar: the Last Airbender episode reviews. Since then, my monthly viewership has steadily risen, the number of comments received is no longer in the single digits, and I have three followers. By Internet standards, this is surely meager, but I’m happy to have gotten this far.

What I’m not happy about is how little feedback I’ve gotten on this project. I honestly don’t know if what I’m doing is any good at all. The few positive remarks I’ve gotten have been more praise for the idea of the blog and not necessarily the contents. The few negative remarks I’ve gotten all come from the same source, making their validity questionable.

It especially hurts since I established this blog to be open for discussion, because I knew there would be some disagreement with my views on Avatar. Not only do my views remain stagnant (not that’s anything wrong with a different opinion, but what if it’s misinformed?), but so do the reviews. Either: 1) people have chosen to respond to my reviews by not responding at all, as if I were some troll; 2) my reviews aren’t remarkable enough to warrant a genuine reaction; or 3) despite the high total viewership, this site simply hasn’t been viewed by that many people.

One of my friends suggested I do advertising for this blog, but I don’t know: it seems rather silly to advertise something as exclusive as reviews of one specific television series, no matter how popular it is. (Maybe when I extend my reach to music reviews—the next frontier—advertising might be an option.)

Until then, I’ll just have to trust the statistics, which is never a good idea, as Pauline Kael once explained about movie attendances:

The lines (and the grosses) tell us only that people are going to the movies—not that they’re having a good time.

So for those people who have visited this site, please let me know now: are you having a good time?

P.S. That Pauline Kael article, entitled Why Are Movies So Bad? Or, The Numbers, is well worth a read of its own.

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18 responses

  1. SpiderHyphenMan

    I like your blog, even if I don’t always agree with what you say. It’s always interesting to see an intelligently argued perspective that I disagree with, especially if it’s something I’m passionate about, and I am very passionate about Avatar. Your analysis of The Beach was particularly interesting, seeing as how I thought I’d heard everything under the sun that could be said about that episode. One thing I really disagree with is your constant “emasculation of Sokka” theme, which I feel is poorly founded, seeing as how one of the greatest strengths of this show is showing that the traits we identify as “masculine” are not limited to men alone. The idea that there’s something Freudian behind Sokka getting a sword reeks of amateur psychology 101, seeing as how the episode goes at great lengths to talk about the sword as a tool for much more than just asserting dominance. I got linked to your blog right before you finished Season 2, and I certainly have enjoyed reading your analysis. It’s just that sometimes you see things that aren’t there, and other times you miss things that are there. In my opinion.

    May 17, 2012 at 4:25 pm

  2. NM

    Don’t despair, Turner! Your reviews are great and oftentimes in sync with what most fans think of the series. Your bias towards is a bit off-putting to me sometimes, but that’s to be expected; he was a singly brilliant character throughout the first season for me. I still do enjoy your blog, though. If you don’t mind, I could share the link to your blog over on another page that I admin for The Legend of Korra. I have a good number of followers there (and more argumentative ones). Please keep at it!

    May 17, 2012 at 10:50 pm

    • NM

      Ah, sorry. I meant to put “boas towards Zuko” in there.

      May 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm

      • Don’t worry. I know what you mint.

        By all means, share the link! I’d also like to see this page you admin.

        May 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

  3. Boris

    Hey, just wanted to let you know I read and if it means much to you I will try and respond. I am the kind of person that loves to read and gather knowledge, but won’t always spew it back. But if it’s healthy debate your looking for I’ll see where I can chime in.

    May 17, 2012 at 11:17 pm

  4. Merro

    Hey! I’ve only posted once, but I just wanted to say that I very much enjoy reading your reviews. Your site is bookmarked and everything, and I tend to check every day even though I -know- it’s generally updated on a three day basis. But I’ve always been less of a “sayer” and more of a reader, I suppose. I love reading your thoughts and opinions, and while I may quirk an eyebrow and go “really?”, I never really have much to talk about. It’s not something I generally do, but I’ll see if I can’t pick up a little more to say, even if it’s not me being argumentative (which I’m always bad at). I look forward to seeing what more you write!

    May 18, 2012 at 12:45 am

  5. Eugene

    Hi. Random reader here. Just want to say that I’ve enjoyed reading some of your reviews. Actually, I’ve read most of them. I suppose what I like about your posts is how you approach the show with an open mind. Typically most bloggers are either fans or haters, so this review site is refreshing in that sense.

    Perhaps I haven’t read enough Avatar reviews, but I wish you’d go into a little bit more depth… how should I put it.. I’d like to read something that makes me think and question. A lot of your reviews contain opinion (I like vs. I dislike), but they don’t always reveal much insight. I liked your Korra review because you pointed out the importance of having characters that are, first and foremost, interesting. But otherwise it seemed somewhat empty. There wasn’t any commentary on what I thought were some of the most significant shifts in the series, like the completely different style of writing (Last Airbender now feels like “Aladdin” cartoon series by comparison) or the 2000 year technology leap within a 70 year span. The change in animation style and quality. Or the radically different character behavior (for both major, minor, and extras), which is much more natural than Last Airbender’s exaggerated. Not to say whether the changes are positive or negative, but I expected some kind of commentary there.

    In any case, hope you continue to write! I’ll be reading. I’m interested on your opinion of The Day of Black Sun.

    May 18, 2012 at 1:23 am

    • Eugene, you may have just given me the greatest advice I could get right now, and you gave it in a respectful and NOT dehumanizing way. Now I know what to focus on next. Thank you so much!

      Also, there WILL be commentary on such subjects as you mentioned, but not in the episode reviews; those such things will have articles of their own. I definitely want to discuss the animation at some point.

      May 20, 2012 at 11:35 am

  6. Eugene

    Sounds great. I look forward to more reading!

    May 20, 2012 at 2:47 pm

  7. takethecake

    to be honest with you, i think people are intimidated by your writing and your critical thinking skills. in terms of breaking down a story and saying “this is why it works”, etc, you’re very insightful. what’s there to give to the conversation?–not a lot of ppl are up to it, which is sad, but the state of the internet is mostly “i don’t want to think”. I LOVE YOUR REVIEWS and will definitely follow this blog to the end, and here’s why: I want to write fiction and insight on how and why fiction is affecting or where it fails (no bullshit)–well, i find that sort of thing invaluable.(I find this especially true when you refer to other works, and how avatar takes inspiration from it.)

    also, i think u don’t leave urself open to trolling, because your sensible, and this is not typically of acritical fandom. So far, i know this is all praise, but i can’t think of anything i’d like to change…i’m probably not as good at this critiquing thing as i’d like to be 😛

    June 1, 2012 at 12:04 pm

  8. Alan

    I really like your reviews although I don’t agree with your stance on some things in Korra. I’ve just discovered you about a week ago and have been actively reading everyday trying to get everything. I think people don’t post often cause of the details to fill in. People r lazy including me. But reading this, I’ll try to give feedback.

    July 2, 2012 at 11:13 pm

  9. Chris

    I’ve also wondered, why there’s not such a long discussion following your interesting reviews that I find great! For my part (and I think, this is true for many others), I don’t know, where to start, because there’s so much to say. Then again, I’d just like to add one remark, but it would look meager in comparison to your text, and I wonder, whether I’d do justice to your work and whether it comes across as silly.

    September 15, 2012 at 1:58 pm

  10. Chris

    P.S.: Anyway, keep going! I’m glad that I’ve found a place, where I can read more profound thoughts about Avatar than on youtube.

    September 15, 2012 at 2:00 pm

  11. Jennie Van Dyke

    Love your reviews, Problem is, i tend to agree (possibly too much) with everything you’ve said so far. Been just too lazy to write back, Nicktoons has been kind enough to constantly re-broadcast these shows, i keep watching them over and over and over…
    hope to get my act together and post any thoughts soon…is that really an IBM selectric typewriter in front of you?

    November 27, 2012 at 12:44 am

    • Um…that is an IBM electric typewriter, but that’s not me it’s in front of. That’s Nicolas Cage as Charlie Kaufman in the film Adaptation. I just found the image wonderfully appropriate.

      I’m happy that you enjoy the reviews! That you have told me so (as well as your comment about “forums” from earlier) is enough for me!

      December 17, 2012 at 7:10 pm

  12. Gabriel

    Well, I guess I’m late, but I feel that I have to say something here. I found your site some months ago and I read almost all your reviews in a few days. I really enjoyed because your reviews made me see some deep points about Avatar, a series that really deserves my attention as one of the greatest TV programs that I’ve watched.
    I don’t like to say that I’m a fan because fans are usually emotive (or blind) about their favorite series, artists and movies, and I like to be neutral, which allows me to see clearly the good and bad points about something.
    Some series (like Avatar) make me say “Wow, that’s awesome!” for different reasons, but I don’t have problems when I have to say something bad about it, even if I really like it. And you’re just like this. You watch, you think, you write. And you develop your thoughts and opinions in a way that makes me a little envy, honestly.
    One of my objectives is learn to write like this, and somethimes I look for some intelligent and inspirational content on the Internet. It’s really useful, even if it’s about a cartoon (it’s a valid theme, don’t you think?), even if it’s not in my native language (which is Portuguese).
    I think you’re doing great here. You present your points, your opinion, then you explain why you thought this and I feel free to agree or disagree. But to be able to agree or disagree, I have to think about things that I remember but didn’t give importance or didn’t understand when I watched the series without pay attention as much as I would now. Things that I didn’t noticed.
    And after analyze Avatar (which is something worthwhile to think about specially when you are able to understand it better), I started to think more about other subjects, including some important things around me and my the society.
    Lastly, read such awesome texts just helps me to improve my English. Thank you and sorry for not commenting, I don’t feel safe enough in English to discuss here, not yet.
    Sorry for possible grammatical errors and keep posting, we need these interesting blogs on the Internet.

    June 15, 2013 at 8:38 pm

  13. hoggersying

    I’ve arrived even later than poster “Gabriel” above, but just wanted to say, I’m really glad I found this trove of reviews (which I discovered via the Great Internetz after getting too impatient while waiting for Doug Walker to post his vlogs). I don’t always agree with your thoughts on the episodes (and have yet to read through them all) but I definitely appreciate the analysis and arguments. For starters, your review of “The Southern Raiders” has bumped that episode way up in my internal list of ATLA episodes . . .

    Do you mind if I share your blog with the A:TLA subreddit?

    June 25, 2013 at 10:52 pm

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