I honestly thought (read: hoped) that re-watching the entirety of Book One of The Legend of Korra would ultimately be beneficial. I gave the series a pure, unbiased second chance, looking for answers to pestering questions, redeeming qualities, and basically just a rebuttal to the notion that the finale ruined the series. Or, if the plot and characters were not going to grab me, that the series was still visionary and entertaining enough as a whole to make up for its narrative weaknesses, much like Akira, that revolutionary feature-length anime that also had poor writing and characters.
What I was not expecting to conclude after all of this was that, not only was Korra much worse than I remembered, but it was never even that good to begin with. It’s honestly mind-boggling just how much creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko fucked up their own story. This is probably the worst follow up project I’ve ever seen since Seinfeld co-creator Larry David followed up the finale of that brilliant show with his horrendous directorial debut, Sour Grapes.
Argh. With the video review in the works, I can’t really elaborate just how intricately bad this series is on this post. But I can say this: the finale didn’t ruin the series. The series ruined itself, and the finale was merely the final straw.
There has been a controversy recently regarding The Legend of Korra‘s nomination by the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) for the Image Award of “Outstanding Children’s Program.”
If I what I’ve read is true, then most of the conflict stems from the fact that Korra, while featuring minorities in the starring roles, is the creation of Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, two white men (one of whom allegedly has Native American ancestors, making him whiter than most people) and that most of the people who worked on the show were white. This might have been a valid argument if the show were a racist piece of shit, but it’s certainly not racist. So who cares if the creators are white? It doesn’t dim the show’s social and cultural impact one bit, because when kids look up at their television screens and/or computer monitors, all they see is a strong black woman. And while, technically speaking, the main protagonist Korra is actually none of those things (sans the woman part, obviously), beggars can’t be choosers.
Besides, there’s no reason Korra shouldn’t have been nominated and/or considered. It fits all the criteria necessary:
It Stars People of Color
The term “people of color” is a little vague. As far as I’ve gathered, the term basically encompasses all minorities, or at least anyone who is not white in the traditional sense (read: American Caucasian). Korra, like it’s predecessor Avatar: the Last Airbender, takes place in an alternative universe based exclusively on Asian culture, thus making everyone in this universe a “person of color.”
Notice, if you will, that the conflict in Korra revolves around class and not race. Generally speaking, there is no racism in the Avatar universe. The ability to Bend, the true source of conflict, is more akin to a handicap than anything else, and discrimination based on handicaps is not racism. It’s not as if African American midgets are any less black than standard-sized African Americans (though sometimes the taller African Americans are considered blacker).
So the NAACP clearly made a wise choice in nominating Korra, a show that demonstrates that only in a world without white people can colored people truly advance. And here I was thinking this show had no politics!
It is Outstanding
People often mistakenly assuming that “outstanding” is synonymous with “good.” When taken at face value, the word simply describes something that “stands out” (or, more specifically, “is in the progress/in a constant state of standing out”). In this climate of mindless and cynical kid’s shows, something as sincere and potent as Korra can’t help but stand out. (It also helps that, as mentioned earlier, there are no white people.)
Now some would say that Korra doesn’t resolve its main conflict in a satisfying. Since when is art supposed to resolve anything? Artists like DiMartino and Konietzko are only meant to reveal the problem, not offer solutions. In that sense, they’re like Ham, there point out the troubles of our time, so that we the audience, like Shem and Japheth, can take care of the problem ourselves without having to look it straight in the face like these two brave men have. God bless them!
It is a Children’s Program
This one is self-explanatory. It is a Nickelodeon product, after all.
As you can see, there is absolutely nothing wrong with Korra being nominated. This isn’t the Oscars, which we all know is run by self-congratulatory old men. This is the NAACP Image Awards, an organization that actually recognizes and celebrates the artistic achievements and advances of colored people featured in such classics as Sister Act. If George Lucas, the esteemed director of the Star Wars prequels, can be awarded by the NAACP, why can’t DiMartino and Konietzko? It’s only Image anyway, right?
…I’m going to attempt to also spend as much time getting my normal Avatar: the Last Airbender reviews done (the ones that need revision, anyway). Unfortunately, I can’t promise they’ll appear anytime soon, especially with my free time being so sparse again and my main efforts now devoted to this Legend of Korra review. I’ll try to make sure each update isn’t so empty as this one, though. Please bear with me a little longer.
– Marshall Turner