Because fans should be critical, too

My Blog is a Sperg (And Update on “Korra” Video Review)

Korra screenshot - 3 - 16

I’d never heard the term “sperg” until a few days ago when this entire blog was referred to as such. This was apparently a reaction to a factual error on my part regarding the minute technicalities of Energybending in Avatar: the Last Airbender‘s series finale.

In my review of the finale, I proposed that Energybending still worked as a concept, even if we the audience weren’t too well prepared to deal with its application in the narrative. But here’s the detail I got wrong: the Lion Turtle says Energybending occurred before the time of the Avatar however, was thinking that previous Avatars had attempted and failed (and died) trying to Energybend because they weren’t pure at heart.

This raises a few questions: 1) if previous Avatars have died trying to attempt this ability, then wouldn’t that mean the Avatar cycle has broken a few times? Sure, but admittedly the notion does devalue (or does it?) the sacredness of the Avatar cycle, reducing it to one of those “[blank] Days Without an Accident” signs; 2) if previous Avatars did attempt it, then how come none of Aang’s past lives even knows about its existence? Maybe they were hush-hush about it because they knew it was dangerous to the Avatar cycle, and by extention their prolonged spiritual existence. Without all that stored experienced, being the Avatar would be pretty difficult and alone; 3) if this were the case, then why would Korra be able to Energybend so effortlessly? This girl is, like, the most emotionally unstable Avatar ever, but she gives Lin Bei Fong her Bending back like it was nothing. Shouldn’t she have died and destroyed the Avatar cycle? It’s not like reaching your lowest point makes you a better person. Potentially, yes, but not definitely.

Now I’m rambling, so let me make my point: it was my mistake not to consult the transcript of the finale episodes to double check precisely what the Lion Turtle said about Energybending (especially considering he only has two brief scenes of monologue). After sitting through the finale, bored most of the time, exhilarated by my favorite parts, and then losing interest once they were over, I was bound to have missed a few things. For that I apologize.

All that said, does this corrected information on Energybending change my perception or emotional reaction to the material? Not at all. I still think it’s an effective climax, just as someone else will still think it’s a cop out. In both views, we can agree that the concept was poorly established, popping up merely moments before it was relevant. I can understand if creators DiMartino and Konietzko were trying to keep the twist a secret until the very end, but they didn’t play fair. Aside from hinting at the existence of Lion Turtles, the climax (and especially Energybending) wasn’t even slightly alluded to. However you feel about the climaxes of films like, say, Jaws or Fight Club, you can’t credit the filmmakers with cheating. The climax of Avatar‘s finale, on the other hand, has a flashback in the middle of the action to reveal that the Lion Turtle said a lot more than we heard the first time we saw him. That can be considered cheating.

Long story short: I made a mistake, I admit it, even if the error in question has no real effect on my view of the show.

As for the term “sperg,” I’m still not sure I know what it even means. My guess is that it’s simply another word tossed around by Internet forum barflies that means more to them than it does to anyone else. I suppose it’s used for someone who obsesses over minute and arbitrary details that normal people miss or don’t care about (read: like someone with Asperger’s Syndrome). But if that were the case, wouldn’t I not have missed this crucial detail about Energybending and Lion Turtles?

I don’t know. I don’t know much about what’s hip with the kids these days.

ANYWAY, I should inform you all that I’m currently hard at work on The Legend of Korra video review in which I obsess over minute and arbitrary details that normal people missed or don’t care about. While the release date of March 1st is hopefully set in stone, I still wish I could have seen the Korra DVD with the commentaries and the art book first. But the DVD won’t be out until May, and the art book until July. What if the DVD and the art book finally have the answers to questions that bugged me? What if the DVD contains a heap of deleted scenes that established important details, explained character motivation better, and overall made for a more complete story than could fit into a normal television time slot and twelve episodes? Then I’ll have made a series of videos complaining about nothing!

Aw, well…


8 responses

  1. fawndeer

    If you watch the commentaries, it will only make the show worse….

    February 10, 2013 at 12:30 am

  2. JMR

    Eh, in my opinion, “Word of God” type stuff like commentaries and art books are neat trivia, but they doesn’t excuse any flaws in the show itself or make criticism of it any more or less true. If it were that important that I know something in order to understand the story, that information should have been included in the story.

    February 11, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    • I agree, although I do love myself a good commentary. Sometimes they give you a new perspective on the film that can make it even better (e.g. David Fincher’s commentary for The Social Network is absolutely priceless). As for Korra, I’m mostly interested in hearing DiMartino and Konietzko and the cast elaborate on why they thought their creative choices (and especially that fucking ending) were acceptable. That would be insightful, too.

      February 12, 2013 at 1:38 am

  3. fawndeer

    Well, for one thing, one might consider why they thought their crappy romance was a good idea, because Bryke described themselves as “cornballs” who liked “cheesy teen romance.” They are into the kind of stuff from stupid high school melodramas, hence that ATLA chibi short “School Time Shipping.” It seems they love themselves cheesy, angsty teen crap like in the episode Jet and the whiny drama between Sokka and Yue who cried, “i can’t be with you.”

    February 12, 2013 at 10:18 am

  4. Grindal

    Finally Mark, in your mind if some of the unanswered questions or lose ends were tied up in Book 2 would it redeem Book 1. For example, what if a part of the story has to do with Republic City coming to term with what equality really means, or in fact, albeit it being a very small possibility, Korra can only bend all four elements while in the avatar state. If a few of these were answered Book 1 would feel much more complete in my mind.

    February 13, 2013 at 1:53 pm

    • I was going to wonder about the Mark thing…

      Anyway, if Book Two did somehow answer some things and wrap up loose ends, I might be willing to forgive Book One. I doubt it will happen, though. The ending so thoroughly killed any real interest I have in the show (aside from critical) that they’d be better off just not acknowledging Book One at all. If Korra is to become a sort of villain-of-the-week serial for kids, then so be it. I could be entertaining. It won’t be involving.

      February 14, 2013 at 11:35 pm

  5. Grindal

    Sorry I mean’t Marshall. Don’t how I wrote Mark.

    February 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

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