Because fans should be critical, too

Part 4.5 of the Korranalysis is Up!

Is it a little weird that the video segment on the most controversial aspect of the series is the shortest thus far?

A few other things:

– I’m finally back at school, so I may be able to be more consistent with my work schedule.

– Sorry I didn’t get that video treat I promised done this weekend. I’m still working out the kinks in the lyrics.

– The next video segment will be on fanservice (and why it annoyed me more than the romance did).


19 responses

  1. JMR

    Yeah, the major thing to me that you mentioned is that the show want’s us to believe that these guys are the new “Team Avatar”. These people aren’t a “team”. They’re not even friends. They spend most of the time they’re on screen together antagonizing each other over romance bullshit. There isn’t the slightest shred of even platonic chemistry between them.

    August 25, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    • Exactly! No one needed to be hooked with/heartbroken by anyone. They could have all become friends at least. Hell, they could have all become better friends because the romance stuff failed and they realized how silly it all was.

      September 2, 2013 at 12:44 pm

  2. rosemon

    I wonder why you find Twilight’s romance to be more understandable? Anyway, I hated the romance in Korra, but then I find people gushing about how so much better the romance was in the original series. I disagree, as I’ve found that romance was always a weak point on ATLA, reducing the women to prizes for the male heroes to come home to. I never felt that Mai was very important to Zuko’s life. After she was imprisoned by Azula, Mai seemed to vanish from Zuko’s mind until she shows up in the finale. He doesn’t even seem to angst about it the way he angsts about his uncle in prison. Mai only seemed as a bland comforting shoulder to Zuko when he came home, akin to the symbol of the “comforts of home in the form of a complementary wife” for the boys in WWII. I also never felt that she was anything besides Zuko’s girlfriend, since she doesn’t turn on Azula because she believes that what the fire nation is doing might by wrong, but because she loves Zuko. I’m sorry, but women’s motivations do not revolve entirely around men in the real world. Kataang also felt forced and uncomfortable because it was Oediphal in nature. Katara had always been Aang’s mother figure, even posing as his mother when they went to a fire nation school. Yes, they had many episodes to develop the “romance” between Aang and Katara, but the time was used poorly. Said romance would only be addressed once in a blue moon, not in small bits in every single episode. I never understood why Aang and Katara liked each other either, especially not Katara. Speaking as a girl, teen girls just DO NOT fall in love with boys younger than them, especially not if the boy is just a kid. They tend to fall for older guys, since girls mature faster than boys in adolescence and want more mature (and sexually experience guys), which is why I could believe that Katara had a brief infatuation with Jet. To me, it’s not the amount of time, but how ones uses it. I don’t care if Aang was “mature” for his age, that doesn’t mean he’d be ready in the romantic or sexual department. I wouldn’t have a problem if Aang and Katara had fallen in love when they were in their twenties, when a two year gap no longer makes much of a difference. But my distaste for Kataang goes deeper than an Oediphal vibe, it also reeks disgustingly of the tired old “hero gets the girl” trope. It reinforces the Nice Guy complex entitlement that was very aptly described by a Cracked article called 5 Ways Men are Trained to Hate Women:

    “Well, you have to keep in mind that what we learn as kids is really hard to deprogram as an adult. And what we learned as kids is that we males are each owed, and will eventually be awarded, a beautiful woman.We were told this by every movie, TV show, novel, comic book, video game and song we encountered. When the Karate Kid wins the tournament, his prize is a trophy and Elisabeth Shue. Neo saves the world and is awarded Trinity. Marty McFly gets his dream girl, John McClane gets his ex-wife back, Keanu “Speed” Reeves gets Sandra Bullock, Shia LaBeouf gets Megan Fox in Transformers, Iron Man gets Pepper Potts, the hero in Avatar gets the hottest Na’vi, Shrek gets Fiona, Bill Murray gets Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters, Frodo gets Sam, WALL-E gets EVE, and so on. Hell, at the end of An Officer and a Gentleman, Richard Gere walks into the lady’s workplace and just carries her out like he’s picking up a suit at the dry cleaner. And then we have Star Wars, where Luke starts out getting Princess Leia (in The Empire Strikes Back), but then as Han Solo became a fan favorite, George Lucas realized he had to award her to him instead (forcing him to write the “She’s secretly Luke’s sister” thing into Return of the Jedi, even though it meant adding the weird incest vibe to Empire). With Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling played with the convention by having the beautiful girl get awarded to the sidekick character Ron, but she made it a central conflict in the story that Ron is constantly worried that, since Harry is the main character, Hermione will be awarded to him instead. In each case, the woman has no say in this — compatibility doesn’t matter, prior relationships don’t matter, nothing else factors in. If the hero accomplishes his goals, he is awarded his favorite female. Yes, there will be dialogue that maybe makes it sound like the woman is having doubts, and she will make noises like she is making the decision on her own. But we, as the audience, know that in the end the hero will ‘get the girl,’ just as we know that at the end of the month we’re going to ‘get our paycheck.’ Failure to award either is breaking a societal contract. The girl can say what she wants, but we all know that at the end, she will wind up with the hero, whether she knows it or not. And now you see the problem. From birth we’re taught that we’re owed a beautiful girl. We all think of ourselves as the hero of our own story, and we all (whether we admit it or not) think we’re heroes for just getting through our day. So it’s very frustrating, and I mean frustrating to the point of violence, when we don’t get what we’re owed. A contract has been broken. These women, by exercising their own choices, are denying it to us. It’s why every Nice Guy is shocked to find that buying gifts for a girl and doing her favors won’t win him sex. It’s why we go to ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ as our default insults — we’re not mad that women enjoy sex. We’re mad that women are distributing to other people the sex that they owed us. Yes, the women in these stories are being portrayed as wonderful and beautiful and perfect. But remember, there are two ways to dehumanize someone: by dismissing them, and by idolizing them.”

    That last part especially bothered me, becaue it reminded me of Aang’s childish outburst from the Ember Island Players depiction of Zutara. He whines to Katara about them not being together, but when Katara says that she’s confused and that there’s a war to worry about (the same excuse Mako gave Asami), he kisses her against her will, or tries to. But in the end, Katara comes around and the last scene in Avatar is them kissing, as if that was the most important thing about the show. Korra kissed Mako when he said he was confused to, so I guess Avatars are pretty entitled. Katara, more often than not, seemed to brush off Aang, giving me the impression that she didn’t return his affections, but only saw him as “a sweet little guy like Momo.” So when she suddenly got jealous when Aang danced with another girl, I was truly baffled. The romance was mostly shown from Aang’s point of view as he looks at Katara, but not the other way round. Some fans have also noticed that since Mike D is bald, and Aang is bald, he could be Bryke’s wish-fullfilment. That means that whatever biases from them could be projected onto Aang and some of the other characters. For example, some of the antagonists are older, taller, and more good-looking guys who are popular with girls. Like Zuko from the beach, Jet with Katara, and now Tahno pre-debending. I guess it means that Bryke might have some serioues Nice Guy issues, like they couldn’t get the hot older girl in high school becausee of older, more popular guys. Heck, Korra’s dislike of the prettier and richer Asami could be the Taylor Swift “You Belong With Me” equivalent of the Nice Guy thing with the tomboy calling the other girl names because she’s more feminine and has the guy that she’s after.

    August 25, 2013 at 9:17 pm

    • spiderbowl

      This describes the big issue I have with Kataang, is that you never really get a solid sense of what Katara is feeling. To me it always felt like she never ever thought of Aang romantically on her own, it was usually outside forces being like ” Hey? What do you think of Aaang.” and she’s always thinking ” Eh, I don’t know never really thought about it.” As oppose to Aang who brings it up on his own accord. That always bothered me, because its like you said. The girl almost feels like she has no real say in it she just kind of gives into this expected pressure to be with this kid.

      The troubling part I had with the ending romance in LOK is that Korra basically feels worthless and unlovable because basically everything she valued about herself was taken away from her. BUT AS SOON as you gets her powers back there’s Mako. In a weird way it seemed to reconfirm that she wasn’t worth a man before but now that she’s back to being a Demi god, she’s worth love. Rubbed me the wrong way.

      August 26, 2013 at 2:26 pm

  3. Ian

    First thing, don’t make promises in the first place, we all can be patient enough to wait for you to finish your series. The best advice I can give u is don’t set deadlines, even deadlines that might be a months wait, don’t, do, it. It only leads to more pressure to get it done, which leads to rushed development on script, and an overall decrease in quality. Your not getting paid to do this, so take your time bro. With that said, like you pointed out in the video, even the fans of the show cant deny the crappy romance, and I think you touched on a good point that its OK to want to have these corny love triangles, but only when its needed, which for a show with 12 episodes, it wasn’t needed at all. I mean if episode 5 was the only episode the romance happened in, Id be completely cool with it, because I liked episode fives romance(most of it anyway), to me it was the cheesy romancy stuff they were going for, but they just kept stretching it out and…blah!

    Any who, sorry for the tangent, keep up the good work dude, and don’t set deadlines! As long as you can give us updates, or at least an estimation of each parts release, we will be fine 🙂

    Also, as someone who did like the show, would you at any point like to discuss it? To see just why a lot of us do like the show? I’m not trying to convince you of anything, but just give my side as you have yours.

    ALSO, would you ever consider doing a whole episode on things you do like in the show? Or just a video of you gushing over episode 6?

    Sorry for the long post, (of mainly me rambling :P)

    Please reply 🙂

    August 26, 2013 at 12:17 am

  4. rosemon

    Ugh, I don’t really think Doug Walker is anywhere near as observant as you. And for somebody called the Nostalgia CRITIC, he’s not really that critical. He totally thinks that Sokka’s weak throwaway explanation for blood-bending without a full moon was great. He honestly thinks that every episode except number five is good. He is also impatient for Korra to fight Amon when running away from him in Out of the Past was a wise idea because she’d be too weak and hurt to fight back. On the other hand, I can’t blame him for being impatient since most of the episodes were wasted on both romance and pro-bending.

    August 26, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    • Ian

      I think the sokka line is a accept it or dont thing, I loved that line and I think it completely is legitimate (I wont argue over it) Also He seems to enjoy it like I do, (although Im not as impatient with alot of the stuff he is.

      August 26, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    • JMR

      Ugh, that total non-explaination. Two reasons I can’t stand it:

      1) The comparisons Sokka makes are completely bogus. Toph’s discovery of metalbending is well explained by the narrative. She comes to the understanding that metal is refined earth and due to her special power is able to sense and manipulate those bits of unrefined earth that remain. Combustion Man’s firebending is never really explained, but the narrative situation is too different to make a good comparison. His abilities, like the fact that he never talks, are meant to add an air of mystery to him, so for that matter really shouldn’t be explained. Beyond that, though, how exactly Combustion Man’s firebending works isn’t an integral part of the plot.

      On the other hand, Yakone and Sons ability to bloodbend in daylight is a key plot element. It also violates established rules in a way that neither Combustion Man’s firebending or Toph’s metalbending didn’t. Because of this, it needed a far more in depth explaination than Combustion Man ever did in order to stop it from feeling like a cheap Hand Wave from Bryke.

      2) This is supposedly a Court of Fucking Law! A Fucking Court of Fucking Law where “Eh, shit happens” is a perfectly valid reason to ignore the fact that the crime the accused is charged with is believed to be entirely impossible. The show of course completely stacks the deck by making sure we know what a scumbag Yakone is so that we just know he’s guilty, obviously trying to make us ignore this problem because, c’mon, look at what a douchebag that asshole is! He deserves whatever is coming to him! Whatever Yakone is like as an individual, this is still a travesty of Justice.

      August 26, 2013 at 5:59 pm

  5. Ian

    This is a post from Rob Walkers facebook on his and Dougs impressions of the show overall.

    Someone noted on my FB that Doug isn’t as enthused about Korra. So what are my thoughts? Reposted below — (WARNING: SPOILERS!)

    I just wrapped with Doug on the final three episodes.

    I think I ended up defending it more than Doug did.

    My thoughts —

    1) Having seen a lot of BAD anime, I thought this was still way better.

    2) The love triangle, while not awesome, was pretty unobtrusive, all things considered. It could’ve been way worse. But I’ve also seen a lot of BAD love triangles. So this wasn’t that bad.

    3) Mako was the weak link. He’s not a BAD character. However, the creators set the bar so high for themselves and for other shows, that Mako — simply being good — doesn’t cut it as well when everyone is so great. Doug and I both agree we would’ve liked to see Bolin get Korra.

    4) The ending is not a Deus ex Machina. It makes LOGICAL sense. But both Doug and I agree it’s a very rushed ending and the creators missed an opportunity. I don’t mind if Korra gets her powers back, but it should’ve been more of a journey. This show TOTALLY needed one more episode to deal with that better. Still, I think it would’ve been cooler if Korra learned how to deal with losing bending more — being able to walk in the normal person’s shoes, and THEN gets her powers back after a full season.

    5) That said, some blame may go to Nickelodeon. I think the creators may have panicked because they weren’t sure until the last minute whether they were gonna get another season. So I understand where they were coming from. It’s hard to know how to end something when you don’t know if you can continue the story.

    6) I liked Korra as a character more than I think Doug did.

    7) Tenzin and Lin definitely had the most adult relationship in the story. And they both kick ass.

    Doug didn’t like pro-bending. I LOVED it.

    9) Casting was great. How do you follow Mark Hamill? Steve Blum as Amon is GREAT choice. And both Doug and I liked Tarlok too. And I love Dante Basco coming back!!! But the character design made him look too old. I think they needed to soften the jaw-line to match his awesome, distinctive voice.

    10) Overall, I loved the show. I told Doug it’s not fair to compare it to Last Airbender because they’re both stylistically different. To me, it’s like comparing Burton’s Batman to Nolan’s. Each are doing different things. Last Airbender runs on high fantasy myth, Korra is more of a revolutionary political drama — a city story.

    I enjoyed it. It has its flaws. But as I told Doug — remember, the first season of Last Airbender took its time to get its groove too. We’re only one season into this thing now. And both Doug and I agreed that the show finally nailed it in its last half. The story came together very nicely, despite the last misstep in the final minute.

    Overall, can’t wait for more!

    So it seems they both really enjoyed the show! Awesome!

    August 28, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    • I just watched the “Endgame” vlog, which I was happy to see included Rob Walker. They both definitely had the same problem with the ending that I did, but it didn’t affect their perception of the rest of the series very much. That’s fine by me.

      The only thing I’ll take issue with is the notion that this is probably Nickelodeon’s fault as well. I used to think that a while ago–in fact, had the Korranalaysis been done efficiently, my segment on Konietzko and DiMartino would have been me wondering just how much of Korra’s flaws were strictly on them. But thanks to many recent developments (i.e. Konietzko’s response to accusations of white-washing; the drop of the Equalist plot; DiMartino liking Man of Steel), I think the blame lies mostly with them. If only they’d had a few additional writers on board.

      September 2, 2013 at 11:42 am

      • Ian

        exactly, I think Bryke should never write a season on their own again. Thankfully we have writers now 🙂 but….Where are the ehasz’s!?

        September 2, 2013 at 2:08 pm

  6. rosemon

    I’m amazed that Doug Walker thinks this episode was how the Dark Knight should have been and that he cares about the “taking out of the council members,” since the members were basically Tarrlock’s hand-raising robots. They didn’t even have names. And it pains me how the reviewing brothers find the characters to be “not bad,” when both Mako and Korra come off as despicable (Mako especially), though I guess they don’t care enough about the romance to pay attention to how awful the characters are acting. Doug says that the Tenzin-Lin-Pema love triangle was much better, but I think it was unnecessary and petty for characters supposed to be adults. But romance may very well be kryptonite to Bryke (or the Avatar universe). But are Bryke really better at writing fantasy than romance? Because I say they’re just as bad at writing fantasy on their own (without the Ehazs) as they are at romance. And I’m thinking that Rob Walker is way too much of an apologist for this show. I fail to see how ending was anything other than a Deus ex Machina, unless it was building off of the last series’ ending with the Lion Turtle (which is also widely considered among the Avatar fandom as a Deus ex Machina).

    August 28, 2013 at 6:06 pm

  7. JMR

    So Doug Walker just finished up his Korra vlogs. While I certainly didn’t expect him to dislike the show to the depths that I do (he’s never shown much interest in social justice type topics, which is where soooo much of the odious content in Korra lies), I was surprised by how… ambivalent he was towards it. He enjoyed it, but I never really felt he had the same level of enthusiasm for it as he did A:TLA.

    His criticisms of the show’s ending match a lot of what has been said here and elsewhere, mainly centering on the fact that the way it plays out cuts the show off from so many great story possibilities, all in the name of a last minute quick and easy fix. There are, of course, legions of apologists in the comment section of the video trying to claim it isn’t so bad, mainly hinging on the old “suicide theory” thing.

    And y’know, I understand why people like the “suicide theory” so much. If you look at in that way it does bring a lot of the plots loose ends together. But we’re done a disservice in the fact that we have no idea what’s going in Korra’s head. Sure, she decides not to throw herself off the cliff, but why?

    August 31, 2013 at 11:12 pm

    • Ian

      Id say he had the same amount of enjoyment from this book 1 as he did for book 1 of avatar to be honest. But yeah, people need to stop defending the ending, its, just….no

      September 1, 2013 at 8:34 am

  8. Ian

    So Marshall will you be doing episode by episode reviews of book 2 or will you be reviewing it as a whole? Or just skipping it entirely

    September 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm

  9. rosemon

    Has there been a change in schedule regarding the videos?

    September 8, 2013 at 1:50 pm

  10. rosemon

    A guy on fanfiction dot net called Writinggating made some excellent points as to why Korra sucked, particularly criticizing the characters’ weak motivations.

    When all is said and done, I need to ask: If Korra died, or was de-bended, would it have really affected the overall plot that much?

    September 11, 2013 at 9:52 pm

    • Ian

      yknow at this point your just being redundant rosemon, we get it you dont think Korra book 1 was good, bravo, book 2 starts tomorrow, book 1 is old news and bringing up its flaws as something relevant outside of a review isnt just getting old. Lets see what book 2 has to offer.

      September 12, 2013 at 4:52 pm

      • Ian

        “is* just getting old. ”
        also dont take the above post as a personal attack Im just tired of seeing all these comments that are just getting old. Lets look forward to book 2, for better or worse 🙂

        September 12, 2013 at 4:54 pm

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