Monday, August 16, 2021

Why I Loved Korra

This may be a cardinal sin of geekdom, but I didn’t watch Avatar growing up (but I wish I had) so I didn’t watch Korra when it came out. As I went through college, I was exposed to enough of Avatar and Korra to know I’d enjoy it. So when it hit Netflix during quarantine, I knew I had to watch it.

I recently finished watching Legend of Korra. To be honest, I don’t understand the hate it gets from Avatar fans (at least the most vocal of Avatar fans). I liked that each season was its own story, unlike Avatar. And the abbreviated seasons made for a wonderful lack of filler episodes. In my opinion, each season had a great message for real life.

Book One: Prejudice

The first season of Korra had the task of doing world-building. Even though viewers were familiar with the world of Avatar, because life had changed much since Zuko became Fire Lord, there was a lot for viewers to become accustomed to. In the midst of world-building, Book One set the precedent of benders vs. non-benders. Amon (secretly a bender) spread animosity towards benders, which set benders against non-benders. I swear this is exactly how the world is today. Republicans vs. democrats. Black vs. white. Us vs. them. Doesn’t matter who the two sides are, as long as there are sides, no one will win.

Book Two: Tradition

A lot happened in season 2 between the spirit portals’ opening, the conflict between Korra’s father, her uncle and her, and learning the origin of the Avatar spirit. Book three was called "change" but this is where the changes begin; Korra’s friendships change, her relationship to the spirits change, and the world changes. What was good for the world in the time of Wan isn’t the same as what the world needed in Korra’s time. Times change and that’s okay. People change and that’s good. If we stop changing and if life stops changing, we stop growing.

Book Three: Free Will

Coming into the third season, we got an influx of air benders after Harmonic Convergence. One of these was Zaheer, leader of the Red Lotus, who wanted to overthrow the governments and create a “free” world. I could go into something about agency, free will, or the commandments, but when it comes down to it, we need some sort of order to fully express our free will. Even if we just look at the fact that (based on many studies) kids thrive on a routine and a feeling of stability. Without rules or structure, there would be no stability.

Book Four: Trauma

At the end of Book Three, Korra was spiritually violated and nearly killed. That would mess anyone up, but also take into account that Korra is basically supposed to repeatedly save the world. That’s a lot to put on anyone’s shoulders even without the trauma. Even with the most patient and compassionate of therapists, working through hurt and pain is as hard as it gets. Instead of a compassionate therapist, Korra had Toph, who’s anything but compassionate. Naturally Korra was scared to face her demons, but things couldn’t get better until she did. It was painful and scary, but she did it. And she became stronger through it all.

Korra might get the short end of the stick when it comes to the love of Avatar fans, but she deserves respect. Perhaps her greatest lesson was during that last season and it’s a lesson we all need: Compassion.

"I needed to understand what real suffering was, so I could become more compassionate to others."

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