Racebending.com often has some very interesting discussions dealing with ethnicity and gender. They were the ones who asked Joss Whedon at Comic Con last year why there were no Asian faces in Firefly. They are very passionate about what they do. I respect them for it. I respect them for craving diversity in TV and movies.
This, of course, spills over to their Tumblr feed. Where they aggregate some great conversations on various topics. One month ago, I found a conversation I felt the need to engage in about “the Legend of Korra”. I don’t feel like I’ve got many horses in the race when it comes to talking about race being largely white. I do think that PoC have been trivialized in the entertainment industry and would like to see more ethnicities on the screen. White people have had their run. We live in a diverse society and it’s about time we see that reflected in our entertainment.
And then there’s the representation of women. This is where I have a horse in the race. I understand what it’s like to be a woman in this world being one myself. There aren’t very many diverse and accurate female representations. And that is the crux of the discussion of “Korra”. “Avatar, the Last Airbender” was rife with strong women. Many women feel miffed that that trend didn’t find its way into the most recent season of “Korra”.
And while there’s a lot to be said of the treatment of women in this season, I also have complaints about the story… something I don’t think was capably handled this season.
My largest complaint has to deal with how many plot arcs they started and concluded this season. Granted, these plot arcs will have long-running repercussions, but it felt like these plot arcs were jammed like a child who doesn’t understand that the round peg cannot fit through the square hole. There were 3 or 4 storylines that all ended when the season ended. And as they all ended, they did create long-running repercussions.
However, this also fits in to unfortunate representation of women… particularly Asami.
I feel like she could have been treated like a strong and smart business woman. She certainly could be more capable of getting past her father’s transgression in being a member of Equalists. When her father’s business went down hill partly due to pirates she could have put on her big girl panties and stepped up to be a business leader.
Instead she depends on some “Hollywood” Lothario. She never realizes the strong female role she could have been. Instead she depends on a man. This seems to be counter to what I would expect from the Avatar team… the same team who created the most bad ass of female avatars.
And really, that makes me sad. I wish there were more strong female characters. I wish that the female characters were better realized. I think it’s the fact that they were trying to cram so many plot lines in to one season that they forgot to flesh out the women, to make them more integral and less decorative.
The one instance that does happen is when Jinora helps Korra navigate through the spirit world. While her father, Tenzin, wishes he could be the one to do so and therefore prove himself to his deceased father Aang. While I understand Tenzin’s jealousy of his own daughter, it was nice to see a more minor female role do something a bit more pro-active. Jinora is still quite naïve. That naiveté is what proves to be an obstacle for her. I’m hoping that in the future that they flesh out Jinora more. I would love to see her as a stronger female role. She may play the fairy girl guide right now, I can see Jinora becoming a force to be reckoned with and a powerful ally to Korra.
Really that makes me sad. There aren’t enough strong women roles. We have the fairy girl who exists solely to help the male protagonist in his story. We have comic relief. Where are the Cagney and Lacey of the ’00′s? (Yes, I realize that I just showed my age as I remember Cagney and Lacey.)
That’s something that I would like to rectify. I would like to create female characters that exist to forward their own goals, not some man’s. I want to create women who are strong enough to stand on their two feet, but can still be vulnerable and strong. I would like there to be a female role model that I wish existed when I was a child.
I think that “Korra” could certainly produce that. I’m hoping that in the next season they will get there… it might just take some time.