while searching for something fun to watch as a family during lockdown we somehow settled on The Last Airbender. i don’t remember why at all. it was probably my wife’s suggestion and we all liked the show when it aired originally. i didn’t really have huge expectations when we started, but i’m a sucker for animation, and any unforced activity with teenagers is a win, so that was that.
i realized as we progressed through the seasons that it was a not only a great story and but also really subversive. it showed things that aren’t really taught in western education. parents poking their heads in to make sure the kiddo is pacified in front of a TV probably never noticed. i sure hadn’t when i was pacifying my own kids with it.
how many other children’s programs teach naive american’s about meditation, chakras, reincarnation, and chi? balance, harmony, or how conflict resolution without guns or killing?
and did you notice that the Earth King dressed in Qing dynasty regalia and wore spectacles like Puyi? there was quite bit of history stuffed into those fictional characters. Uncle Iroh spoke in Taoist proverbs the whole time and he’s really just an animated taoist Uncle Cao. far and away my favorite character, of course.
last night we finished the final episode of The Legend of Korra. that’s seven seasons and roughly 100 episodes. quite a journey and the education never let up, literally up to the very last second.
season one dared to suggest an alternate creation myth to a frighteningly closed-minded judeo-christian audience. and was it just me or did the series actually end with the main character walking off into the sunset with the hot girl — despite being female!?! like for real non-straight relationship in a kids show? hell yes! how on earth did that make it through the story meetings?
but far and away my favorite bit: after watching the second season’s baddy spout straight up Bakunin collectivist anarchism episode after episode — i kept thinking thinking, “where do i know that voice? what actor is this? i just can’t place it,” my wife says, “this bad guy sounds just like Henry Rollins?” and holy shit it, it is! who do they get to preach anarchism to the youth but the lead singer of the band named after the anarchism’s black flag and maybe the best spoken word artist of our generation. not bad Nickelodeon, not bad at all.
anyway, it was a very nice way to introduce a still young and open minded audience to a broader view of the world without upsetting their closed-minded parents too much. so if you’re a parent and need to pacify your kids during lockdown (i completely understand), might i suggest plopping them down in front of Avatar Ang and friends. they might just learn something new.