John C. Wright on “The Legend of Korra”

Of course, he’s dead on. For those who don’t know, the creators heavily (from what I heard VERY heavily) implied a lesbian relationship between the title character and a major supporting character. Then, after the episode aired, they came out and confirmed the relationship.

Wright’s summation of the whole thing is accurate (basically that the creators are evil and should be ashamed of themselves). To his words I add this:

I loved “The Last Airbender”. It should go down as one of the great Western cartoons of all time. The characters were relateable, the story epic in scale, and the general writing quality superb. Zuko alone is quite possibly the best example of the fallen Prince archetype I’ve ever seen. The male characters had masculine roles, the female characters had feminine roles, and none had unimportant roles. It was a brilliant show.

“Korra” was not. I stopped watching it after a poorly written season one. I heard it greatly improved after season two. I wouldn’t know and am not interested in finding out. This is because of the character of Korra.

From the start it was clear that Korra was meant to be a man. Oh, she dated guys early on. That’s besides the point. Korra was a masculine woman.

I know what they were trying to do. “The Last Airbender” was about Aang, already a master spiritualist (to coin a phrase), learning the physical tasks of bending. So Korra is a master at the physical aspects of bending and needs to master the spiritual.

That’s fine. The difference is that Aang’s lack of physical skill is not connected to lack of masculinity, at least in a noteworthy sense. It’s because Aang is twelve and never left the Air Kingdom. Korra is a teenager, and Korra’s problem isn’t because of age. It’s because Korra is masculine.

And the problem is not solved by her becoming more feminine, which would be good character development. The problem is solved because…there wasn’t a very good reason. Her other powers are removed and she can suddenly air bend? It wasn’t well done.

The point is that the problem was solved with Korra still able to be masculine. And there was no masculine man around either, or at least no dominant man. There was no male who had a personality more dominant than Korra’s. So Korra remained the alpha male of the series. She was the leader by virtue of her masculinity. My understanding is that, though her character underwent intense development, this did not change.

The writing was on the wall from season one. I’m not surprised her character took this arc. Or rather, almost did. Instead of making a real statement her creators cravenly left her final relationship open to “interpretation”, then retroactively proclaimed that Korra was lesbian all along. They were too chickenshit to even make it explicit in the series. They don’t even have the virtue of misguided moral fortitude to save them. What they did was deplorable in every sense.

So I’m not surprised the show ended the way it did. I’m only surprised that conservatives didn’t see it coming sooner.

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31 Responses to John C. Wright on “The Legend of Korra”

  1. Will post more as I go through this, but had to point out:

    From the start it was clear that Korra was meant to be a man. Oh, she dated guys early on. That’s besides the point. Korra was a masculine woman.

    You know that was LITERALLY the case with Toph? I’ve heard more than once that they were going to make that character male then said, “You know, what if we kept everything the same, but flipped the gender?”

    Also, I don’t know how much it was intended, but in the set up canon that we had from the show, it was pretty clear that the Avatar alternated genders within the tribes it cycled through. Since the previous water!Av was male, the next water!Av would logically be female (and the next earth!Av would be male).

    • Toph was like ten or something, not the main character, and her sexuality was basically never discussed. Big difference.

      I don’t care, really, that Korra was female. I just disliked her character.

      • lol fair enough, I’m just a stickler for technical details. XD

        I didn’t really like Korra at first, but in S1 (at least, like I’ve said, I’ve got to watch more) I ended up liking her because the show was willing to call her out on her actions and have the world punish her at times.

      • What I don’t like is that Korra started out as Alpha Male and ended as Alpha Male, ultimately ending up with a submissive female love interest. And who said SJW’s hate tradition?

      • ha ha ha, touche, Mal. Though one is hard pressed to blame Korra given she’s… you know, the most powerful person in the world.

        Hmmm… now THERE’S a writing assignment for you. Write someone who’s the most powerful being in the world, but ISN’T alpha.

      • That’s actually a legitimate writing issue. What should have happened is either 1) Somebody with a stronger PERSONALITY than Korra, a natural leader, should have ended up with her, or 2) Korra ends up with nobody. Both would have worked perfectly well.

      • If you’re curious, Mal, I watched S2 and reviewed it.

  2. Sparky says:

    Season 2 was worse. Korra’s response for everything was to hit it with her fist. She never thought anything through at all and never grew at all. Neither did anyone else, actually.

    If you hated season 1, I can’t imagine liking the second.

  3. Crude says:

    I thought some of the show was enjoyable, but Korra herself was always the least interesting or most obnoxious part of it all. The moment I heard the show was being punted from TV to a web show, I had a feeling I knew what was coming. No one changes mid-stream like that, not even for poor ratings.

    It was a bit like the idiot princeling. The moment I saw him, given the context of the world and the changes made, I called “He will abdicate for democracy.”

    Though I’m not sure about Korra being the alpha male of the series. She was the headstrong one, but almost everyone seemed willing to flat out tell her off – and she got knocked on her ass repeatedly.

    But of course, it had to be sacrificed for a political moment, because if you let a SJW near something, they need to smear their feces all over it. I really wish they continued this story in comics, and tossed it to a non-SJW. Now that I’d read.

  4. GRA says:

    Was Korra initially developed as a lesbian/bi after the creators decided the character was to be female? I get the feeling that her sexuality was more along lines if “we need a character that ‘reflects’ reality, so Korra is gonna like girls because darn it the children need to see this side of sexuality.” It’s like how Rowling said Dumbledore was a homosexual AFTER the book series was done when met with questions on why he and McGonnegal never hooked up. Mightily convenient.

  5. Jackie says:

    I’m disgusted that you associate “Dominant” with “Masculinity.” Men are not naturally dominant. A dominant female does not make her more masculine. The natural order does not have “males in charge.”

    The writers were also not “too chickenshit.” I applaud how they handled the ending, *because it aired.* Nickolodeon would never have allowed it to air if they’d been too up front from the start. They’d have said some bullshit about it not being appropriate for a kid’s show. Nevermind that nobody bats an eyelash at heterosexual relationships in kids shows, but then pretend it’s somehow different when it’s homosexual, just because of their own bigotry.

    • Nevermind that nobody bats an eyelash at heterosexual relationships in kids shows, but then pretend it’s somehow different when it’s homosexual, just because of their own bigotry.

      You are new to this blog, but you should know that you are writing to somebody who thinks there is a difference between heterosexual and homosexual romantic relationships, namely, the latter is fundamentally immoral and disordered.

      You can assume it’s because I’m a bigot, or you can try and figure out why I think that and actually learn that those you hate aren’t really Satan’s spawn. The choice is yours.

      • Irish Jackie says:

        See, there’s no condemnation of homosexuality that isn’t bigotry. There’s no reason you could give. If some fictional deity actually existed and declared it wrong, then that God would be a bigot. But then, bigotry isn’t “morally wrong.” At least, not in some objective way — morality is a personal thing, not a universal truth. There’s certainly been many moralities that have espoused various types of bigotry as virtues, and that’s something that is pointless to argue. When you start from radically different assumptions, you will not likely reach the same conclusion.

        Hatred isn’t something I feel. Pity, sure. Pity for those who can’t deal with life in a logical and rational basis and have to insert superstition and metaphysical nonsense to help make sense of the universe around them, and then end up persecuting those who don’t match their own morality. As for “Satan,” he’s as fictional as any God, but generally a more compelling character — better fiction.

      • See, there’s no condemnation of homosexuality that isn’t bigotry.

        In other words, people who think homosexuality is wrong are bigots because people who think homosexuality is wrong are bigots.

        Ignoring the “I hate religious people but don’t call it hate” bullshit, which I don’t care about and didn’t mention

        Wow, that’s all of it!

        What I got out of this is that no, you;re not even remotely open-minded to the idea that somebody you disagree with isn’t a bigot, and therefore this makes you more open-minded somehow.

        QED.

    • Minor point:

      Nevermind that nobody bats an eyelash at heterosexual relationships in kids shows, but then pretend it’s somehow different when it’s homosexual, just because of their own bigotry.

      Uh… or it’s because 99% of kids are exposed to “heterosexual relationships” from day 1. It’s called: Their. Parents. (how else do you think we get the kids for the shows to be aimed at?) I’m pretty sure that’s a big difference beyond “just… bigotry.” Also the show runners will probably want to encourage those heterosexual relationships so more kids can be produced to watch both reruns of the shows and new content made in the future.

      So I think you might be a little off, it’s less “bigotry” and more b.i.o.l.o.g.y.

      • Irish Jackie says:

        And what you describe, natewinchester, is a problem of ignorance – a lack of familiarity and therefore understanding that people are no different than anyone else based on sexual orientation. The Legend of Korra helps correct this ignorance. Now millions of kids have been exposed to their heroine and her girlfriend, and will think it normal. This is a great thing.

        There will be those that disagree. And over time those voices are becoming less numerous and those accepting are growing. When I was a kid, you could get away with saying the “n-word” and not be considered a bad person. Today, you turn yourself into a pariah for hinting at racist views. In another 30 years, those who condemn homosexuality will be viewed the same way as racists. It’s inevitable at this point. What this show did was help hurry that along a little.

      • Ignorant am I? Then by all means fix it and kindly provide your evidence that humans have become an asexual species.

      • Irish Jackie says:

        That’s a straw-man. I didn’t say humans are asexual. I said sexual orientations don’t make us different. A gay man is still just a man. His preference is as significant as a preference for red-heads over brunettes.

      • Then you said nothing about Nate’s point.

      • Irish Jackie says:

        Actually I said everything about his point. His argument was that the reason people pretend it’s different to show a same-sex relationship instead of a heterosexual relationship is that kids and parents alike tend to be unfamiliar with gay relationships. They are (mostly) straight. I don’t disagree with this. My counterpoint was that it doesn’t contradict anything I said. Bigotry is usually a result of not trusting what you don’t understand, the belief that what is different is somehow wrong, or inferior. That is ignorance in the classical definition – “not knowing.” Heck, even nate’s assumption that gay couples don’t have kids belies unfamiliarity.

        The way to combat this is to make it familiar. Make it commonplace. Make people understand that it’s no different. This is happening at adult levels – popular support for same-sex marriage in America is now a clear majority, while 10 years ago the majority was distinctly against it. However, it’s still something that is left out of media targeted at kids. Somewhere between 2 and 10% of the population identifies as gay or bisexual, yet every couple holding hands shown on a kids show is one male, one female. This is why I love the ending of Korra. It doesn’t hammer anyone over the head with it. It doesn’t make a social point. It doesn’t argue morality. It skips the unnecessary coming out story. It just treats it as a normal thing as romantic as any other story.

      • Strawman? I pointed out the very simple fact of human reproduction and you replied by saying “ignorant.” So it’s a little late to complain about the house you built.

        And the significance/difference of the gay man’s preference is that he won’t produce offspring. Same as if a man had a preference for anything outside the species, particularly towards inanimate objects. Which is what I said earlier, which you are arguing against, but somehow that doesn’t mean humans reproduce asexually even though you keep arguing against the fact of human sexual reproduction.

        That you up above demand that Malcolm follow “logic and reason” is hilarious as you can’t demonstrate an ability to do so within a single thread.

      • Heck, even nate’s assumption that gay couples don’t have kids belies unfamiliarity.

        So you have a case of two men or two women successfully reproducing? Cool! Which man carried the child to term? Please, show the results and provide the evidence, this should be intriguing.

      • Irish Jackie says:

        (1) Many gay men have their own offspring with a donor woman (without ever having sex with her.) There’s also the fact of adoption, and more people adopting is desperately needed. Either way, most gay couples DO end up having children.
        (2) Gay women don’t even need a donor anymore. It’s entirely possible for two women to have a child without even a sperm donor.

      • Yeah, because the smart move for capitalists is totally to bet on parthenogenesis as the wave of the future.

      • Actually I said everything about his point. His argument was that the reason people pretend it’s different to show a same-sex relationship instead of a heterosexual relationship is that kids and parents alike tend to be unfamiliar with gay relationships. They are (mostly) straight.

        But that wasn’t Nate’s point. It was that shows have a very obvious reason to cater to straight relationships, namely, it’s those in straight relationships who are going to have kids who will watch the show later.

        In your bigotry you are reading what you want into our responses because you refuse to admit that we might not actually be the fools or monsters you think we are.

        And stop with the “I pity you” bullshit. No, you don’t. Condescend to us, yes.

      • Crude says:

        Either way, most gay couples DO end up having children.

        Nah. Even the friendliest of LGBT sources put this at around half the rate of heterosexual couples, at best – and that’s before accounting for how many of these children are carryovers from broken heterosexual unions.

        Thankfully, more and more people – including LGBT people – are getting sick and tired of the incessant bullying and screeching everyone has to endure from the LGBT activists, who at this point seem almost exclusively composed of fragile sorts who connect any criticism of LGBT people with murder. Just as more and more people are getting tired of the ‘racist’ card being flung left and right, to the point where the word – and the accusation – is losing its edge.

        What’s really inevitable is change – and not the sort of change anyone predicts or hopes for. The russians didn’t predict that in a couple decades time they’d be turning into a socially conservative anti-communist nation. No one saw the rise of the UKIP in Britain. The possibility of Greece exiting the euro was considered far fetched a decade ago. And on and on it goes.

        But with the way things are going, I don’t think it’s going to take 30 years for LGBT people to be socially forced to awkwardly say, ‘I’m not one of those crazy ones! Everyone makes their choices, I don’t demand everyone praise my lifestyle. Please, let’s all just get along – I’m sorry about what some idiots did years ago.’ Probably more like ’10 years’.

      • I disagree crude!

        I think it’s begun now. 😉 it takes some looking but you can find those on tumblr.

      • Crude says:

        I think it’s begun now. 😉 it takes some looking but you can find those on tumblr.

        The rumblings are starting. People forget that LGBT people are not the LGBT activists. Most LGBT people, I think, just want to live in peace. No, they don’t feel the burning need to shut down the bakery of the woman down the street because she doesn’t want to service a same-sex wedding – in fact they feel horrified that some schmuck in a rainbow sash would do so, just as they feel horrified when she’s villified and inundated with death threats by social justice warriors.

        I think it’s going to take time to build up. But a good comparison here is Ferguson – that was depicted up and down as the stuff of vile racism, with a poor black victim, and the people of Ferguson should be ashamed of themselves, as should white people in general. Today, in the climate of ‘racism is horrible’, most people still decided that Mike Brown was a goddamn thug, and the cops deserved support – claims of racism be damned.

        Welcome to the best future LGBT activists can hope for.

      • (1) Many gay men have their own offspring with a donor woman (without ever having sex with her.) There’s also the fact of adoption, and more people adopting is desperately needed. Either way, most gay couples DO end up having children.

        So let’s see… heterosexual breeding requires at minimum… 2 people involved.

        Homosexual breeding requires at minimum… 3 people involved.

        Yep, seems different to me.

        (2) Gay women don’t even need a donor anymore. It’s entirely possible for two women to have a child without even a sperm donor.

        Except………. not. So far it’s only in the realm of speculation with no actually produced live births at the time of this writing.

  6. Irish Jackie, I have a theoretical model I’d legitimately like you to contribute a data point to:

    Say LoK had ended instead with Korra joining a catholic-pastiche convent and becoming the Avatar world equivalent of a nun. Would that change your feelings on the ending? Change them to a positive or a negative?

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