Written a lot about this — Korra and Korrasami with Makorra

I always  critiqued the handling of Korra’s “gender” on how to oppose the soft-spoken supposedly “feminized” Aang she was made physically strong (which I at first loved)  but then shown she was absent/devoid of spirituality. One must also notice that Aang is always talking about “honour”, “justice” and has made multiple libidinous advances towards Katara. Such “honour” and “justice” and sexual/romantic attraction are physical and Aang approaches them with undeniable physicality.  Aang is soft true but his masculinity is always affirmed; in conjunction to that his spirituality and physicality are brought together in positive cohesion. Korra gains hardly any spirituality. Even at Book 4 Korra opening a spirit portal is a physical act not a spiritual one. Aang fought Ozai was an amalgamation of both spirituality and physicality. Aang used the physical to reach a spiritual; Korra may have been using a spiritual type act to make also a physical  act but in my opinion it translates more to the same old physical act.

I did not mind Korra’s emphasis on physicality  but as Aang I wanted her to be emotionally and spiritually secure which was best shown in Book 2 ending fight with Unavaatu. Korra is always overpowered by her physicality. Aang never faced this problem. Aang also used avatar state as recklessly as Korra but was  not so critiqued on it as Korra. Aang at the end of the series is content and “complete”; he is allowed a reprieve. Korra is shown always to be frustrated, sexually and otherwise, she is never really allowed a reprieve. As some fans of Tumblr had noticed Korra’s resolve to learn more was not enthusiastic or energetic; it comes almost as a defeat.

What began as a beautiful  framework for a new series became debilitated at the end — at first I respected Bryke’s decision to make Korra the opposite of Aang. I may not have always admired hot-headed Korra but I respected her. I understood that her teaching additionally being sequestered from society had made her somewhat itching to always be flamboyant and to divulge in childish narcissism. It made very good sense. Her fear of Amon’s sucking out bending was also legitimate; she has grown to believe she is physically very strong yet here a supposed non-bender was doing away bending. However, I found her to be elitist. Korra constantly thinks that benders are the best. This attitude was not subverted even by Book 4. One may argue that as this is not TLA so there need not be repeat performances in LOK concerning the topic of non-benders. True, yet the question has been raised. So,  I would have wanted  that non-benders pick up a fight. Book 1 was pretty much  benders protecting their elitist personalities and ranks not protecting privileges of both benders and nonbenders alike. Korra is challenged by a pretty competent army of non-benders. Korra sees them strategically take over Republic City which no other villain was able to do. Not even Kuvira. It was important that Korra understood the qualms of people in the series such as the nonbenders. It was important that Korra sympathised with them. Korra does not. Rather she does everything Amon states an arrogant bender does. Abuse their powers.

I thought  in Book 1, originally when it premiered,  that  by the end Korra  may have lost her powers but in Book 2 will eventually regain them but also by learning competent non-bending  forms of  fighting such as chakra-blocking. After all Aang for a large  part of TLA Book 1 was competent only in air bending so there is no injustice in making an avatar feel  bereft of their bending. It would have made  Korra understand  that being the avatar is so much more than bending or power which Aang also realizes. These epiphanies may have come in Book 2 to Korra but my  speculations were very soon  extracted and put away somewhere else as Korra regains her powers by some subset of energy bending. Even in Book 4 Korra faces really weird personal reflections which begin very complexly but then are toned down as her spiritual journey gets toned down with conclusions just being juiced up.  Finally ending with a romantic endeavour that pretty much screams fandom service.

With concern to Asami Sato she is a very hopeless character. Instead on focusing on her prowess as inventor and fighter we can see that Asami pretty much is the incompetent-bimbette beauty. This in Book 1, which is meant to  show that non-benders and benders are equals, is more  offending because Asami is the only nonbender at that time in Team Avatar. Always dolled up and first and foremost shown as a socialite. The credit of being an inventor goes to Varrick not to Asami. This is actually quite defeating because Asami is reported to be one of the main characters. I noticed that in most conferences Asami’s voice actress is not really paid attention to. It is quite apparent no one really cares much about Asami as a character. Which is sad. In Book 2 the pathetic way she wheedled out to Mako again not even a week gone by since his breakup with Korra is also stupendously rude writing of her. Asami should be more concerned about her company and also her future role as an inventor. She is her own individual not Mako’s or Korra’s girlfriend alone. Asami is so insignificant that none of her actions matter to people except almost all of the avid fans of Korrasami. Which is telling about this character. Characters like Bolin even Kuvira are able to be seen without a romantic quotient. Asami is not given that right nor even hinted at the luxury of that.

Not to mention Asami  does reprehensibly cruel things at times and no one  finds it objectionable. Like how Varrick attempting to make Asami profit from war in the South Pole by selling her machines. That is pretty morally  hot territory. Asami’s father was profiting from war should Asami just be “daddy’s girl” and do exactly the same things as her father? Should team avatar also  think it reasonable  for Asami to do this? I find it audacious that Korra, Mako and Bolin do not find this  morally unruly dark and white hot territory but appease to it as some sadomasochistic people. Asami treated war as business and that makes her ruthlessly cold for a moment for she doesn’t question it. Defense should obviously be thought of but as the North Pole had already invaded should not there be other pressing matters like  having her company deliver medicine and food to the wounded? Also  then to a certain capacity give machines only as defensive maneuvers? Because Republic City is clearly  not supportive so doing all this may cause more future problems for everyone :/

Asami is a hollow  character, nevertheless, she was a character with much potential thus I feel it is weakening her progress as a character to make her into a love interest again. With Kataraang I did not see only Katara as a love interest. Her character was beautifully poignant, fierce, determined a complementary of both masculine and feminine traits. Even if Asami was to be Korra’s love, even if the decision was sudden, I would have liked more character writing of her in Books 1 and 2 that would validate her role as a character in her own right. Ironically, even Zhu Li and Varrick got this through gestures and unambiguous plans being made. I can understand that sometimes writing a romantic relationship is not an immediate decision; not all books have to be Love in The Time of Cholera or The Perks of Being a Wallflower but you can be sensitive about the growth of a character as a character independent first then move towards relationship cues.

A character does not even need to be so physically strong to be outstanding: Varrick is less stronger than many males and females but his character had some decent exposition. Zhu Li is shown to be more physically capable than him but also efficient and meticulous. Additionally, it was hinted that Zhu Li is an inventor-genius in her own  right who has made it possible for most of Varrick’s ideas to work so they are a dual team. Zhu Li is able to finish and even help make stable the spirit-weapon which Varrick was unable to do thus she is learned and an intellectual/cerebral person. Sure, Bataar helped but it seemed that Bataa oversaw more than actual involvement as he was not necessarily familiar with what Varrick and Zhu Li did.

The tragedy was that even Prince Wu evolved. Asami never did. The sort of emotional and psychological breakdown that Wu had was quite explicit that he is a bit of a symbol, a mirror, to how Korra in the beginning was as well. That like Korra he also felt that his existence and importance was only significant when he became a ruler. We see the genesis of his self-reflection as a spokesperson, a evacuation expert and in the end a person who does not require the monarchy to give him meaning; he is able to be fully his whole, charming self without such public validation. Of course, many people  do not like Wu (personally, I am a bit disinterested in him,  with or without him Book 4 would still have its importances and its flaws), he is just a bit more of a comic relief. Yet, I was wondering, this show introduced Wu at the last Book, understandably, as a successor to the Earth Kingdom, yet I am a bit questioning why no one elected someone of equal merit as Kuvira? From the very start Wu had proved to be more of a radically incapable character and even everyone including Mako felt that Kuvira had brought, initially, a lot of stability and infrastructure to the Earth Kingdom. I would think electing someone of equal merit would be more than crucial now as Wu has done nothing of any socio-economic or socio-political interest to help the Earth Kingdom. Despite all this, in the end, Wu does evolve more than what his initial character was.

In this context, what has Asami done exactly? She did not readily relinquish future industries nor did she care of its demise. She could, as noted by many fans, mourn her father properly. She showed no signs of learning even as Korra did in the spirit world. Her role became that same stringent and closed boundary of love interest. Rather she has lost whatever agency she has gained. A more fitting end for her would be if she decided to travel earth kingdom and fire nation and make designs to help build her city from scratch. It is true that  going on a vacation maybe her thinking of her own needs now but it wasn’t nicely presented. Also, her going in between both physical and spirit worlds would be a better exploration of self for her not this sudden “vacation” for it contributes nothing for her personhood.

If Mako went with Korra it would be more understandable even as a career gesture — he has faced a lot of pressure  being a bodyguard of a future king and has wounded his arm severely. For him a journey to  heal his body in the spirit world would be motive enough to take him along even as a friend. I am not forgetting that Book 4 had made Mako and Bolin strangers. If they wanted us to see it from Korra’s perspective that now Asami is more important for Korrasami and those two have become strangers to her, doesn’t that imply something pretty stingy about Korra as a person? Korra should try to reconnect with both Mako and Boilin as friends; should ask Boilin about his feelings of being betrayed by Kuvira and also the sort of magnetism and energy that Mako had in Books 1 to 3 was made absent here. Mako also accompanies Korra to help people who were attacked by spirit vines furthermore was present in her psychological piecing up next to Zaheer. Those are very crucial to her personhood so why make Asami absent there? The execution of Korrasami was built-up as though it was some bad memory. In a recent fanart I saw Korra and Asami share rooms, that is semi implicative, in actual Book 3 Zhao Fu Korra and Asami shared no such lodgings. Asami showed less concern than Mako and Bolin that Korra was being kidnapped. Her only major signs of concern is when Korra was dying and when she was  in a wheelchair. That is not enough. Asami’s character is written as though she is ambivalently juggling roles not being multifarious.

I think the most nice scene of Korrasami is in Book 4 when Asami tells Korra not to listen to her naysayers (while bringing her tea which was the only good symbolistic thing to show some evolution as Book 1 Asami had denied giving Korra tea).  If those sorts of scenes repeated it would be beautiful. In fact Makorra had nice scenes like that all the time in Book 1 and Book  2 and even Books 3 and Book 4 . Their breakup in Book 2 felt morte coerced because it felt that they were being childishly fighting for no reason. Even after amnesia Korra strongly feels for Mako and in multiple times in Book 3 shows a lot of concern for him which is romantically executed; mutually exposed. Some other fans had put up this analysis and I agree that Asami’s romantic feelings for Korra (no matter their hodge-podge development) was stronger than what Korra felt. So, in the end Korra concedes in something she  actually shouldn’t. Which is more sad because  Asami is now a psychological wreck losing all that she worked for in a few years in the city and losing her father. This ending doesn’t do her justice at all.

A confident, strong person, whether man or woman, should not concede so easily to any such relationship. The magnetism and chemistry of Makorra was at times subtle but so fluid that both parties actively desired and loved one another. They wanted to show, the concept was excellent though its execution raw in lacking, is that Korrasami is more “balanced” or “calm” than the tempestuous Makorra. Well, in theory, that does charge a balance but truthfully the tempestuousness of Makorra in Book 2 was forced. In all books they have had their calm moments. So, without some intellectual or emotional evidence  it seems unsatisfactory that Makorra can’t happen even in Book 2. A better ending for them would have been if Korra said that she feels that Mako cannot understand her as a person and avatar (which ironically he does understand her more so than Asami and respects her fully as person and avatar) thus she must leave. This could have been done with Mako ignoring Korra as a person or only treating her as avatar (which actually Asami does).

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8 thoughts on “Written a lot about this — Korra and Korrasami with Makorra

    1. Why can’t you stand them? They are pretty natural. And if you are being sarcastic to me that’s not funny. I am pretty much into many gay/queer pairings in media. I didn’t like how Korrasami was written but I didn’t like many things about LOK that I actually did write before on this blog. Have my opinions changed? No. But now I am enthusiastic to read Korrasami in the comics. I REALLY wanna see the pairing fleshed out. I find it pretty funny you would call yourself Asami because Asami is confirmed bisexual/queer. But if you are being serious being gay/queer is pretty natural. Having queer/gay/SGA/homoerotic feelings are pretty natural no matter how you identify yourself. Do you have issues with yourself? Why do you hate media like that and can’t stand them? Hopefully, you do not gay/queer people in real life. That is just hate. Hate comes from ignorance. I have seen ignorant people do ignorant things. But ignorance is not genetic. Talk to a counselor. Read materials. Make yourself more aware. Don’t be a homophobic/queerphobic person. Trust me putting down others is not the way. Queerness, of any type, is not a threat to anyone and if you have been taught that then you have been hanging out with bigots. Don’t be a bigot like them.

  1. Thank you so much for articulating this! I absolutely hate it when (typically heterosexual) writers shoehorn shallow, heteronormative, stereotyped or unhealthy LGBT relationships to signal their virtue (Once Upon a Time is hugely guilty of this by crack pairing Red Riding Hood/Dorothy Gale in one episode and then writing them out of the show, despite the Philip/Aurora/Mulan and Swan/Queen relationships being far more popular and developed) or appeal to disgusting yaoi fangirl fetishes (the boy/boy relationships in Dragon Age and Mass Effect suffer a terrible case of this, and the straight relationships are even worse because all the love interests need psychiatric help). There’s throwing a bone and then there’s being completely tone-deaf to basic human psychology, nevermind politics and media influence.

    At least when Joss Whedon killed Tara it followed the previously established rule of the series that every single relationship eventually falls apart. Except, oddly enough, Angel and Spike (at least one interview confirmed they were lovers in the past, they’ve both died and gone crazy multiple times, and they have a pathological ambiguously platonic love/hate relationship).

    1. I am happy that I got to articulate this. Though I know by no means my views and understanding are a popular one. We are age driving by policies and social etiquette not really emotion, rationale and logic. That is why our passions tend to get flimsy and our romances cheap rhetoric. I do not care that there are yaoi fetishes. Yaoi can help straight and queer women alike and it has. I liked many yaoi, if not all, for similar reasons. Men’s sexualities in terms of aggression, passion and assertiveness is given more credence and acknowledged than anything. Lesbianism or bisexual women in mainstream narratives are meant to titillate the straight, usually White, man. For women, imagining a gay/bi-male relationship sometimes offer many possibilities especially when lesbianism is considered scopophilic and been fetishised so much. Also being “male” or reading through a male lens can be empowering for some people feeling the same social double standards and coercive practices put on women will not be put on men. This is more or less, to an extent true.

      However, this does not mean I support ever yaoi portrayal on TV and I notice anime fanservice nowadays are pandering to fans rather than actually working on a narrative that seems realistic and plausible. By entering queer representation as such the shows make the queerness another form of “entertainment”, a theatrical display of drama that is meant to work as some perverse catharsis. Eve Sedgwick Kosofsky had already articulated that if queer relationships are harmed by their absence in media and discourse then straight relationships are equally, or more or less, hurt the same way by having grand narratives such as Romance Archetypes/Stereotypes, History and how Love is constructed. Overexposing the heteronormative matrix/gender normative matrix in both straight and queer relations equally so (in one way or another) actually hurts our sense of self. Most animes do this too. I was lucky to see many without it but that does not mean there aren’t stupid animes like there, such as “Highschool of the Dead”, to show nothing aside cheap sexual kicks that make no sense and characters as flaccid (all puns intended) as a squishy debacle.

      Thank You for taking the time to read my work.

      1. I did not mean to imply that I had a problem with male/male relationships. I have a problem with Japan: it is most definitely not LGBT friendly (gay marriage isn’t legal, there’s no legal protection against hate crimes, no politician wants to touch this with a ten foot pole) and this is reflected in their media. The Japanese genres of Boys Love, Girls Love and so forth typically never portray realistic relationships and rely on silly stereotypes like “all relationships exhibit a masculine/feminine dynamic”, “it’s a phase they will grow out of”, “everyone is straight yet bi-curious.”

        I totally agree with your critique of romance writing in general. The reason why, say, SwanQueen is so popular with fans (of any sexuality) is because Swan and Regina were written as characters with their own quirks and foibles, who are complex enough that they don’t fit into traditional gender molds, and who aren’t defined by their endless cycle of dying boyfriends. All too often relationships in general, much less gay relationships, are written to fulfill media’s unhealthy obsession with romance (or worse, a diversity quota) and forget that characters need to be interesting and complex outside of their romantic relationships.

        Every relationship in Bioware games is awful. The straight relationships feel forced or end badly, the gay relationships are loaded with stereotypes, and every single love interest has severe psychological issues that they never receive treatment for and which present a danger to themselves and others. These are not healthy relationships!

      2. Of course, I know that you did not mean you don’t like male/male relationships. Well, yes, that is not only for yaoi genre but it is also for romance het genre as well. There are problematic dynamic in those shows that do make me unhappy. I don’t know much about bioware games to really comment about but I liked the queer relationships of Fallout 4 as whether you play Nora or Nate and whether you are having a relationship with a guy or girl the story is the same and means a lot. I think the “everyone is straight bi-curious” trope happens because people can call themselves straight but in modern times they do exhibit a lot of queer attitudes. Yes, the trope is comical but it is also based on some realism. I think many shows have fanserive. It is hard to write actual romance of both het and queer quality because it will not always be aesthetically pretty and will have ugly truths in it and also people aren’t perfect and will have flaws, foibles and make mistakes but most people wanna zone that out when watching media. I can understand that but true representation is hard to write when you want only the frills and not the flesh.

      3. The blog “kissmyanime.wordpress.com” has a more articulate tackle of the subject of Japanese media (including Boys Love/Girls Love) being politically incorrect. I feel my flailing attempts to explain it would only mangle the message.

        In my experience the term “fanservice” most commonly refers to risque content like jiggle physics and skimpy clothing. I think what you mean is “pandering”. Pandering more accurately refers to things like the Korrasami debacle, where writers signal their progressive political views in a way that exploits and marginalizes gay rights.

        Retconning Korra to bi or gay after already intending her to be straight isn’t just an example of the show’s already bad handling of relationships, budget cuts, etc getting that much worse. It might have turned the Avatar world into a fantasy ideal where gay relationships are so normalized as to be unworthy of comment by Korra. Korra, who is a messianic figure raised in a convent in a world styled after an Industrial Age China. A nation which in the real world was extremely conservative and heteronormative.

        What are we supposed to take away from this? I wish we could just write in gay relationships as easily as we right straight ones and without resorting to tired stereotypes. Homophobia, as it pains me to admit, is alive and well everywhere today and media is clinically proven to affect people’s beliefs. An ending that boils down to a vague “two girls love each other” message (much less two boys, non-cis, etc) isn’t going to magically make homophobes disappear or convince anyone to question their social constructs. Is the Avatar world a fantasy ideal free of homophobia or will Korra and Asami have to conceal their relationship from their friends and family? Is Korra sexually fluid or transgender because she has vague memories of being (and having sex as) a man and a father? Will the nonexistent sequel explore that I wonder? This could have been an excellent opportunity to deconstruct the concepts of sex and gender, but instead we got “look at me I’m so progressive” subtext that most of the audience missed.

        What irks me about this is that the progressive media codones Bryke’s behavior rather than demanding better writing. There are a lot of constructive ways that media could tackle the subject of convincing people to stop being heterosexist and to assuage the alienation experienced by non-straight non-cis teens. Did we learn nothing from the baby steps on Touched by an Angel or Glee? Writers who are bad at relationships in general, script changes, budget cuts, and censorship are not a constructive way to tackle this. I totally support Korrasami in the abstract but I hate the writers and producers for strangling it.

      4. This is an excellent answer filled with rich analyses. My good friend, if I may call you, I completely love you reply. I do not always think that immanently BL or GL is non-PC as in the convoluted politics of PC Korrasami/KS/KA is also pretty “progressive” but that is another topic. I do agree that BL and GL can be, as het romances, as harmful and gender normative/heteronormative. Even in the abstract Korrasami feels dull. It is a fanservice crack ship that became canon. There are many types of fanservice and one is just “giving fans what they want” in the modt basic and reductionist level. To me most cultures are heteronormative not heterosexual as heterosexist can be taken at times in a “positive” light. The fact is even if there was no problems in the Avatar world in queer relationships, as apparently Kaya is also queer, it just does not happen. Like Makorra did not just happen. Korra was also pretty demisexual and gender queer and she was already queer. Making her in a femslash relationship without any background between the two characters is literally fanservice and pleasing straight, cis men. Korrasami feels forced and written for them. Bryke’s “hetero lens” comment was unethical as it gave ammunition to trolls and bullies alike to give patronizing lectures to MK people and people in general who disliked Korrasami. It also pushed aside the queer people who actually disliked Korrasami. There is going to be a comic soon and it just seems to be a cash grabber though I hope it delineates fairly Korra and Asami though I doubt it. Korra was already queer; she was non-gender normative, interested in one person and she was very apolitical in some stances. She did not need a relationship with a stranger to validate her queerness.

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