"i’m the original beifong!"
…what about your parents?
Everyone seems to be talking about how “Toph is exactly who Korra needs”, and I’m honestly kind of shocked that nobody is really seeing what I am seeing. I honestly think that everyone has it backwards.
What if it’s actually Toph who needs Korra?
Let’s take a look at what we’ve seen of her so far. She’s secluded in a swamp, and hasn’t had much meaningful human contact for several years.
Furthermore, 90% of the time, all Toph seemed to talk about was herself. Well, okay. This is not much different from her younger self that the fandom has grown to love. We even get a kick out of it, really. After all, Toph has always been very self-centered. She had to be. It’s what allowed her to become a great earthbender in the first place, and one of the reasons she won our hearts years ago.
But I’m sure I’m not the only one who realizes that she’s never really talked about herself this much in such a short span of time. I see several people passing off what she has said as purposeful exaggeration in order to help Korra, but that is not why she is doing this. It may or may not result in improvement for Korra, but it is not, in my opinion, her motivation at all. Toph has been acting rough for the very same reason she always has: it’s her way of rebelling and running away from the restrictions of responsibility. Namely, her family.
Read on and I will explain.
wyszło słabe, no ale już trudno
i just imagine wu finding out about mako’s childhood on the street, and him increasing his sharing and gifts to try and make up for it even if he can’t understand
When I first found out about Korra being out of whack because she still had some poison in her, I was pretty disappointed.
It felt almost like cheapening her and mental trauma in general, to say that hey, there’s an easy, magical way out, that all her troubles are because there is a tangible, physical object inside of her causing all her problems and if she just gets it out she’ll be insta fixed! It’s a harsh truth that when it comes to mental illness and trauma, there is no magic bullet cure, so i was pretty down about the idea that for Korra, all she had to do was follow some spirits into a magical swamp to meet a guru witch who would snap her fingers and put humpty dumpty back together.
But then, the show surprised me! Again! I’m still not super super sold on the idea that it was the poison all along still inside fucking her up, but the concept that it is HER that needs to remove it, that she might be unconsciously shying away from recovery as a coping, defensive mechanism to stay hurt so that she can avoid more pain and hurt really spoke to me. That’s something that people irl really do have to overcome - that issue that your own mental state is kind of aligned against your own best interests because it’s trying to avoid more damage, that your psyche and unconscious mind are playing a big role in your recovery, or lack of it.
Sure, Korra now has remnants of the poison in herself she needs to fight - but she always still needs to deal with her mental trauma, because they go hand in hand, they don’t cancel each other out. It went from the tired and bad cliche of “magic cures all ails!” to the infinitely better “using a magical surrounding yet still illustrating realistic reactions and recovery to trauma” trope, and that’s why the Legend of Korra is one of the best shows on television, without a doubt.
I was pretty surprised by the continued existence of the poison, but I never really thought they were going to use it to magic away Korra’s psychological struggles. Having her need to take it out herself hit a really good balance there, but I never really doubted that that was what they were going for.
The poison, I think, is meant to address the physical and spiritual side of Korra’s current state. On a physical level, obviously, there’s no time for a realistic fix; Korra needs to be in fighting shape very quickly for the show to function properly. And, on a spiritual level, there’s still the issue of Dark Avatar Korra to resolve. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if the reason why the “hallucination” can affect the physical world (even if other people can’t see it) is because the Avatar Spirit itself is still poisoned.
Of course, if that’s the case, the physical and spiritual sides of things are still contingent on Korra overcoming her mental struggles, so having a “magic” intermediary doesn’t really weaken the conflict there.
Well, it’s tough for a show oriented toward the younger crowd to do a whole character arc on depression and PTSD. I mean, that’s CLEARLY what Korra’s arc is about, but they are handling with metaphors rather than putting Korra in a therapist’s office. And in my opinion, they’re pretty deft metaphors. Dark Avatar Korra is an externalized representation of Korra’s shame and fear. The poison is the a remnant of illness that her body is holding onto. Both of them are really neat ways of showing how mental illness operates outside of our conscious control or ability to simply will ourselves back to health even though so much of the success of the recovery does depend on the person who is suffering. It’s a tough paradox that anyone who has struggled with this sort of thing can relate to.
Yeah, the show kind of has to rely on metaphor and allegory to keep audience interest… but it’s been handling that really well so far.
I can’t wait to see how they portray recovery within the allegorical framework they’ve created. (I know there’s speculation that Kuvira would use the metal inside Korra to control her, but I think that would break the metaphor in ways that I don’t want to see. The real question in my mind is one of timing — is Korra going to move past the most difficult part of her recovery early on and spend the rest of the season building herself back up, or is it going to be left unresolved until the finale?)
problem: all types of love being coded/read as romantic
also a problem: romantically-coded behaviors between girls/women being read as platonic
[Broken mirrors and hallucinations]
I’m surprised no one has made this parallel already, honestly.
Everyone’s been so focused on the obvious Zuko comparisons that I feel like the similarities between Korra and another member of the Fire Nation royal family have been ignored. After all, as far as broken mirrors and broken psyches are concerned, Azula is the first thing that comes to my mind.
Speaking of Azula, her hallucinations are, I think, our best precedent for what Korra’s going through now.
What’s interesting to note about Azula’s hallucinations is that they represented a truth about Azula that she had been denying — Ursa really did love her, and Azula needed that love. Of course, Azula couldn’t accept that; that’s why her psyche split in the first place.
If something similar is going on with Korra, then, there’s something deeper going on than just her being afraid of her Avatar identity. And, considering the hallucination’s actions — the Avatar State chains Korra up and tries to destroy her — it’s easy to create a suitable alternate explanation.
Like Azula, Korra’s temperament was almost perfectly suited for the role she was trained to fill. Both girls seized upon their roles gladly, denying the parts of themselves that didn’t fit in the process. For Azula, who was raised to believe that fear was the only reliable way to interact with others, that was her need for love. For Korra, who was raised to believe that the Avatar came before her own needs, that was likely her desire for freedom and her sense of self-preservation.
So, when Korra’s psyche creates an image of the Avatar State chaining her and trying to kill her, it could be intended to reflect her split-off and denied recognition that being raised as the Avatar had demanded sacrifices that she would rather not have made. It’s not that she doesn’t want to be the Avatar anymore so much as that she’s being forced to confront the downsides to being the Avatar that she’d denied for too long, and they’ve taken a monstrous and terrifying shape due to her previous refusal to allow them into her conscious mind.
And, if that’s the case, I think the only way for Korra to deal with the hallucinations is to accept that she’d been wronged, that what the world demanded of her had been unfair. Only by accepting the split-off part of herself can Korra repair her shattered psyche. =(
(First image borrowed from AvatarSpirit.Net)
Wow that bolded part is so so so important and I sort of doubt that is where they are going but I hope they go there.
i’m all for using the tag “airbender girlfriends” tbh
btw, anon is referring to these two:
let’s make it happen
So so much Anon.
First, the romantic drama would be non-existent. None whatsoever. No Borra, Masami, Makorra, Boleska, Bolin/Ginger. Just nope to all the teenage couples.
Second, to supplement the space left by the romantic drama from hell, the villains would have far better backstories. They would be the morally gray characters I wanted from the get go. Amon’s backstory turns out to be true (which would tie in nicely with Book 2’s theme). Or he tells the Equalists the truth from the beginning. Or Amon turns out to be Bumi II (neglected non-bender son of the Avatar taking bending away from his father’s reincarnation? Yes please!). In Book 2, Unalaq explains how him and Vaatu ended up in cahoots and we find out his concerns are legit.
Third, more time for the main characters to react to the big boss showdowns. An episode about Korra’s lost identity once Amon took her bending away. Having Lin, Tenzin and Korra having parallel identity crises could have been well done. Korra spending more than 2 seconds deciding to keep the spirit portals open.
Fourth, Katara having a prominent role in Book 2.
Fifth, a mention of Suki. It’s fine that she’s dead, but at least tell me she retired on Kyoshi Island or wrote a book or helped with Zaofu or SOMETHING.
Sixth, a relatable Equalist supporter. The Equalists had legitimate concerns and I think having an Equalist (or former Equalist) break it down to Korra would have really helped. The audience (and Korra) would have seen that the Equalists were extreme, but that non-bender oppression was very real and a cause for concern. Maybe Asami, Pema or Bumi could have chimed in as well about the non-bender oppression.
Seventh, more agency and happiness for Asami in Book 2. A plot that she is actually in charge of. More scenes with her actively engineering.
Eighth, Korra and Asami being friends much earlier on. The Korrasami shipper in me basically wants them to be lovers from the start, but even just the two of them having some pleasant scenes together in Books 1 and 2 would have been nice.
Ninth, allusions to large plot points. A mention of Su. Showing Jinora’s spiritual connection. A joke about Vaatu/Harmonic Convergence.
Tenth, not have Unalaq and Tonraq be brothers. It felt so overdone. Maybe Senna was the banished princess or Tonraq was an escaped soldier or Senna and Tonraq really were an average couple who gave birth to the Avatar. But the retconning of Tonraq really threw me off and I still don’t like that Korra is now a princess.