I'm noticing a recurring pattern in the Airbender fanbase lately. A rift, a division, a great divide in the Airbender Fanbase. Some people tend to accept and love Legend of Korra despite it's flaws, while others condemn it and say it is a betrayal of everything the original series stood for. Have you noticed that whenever something Good about Legend of Korra is mentioned on the wiki, this, this and this are brought up. But whenever anything Bad about Legend of Korra is mentioned, this, this, and THIS are brought up?
Listen, fellow ATLA and LOK fans, I feel your pain. I don't agree with some of the changes made to the Airbender-verse in Korra, but for the most part I can let that pass, and I see the fanbase crying over cosmetic changes, and a few plot holes in THE FIRST SEASON just a bit childish and pedantic.
I'm personally more of a casual fan, I'm able to see the good in a product even if it is immensely flawed, such as the Production value, The Animation, the Characters, The Philosophy etc. . Regardless of it's flaws, I still find the series to be a very entertaining, very well done (for the most part), artistic piece of escapist Fantasy entertainment. But why does it seem that some cannot see all the good in the series? True the finale was a bit of a rushed conclusion to a muddled first season, True quite a bit of the Technology and wardrobe is a bit out of place in a world based on Asian Myth and Religion, True Mako and Korra's Romance was rushed and uninteresting. But I don't think that will hurt the show in the long run, especially when given three more seasons to make up for it. I'm not saying the fanbase should ignore a film, Book, TV Shows, or multimedia franchises flaws.
What I am saying that one shouldn't let said flaws keep one from enjoying an otherwise good product. Much less turn into an Angry Internet Hate Troll, raging against the creators. (unless the product in and of itself is so bad and lacking any real redeemable value that it deserves to be raged against, like the Live Action Film.)
Anyway, what does all this rambling have to do with Legend Of Korra? Well, since season 2 is coming out in less than Two months, (and people are likely going to be holding it to unreasonably high expectations, and be disappointed and Angry at Bryan and Michael when those expectations are not met) I felt it only fair to give my two cents on the situation.
In this Blog, I am going to be discussing the top five reasons why I personally support the series, and I believe others should as well. Why I feel it is important, why it deserves your support, and why I believe certain fans unable to take off the Nostalgia Goggles and appreciate the series on its own merits should STOP HATING THE SERIES AND SUPPORT IT! Here are the Top Five Reasons why Fans and Haters alike should support Korra, and why you should tell other people to support Korra. Despite it's flaws.
1. Leading By Example: It's Still The Best Cartoon On Television
In a world where good cartoons are almost consistently cancelled before their time (Invader Zim, Thundercats, Symbionic Titan, Spectacular Spider-Man) in favor of easy to produce, easy to animate, easy to market, guaranteed to turn a profit childish shows such as Spongebob and Adventure Time, it's nice to know that there is at least one show willing to stand against that tide. For better or worse, that show is Legend Of Korra.
Hand Drawn animation is being phased out in favor of Adobe Flash and CGI, but Legend Of Korra is still animated traditionally. Most cartoons are being made for either the Y7 crowd or the MA adult Man-child comedy crowd, but Legend Of Korra has something for people of all ages.
Let's face it, even moderately good family entertainment is hard to find, especially among animated television shows. But If we (and our families) show enough support for Korra, if it becomes popular enough, then eventually Nickelodeon and other networks will have to take notice and start producing more sophisticated programming and less childish material and crass comedies. In short, what is good for Korra is good for future cartoons and family entertainment in general. Even if you do not like Legend Of Korra, can you at least pretend to support it so we can get better animated shows for all of us to enjoy in the future? Heck, Korra beat Family Guy in the ratings! Nickelodeon has already mentioned that they might even replace Spongebob with Legend Of Korra as their flagship series! So why hate the series? If it can displace the bad shows, and encourage the networks to replace them with good ones, if it can be the spark that starts the fires of revolution, then there is more reason to support it than to tear it down.
2. A Flagship For Equality: It's Still The Last Best Hope For Diversity In Entertainment
Legend Of Korra is literally the only television show (animated or otherwise) in modern mainstream entertainment to feature People of Color in strong, lead, heroic,l roles (even if the majority of the voice cast is white). While other Television shows and movies usually favor white leads, even in adaptations of franchises, and creative works where the characters were not originally white (Hunger Games, Game Of Thrones, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Iron Man III, and the upcoming 47 Ronin).
As a white guy myself, I find this trend of whitewashing disturbing. Not to mention what it implies about the preferences of American audiences and the studio system. But it's also the primary reason I want people to continue to support Korra. If Korra is successful, and I mean phenomenally successful, then maybe Nick and other studios will take a hint, and finally realize that Fans and Consumers do care about diversity in modern entertainment, and start making more shows and movies with Characters of Color in lead roles. But on the opposite side of the coin, if Korra fails, if it is cancelled before it's time, if it loses both viewers and ratings, then studios will likely continue to play it close to the chest, and continue to whitewash roles for people of color for years into the foreseeable future. I'm not playing the race card here, attempting to push a political agenda, or implying that the Airbender fanbase is biased for Supporting ATLA but not supporting Legend Of Korra. I'm just putting this here to express one of the reasons I feel the Franchise is important. Even if you do not like the show, can you at least pretend to support it for the sake of Diversity in Hollywood?
3. It Will Get Better: Bryan And Mike Learn From Their MistakesIn the first series Bryan and Michael only wrote and directed several episodes for each season while their creative crew aided in writing and directing most of other episodes. But for Season One of Legend of Korra they wrote and charted out every episode by themselves, with little input from anyone else on their creative team. As you can probably guess, the story suffered from it. As many sequels and spinoffs tend to do when a director or producer gets too much creative control. The works of George Lucas, M. Night Shyamalan, and (to a lesser extent) Tim Burton are good examples of a creators work degrading as he gets more and more creative control and less people are willing to criticize him or his vision.
Fortunately, unlike the previously mentioned offendors, it appears Bryan and Michael care more about their fans and telling a decent story than their ego, and are willing to accept they made a few missteps and got a bit too ambitious in Season One. So they decided to bring in several more writers and directors to help with the workload, including Tim Hedrick, who wrote some of the best episodes in the series, including The Swamp (and the webseries Republic City Hustle).
Having a few more brains at the writing table will certainly help matters, at the very least it will mean less continuity issues, and more realistic characterization.I want to say I have faith in Bryan and Mike, faith that seasons Two Thru Four make up for the mistakes of season One. Keep up with the show, it will get better.
4.Nickelodeon's Animation Division: Aang And Korra On The Big Screen
When I went to the Legend of Korra Season 2 panel at Comic-Con. I was so happy to see Legend of Korra on a Big Theater Screen for the first time in my life. . . it took me back. I felt I was watching Aladdin or Lion King for the first time, it was so good to see a hand drawn sophisticated cartoon on the big screen again. Now more than ever, I want Nickelodeon to make that full-length hand drawn Legend Of Korra Spin-off movie thats in development limbo. Korra is definitely best enjoyed in a big theater, on a big screen with a big sound system. Seeing Korra on the big screen made me cry tears of joy!
As most of you know, Nickelodeon's Animation Division optioned an animated Korra film roughly a year ago. Although Bryan and Michael stated they would love to produce and/or direct a theatrical Korra film, there was and apparently still is nothing in development since they were still occupied with the series. So any plans they have for a big Screen Korra spin-off are collecting dust on the shelf for the foreseeable future.
Having said that, if the series is popular enough, if it garners enough fans and ratings. Bryan and Mike may get to produce an animated feature-length theatrical ATLA/LOK film a few years down the line! We all want the series to be done justice in a theatrical feature film, and if done right it could turn the franchise on to a much wider demographic besides its Y7 target audience.
Bryan and Michael could tell an original story featuring Characters from both shows! Or better yet adapt one of the comic books Dark Horse has been publishing like the Promise, The Search, or The Rift! (The first two of which were originally conceived as movies anyway, so it would only make sense.) We could finally see Aang and Company on the big screen in a interquel between the two series, see the future of the Airbender-verse after Korra, or a prequel that expands upon the origin of the Airbender-Verse, etc. But any of these possibilities will likely only come to be if Legend of Korra is successful, and it needs every person it can get to join the KorrArmy for it to come to be.
5. The Franchise NEEDS This: Life After M. Night
We ALL know what happened three years ago. Nickelodeon movies, Paramount Pictures, Frank Marshall, and the fallen morningstar of the Hollywood elite himself, M. Night Shyamalan thought it would be a great Idea to adapt the first season on Avatar: The Last Airbender into a two hour live action film. At first many of us were excited, and who could blame us? We though we were going to see Aang and Katara on the big screen, we thought we were going to see the bending arts and fight scenes in the series being taken up to eleven with excellent special effects, we thought we were going to see the glory and beauty of Asian culture being allowed to flourish in live action, we thought we were going to see all the drama and humor from the series being made even better when freed from the restraints of a Y7 rating! We were all pleased as punch.
Keep in mind, I didn't actually see the film in the theatre, I was already biased against it because of the whitewashing of the Asian/Inuit-inspired characters. The negative reviews and opinions surrounding it were simply the final nail in the coffin for me, so I decided to avoid it altogether. I saw it on TV about a year later. It wasn't as bad as the reviews said it was, it was WORSE. (I've stated my opinion on it before, so there is no reason to repeat myself here.) The entire franchises reputation took a punch following the Shyamalan Adaptation. So when Bryan and Mike came around about a year later and said they were going to make a sequel to the original series, I was a bit iffy. But at that point, even if it was mediocre it couldn't be any worse than the live action film.
When Korra came out, I was friggin hooked! The animation was slick and fluid, most of the new characters were interesting and likeable, I loved the Equalists, the new (mostly) original visual take on steampunk, the incredible new fusion between 1920's Chicago/Hong Kong and Traditional Asian culture and music. With the exception of the rushed finale and a few clunker plot points (the dumb romance, the Triads, pro-bending, the ridiculous Mech Tanks, and Meelo). I felt the first season was an excellent, if flawed, addition to the Airbender mythos. But then I began to read a lot of the criticisms of the series on Avatar Wiki, Kotaku, and IGN. Many of the above elements I mentioned were what alienated the fans of the original series, some opposed a fantasy world going through any kind of an industrial revolution, some object to the Airbender-verse becoming overtly Americanized, still others saw the flaws in the story as too big to ignore.
But what would you rather have? Would you rather have Shyamalan's film, one of the worst film adaptations ever made, be the capstone on the franchises Legacy? Or would you rather have the franchise continue with Legend of Korra, an ambitious, artistic, diverse, original (if flawed) addition to the Airbender franchise? In all honesty, I just want the franchise to move on. If we continue to obsess and refuse to let go of past mistakes, how can we hope to make any kind of progress towards the future?
All joking, ranting, and fanboy-rage aside. When it comes to an entertaining piece of fiction, (at least for me) it should be about the journey, and the experiences we gain and lessons we learn from travelling on the road with the characters, not necessarily the destination. Furthermore Korra's Journey isn't over yet. The characters still have a long way to go, and I personally feel it is quite a bit unfair to condemn the series as a whole just because of a few mistakes both the characters in their world and the creators in ours have made. Especially when the series still has a lot going for it in many ways.
Enjoy the series for what it's worth. After all it's only entertainment!
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