Hello again, Avatar Wiki! It’s Raiden again, on a slightly more serious tone.
Anyways, I already commented about this on TophsFanboy’s message wall. But I decided to make an official blog about it to truly vent my feelings about it, and get some answers from the fanbase. Anyway, about a month ago, after rewatching a few episodes of the original ATLA, (primarily the Avatar and the Firelord) and the “Escape from the Spirit world” online comic. I realized, there is a problem with the ATLA universe and sadly it’s kind of a big one, the problem with the Avatar universe is. . . THE AVATAR. --
Now before you go typing hate comments, promise you'll keep reading to the end before you do.
According to what was established in the first series, the Avatar was created by whatever forces govern the ATLA universe, to keep a balance between the Four Nations, that is to keep them separate and keep mankind at peace with each other and in relative harmony with nature and the Spirit World. According to what the spirit of Avatar Roku told Jeong-Jeong in “The Deserter” the Avatar Spirit managed to keep this up for “. . .a thousand times in a thousand life times. . .”.
But here’s where the issue (or rather MY issue) with the Avatar lies, what happens when the all powerful demigod that has been given the divine right to do whatever is necessary to keep the world at peace, REFUSES to do whatever is necessary, but morally objectionable, to keep the world at peace and the balance of the four nations intact, and instead COMPROMISED? I’ll tell you what happens, THIS happens. Here is a list of major mistakes the Avatar made over the course of its past several incarnations that meant dire consequences for the world they were meant to protect. I skipped Kuruk, because aside from his incident with Ummi and Koh, we don’t know too much about him. Keep in mind, I'm not bashing the Avatar, this blog has a purpose, keep reading to the end and you'll find out what it is.
Things the Avatar REFUSED to do to keep the balance, and Instead COMPROMISED, which led to dire CONSEQUENCES for the rest of the world. ---
REFUSED to do what was morally objectionable (killing the Tyrant Earth King) but necessary (to fufill the needs of the Peasants suffering under his regime). Instead of uniting with the Earth Kingdom Peasants against the corrupt Earth King, she COMPROMISED with the Earth King and created the Dai-li with the power and authority to protect “Earth Kingdom Traditions”. She didn’t realize that by giving a group with that much power, the ability to define “Earth Kingdom Tradition” she essentially created a group of power hungry secret police.
CONSEQUENCES: The Dai-Li became the most corrupt tyrannical regime in the history of the world, eventually selling out the Earth kingdom traditions they had sworn to protect, to the genocidal (both cultural and physical) Fire Nation Regime.
REFUSED to do what was necessary (killing Sozin) but morally objectionable (He was his best friend at one point), and instead COMPROMISED(let him live under threat of death by Avatar).
CONSEQUENCES: Roku was betrayed by Sozin, and left to die on a volcanic Island. Sozin took advantage of this, caused 100 years of death, misery, and suffering, Genocided the Air Nomad culture, imprisoned thousands of innocent water benders in Austwitcz-style prison camps, Imprisoned an equal number of Earthbenders on Coal Mine Prison barges, and all but permanently upset the balance of the four nations that the Avatar had protected for a thousand lifetimes.
For all the good he’s done (ending the Hundred Year War, redeeming Zuko, saving the Air Nomads from extinction) Aang’s refusal to do what was necessary but objectionable, caused many problems for both himself and his future incarnation Korra down the road. I’ll put them in list format for convenience.
- Abandoned his people
CONSEQUENCES: Aangs refusal to accept his identity as the Avatar, despite losing his father figure Gyatso, made him leave and get trapped in that Iceberg. If he had stayed the Avatar state could have turned the tide and prevented the Air Nomad genocide.
- Refused to Kill Ozai
CONSEQUENCES: Aangs refusal to kill Ozai, eventually led to Zuko turning to him for guidance in The Promise Trilogy, and Ozai manipulating him from behind bars.
- Compromised with Zuko on the issue of the Fire Nation Colonies:
CONSEQUENCES: Aang’s refusal to do what was morally wrong (expel the Fire Nation colonists, split mixed families up, mass exodus of colonists to the Fire Nation), but necessary (to fulfill his Avatar duties, to restore the balance of the Four Nations that had been the status quo for untold millennia). Led to the creation of Republic City. You may think that was a good thing, but as the issues in the Legend of Korra will attest to, it really wasn’t. People in LOK have lost their connection to both Nature the Spirit World, bending has gone from a respectable art of self defense to a perversion of its intended purpose in probending, the industrial revolution is poisoning the environment (which the avatar is supposed to keep man in balance with), and leading to an ever increasing social divide between benders and non benders.
- Refused to Kill Yakone:
This led to him eventually escaping from prison, which led to the birth of Noatok, better known by his alias Amon. Need I say anything else? The Equalist revolution, the terrorizing, imprisonment, and neutering of innocent (for the most part) benders, the battle for Republic City (which I’m sure caused at least a few hundred deaths) were all caused because Aang didn't have the Cahones to do the job.
Have you read this far? Good, heres my point. Like I said, EVERY issue the ATLA world has dealt with, and is dealing with is the result of the Avatar’s Mercy, good intentions, benign neglect, and/or outright refusal to fufill his/her duties being taken advantage of. This, in my book is not exactly a very good message to put in a Y7 show. From what I picked up as I watched the show and read the comics was a rather negative mesage, given all the times the Avatar was taken advantage of for his/her mercy, the message it appears to be sending to the audience is that you should never be merciful because in the end someone will take advantage of your mercy to hurt you and the ones you love. This isn’t something that my overanalyzing adult mind picked up, I thought this as a kid! The creators made a huge mistake in that department! It may have been accidental on the part of the creators, but man does it put a damper on the experience (for me at least). I would expect a message like this to happen in something aimed at adults, like Game of Thrones, or the Fable video game franchise, but not a Nickelodeon show aimed at a Y7 audience.I understand Bryke is trying to make their mythology as serious and adult as possible while still relating to kids, but making every single act of mercy the friggin’ JESUS CHRIST of their fantasy world does come back to hurt their next incarnation, and harm the world they're supposed to protect isn’t exactly portraying mercy and forgiveness in a positive light. For me at least.
Anyway... what do you guys think? Am I just overanalyzing or do you feel the same way I do about this?