Monday, June 25, 2012

Random Thoughts AMONday

Random Thoughts AMON-day

Probably the most random thought I had this weekend was "I sure hope in the Avatar's world's future, Amon gets put on a T-shirt for rebellious teens to wear."

Then I realize I'm taking a cartoon too seriously. I mean, I did just write a piece on The Legend of Korra the other day when the episodes came out. But hey, maybe there's something to the political commentary that a Nick cartoon has to instil on our youth today.

Let's face it, Amon is entirely a well-characterized figure in the show. The show made it clear on why he was opposed to benders. He thought bending was the source of all evil and he thought the worst bender ever was his father. Ultimately he saw the hierarchy created by bending to be really really bad and wanted to end it. The fact that he uses blood bending to do this sort of thing is something that brings him immense shame, along with his identity as Yakone's son. So to respond to this he created another identity for himself. He's defined as trying to not belike his father as much as possible, and he saw debending the avatar, the most powerful bender, as the culmination of his quest to end all bending by taking down the main figure of the culture.

In fact, the idea that he uses blood bending to debend is entirely irrelevant, really he never uses blood bending throughout the rest of the series. He's full of shame that he's inadequate to his own task, and that he has to use his father's tools to dismantle his father's house, to butcher the audre lorde. Tarlokk is very similar; he sees a powerful threat that nobody else oculd handle and decided he needed to take decisive action to end it so that someone like his father could not gain control of the city.

Just think, if Amon could have come clean and at the beginning of the thing said "Yo, I'm Yakone's son, no I don't want revenge, in fact I think bending is evil as all hell and want to just get rid of it all using this technique I invented, except you know it really sucks that it involves using the same tool that we are trying to fight." he would have, but he correctly realized that nobody is going to trust yakone's son to get rid of all bending and then be the only bender left, I suppose.

But still, it is nice that they didn't just make him cartoonishly evil and make the whole "I will debend everyone and be the only bender left-a ha ha ha ha!" his motivation or really suggested at all that it was the case. I am still mad that he turned out to be a bender, but I guess this is the least obnoxious way it could have been done.

And while we're on the subject of least obnoxious things, let's jump to one of the most obnoxious things - What the fuck happened to Zuko's mom already? Seriously, just resolve this fucking plot thread already. I need to wait till next season to even get a hint of this shit? BULLSHIT, I say.

Anyhow, back to the whole Equalism movement in itself - Equalism is itself a farce in that it says that utter equality in ability is the means to social justice, when even the very basic analysis shows that complete equality in that sense is not only impossibly, but horrific. Social justice doesn't mean you deafen everyone who happens to have perfect pitch just because that means they can get a job in the symphony more easily.

Benders clearly have no innate improved ability to say, captain a ship. On the other hand, firebenders do have an innate ability to work an existing powerplant. The solution isn't to destroy the energy source of an industrializing society in order to prevent the workers who make it function equal to those who can't. It's to prevent that work from being rewarded unfairly, and to prevent those who CAN'T do such work from being marginalized, when it's clear they can contribute to society in a wide variety of other ways, like say running the damn plant if they're a good administrator.

In short, Equalism is a baby ideology for babies. And with that, I've probably written more words about an imaginary political economy in this post alone than I have on most actual academic subjects in the past 10 years.

Let's just get it thrown out there - We shouldn't conflate the tenets of Equalism with the cult of Amon. Equalism is dumb on its own merits. Just think of what they were doing in the last few episode.
"we were only bombing military targets, sorry about all the civilian casualties. most moral army"

I mean, it's way too much like our own country where we fight terrorist with terrorism.

Either way, this blogger's post about the ending to the season is really spot on with how I sort of feel about it.
Who ever thought we’d see a murder-suicide in a kid’s show? If nothing at all, we can at least appreciate the greater depth this show was at least trying to address (e.g. class warfare) regardless of how poorly it was handled, and that the creators at least have the audacity to push the boundaries and include thematically dark scenes like these—themes running contrary to what are found in Avatar: The Last Airbender, particularly the in regards to the concept of the “second chance”.
I think it sinks in to him that he can never go back to who he was. That’s it’s gone forever, and whatever his motivation actually was for the Revolution is useless to him now. Whatever the purpose he had given himself is now severed by an identity he never wanted. This is probably why he sheds that tear. It dawns on him, too, that he cannot return to who he wanted to be. That the idea that “there’s nothing we can’t do” really isn’t true.

Sometimes, there are no second chances. Sometimes, things happen in life that can’t be undone or mended.

But I can’t help but feel like this entire theme is undermined when Korra (and Lin) get everything back so easily. Neither Korra or Lin are forced to accept that their bending is gone forever, that a part of themselves has been changed—part of their identities lost—and that there’s nothing they can do to go back to the way things were. Neither of them go on a long, fruitless journey to discover the secret of reattaining their bending which would force them to accept the change in themselves and become new individuals. A really solid theme of loss, grief, resilience, and personal growth could have been tied in if only that deus ex machina crap didn’t happen. I would say that the interaction between Noatak and Tarrlok at the end is the most poignantly written part in the show if only it wasn’t rendered pointless by that ending.
So very true.. So very very true.

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