Which character do you like best?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Sokka A:TLA/ The Last Airbender

SHAMELESS PLUG: visit my other blog to follow my original work! My blog, Raw Eraser- Leave a comment, +1 it, or don't. It just wouldn't be fair to rip apart other people's work if I didn't give you the same option to rip apart mine.

Also, you will notice that there are fewer categories. I realized I end up saying the same thing in certain sections so I parsed down the number of them, to make it a little less repetitive. Hopefully.

Now to the good stuff:

I won't lie to you. I love the original television show by Nick. Favorite characters have a special place in everyone's heart. For me, this character is the self described personification of carnivore and sarcasm, Sokka.


Sokka also holds a special place because somehow he manages to be my most hated character in M Knight Sha-lame's adaption. Not one single catchphrase. The shame.

Seriously, if you take away the fun, meat and sarcasm from Sokka, what's left?
Oh right, there's always Puns. Now take away the puns. That is what was created when the role was destroyed by Jackson Rathboner. The man didn't even have the decency to make puns in Mr. Shllama's version-- though there are sources that indicate that much of Sokka's character was zapped- not by the director/writer, not even by the actor but by the producers.

Like I can't even start without adding a video clip of just how bad and I mean BAD his acting is in this. Like I've said before, I don't blame Nicola Peltz for her acting - she was young AND she's proved she has acting chops. Why people keep giving Jackson Rathbone parts is beyond me. This mess may not be entirely his fault but frankly I've never felt much of anything for the guy:
Like I actually CANNOT.

So... let's get on with it.


Aka: Soak-a -- get it? now it sound's like something to do with water. Yeah. I didn't either.

When Sokka starts out, he actually isn't hilariously funny (I know, I forgot too) and really, although he has his sarcasm, his time in the Southern Water Tribe makes him out to seem annoyed and a little harsh. But he still has his sarcasm. What I did not know is that initially Sokka was written out to be a serious character, NOT as a comic relief aid. It is actually thanks to his wonderful Nick actor, Jack DeSena, that the character became amusing, funny, and human. For many people starting out the series, they find Sokka to be a little off putting, starting eye rolls and exasperation. However, as the series grows the writers let Jack DeSena turn him into a much more likable character. Taken out of his place of trapped responsibility, being the oldest male still in the Southern Water Tribe, he becomes funny, goofy and likable. He becomes a quirky fun guy who actually seems to have some talent with ladies (albeit after learning to respect women - Thanks Suki!) This dynamic change causes him to grow from a child pretending to be a man into a fun young guy -- and his changes do not even stop there. He goes on to grow even more, maintaining his role as a comic relief character but adding new layers to himself by wanting to more responsibility. He wants to be more than just "that other guy who can't bend anything". He (and Suki) become important additions to the Gaang - he comes to represent the stregnth in the normal people, the people who are not born 'special'. His multilayered character acts his age and can be both serious and hilarious when he chooses to be.
Soaker is... well... hmm. Unlike Jack DeSena, Jackson Rathbone chose to play the character exactly how the director wanted him to. People should really stop taking acting notes from Llamas, they hardly know what they're talking about. Jackson's Sokka becomes the shows Sokka -- minus Fun, Character Growth, Puns, Catchphrazes, Sarcasm, Sex Appeal and the ability to speak without a monotone. 

A man true to his word ^

What's really left when you take out everything that makes Sokka, Sokka? Frankly, what you kindof end up with is the tv show's first episode Sokka, but even without the ability to create variation in pitch. There is a good reason the show scrapped whiny, annoyed, pessimistic Sokka so quickly in favor of loud funny Sokka, yet somehow that's what we end up with. It almost seems like Shyamalan and Rathbone had both never seen the show, read the wiki article together and then watched ONLY the first episode of the series in order to prepare the character. Another issue with Soaka is that his age is a complete mystery; Sokka, in the show, is a young teenager, and reacts early on like a child trying to play at being an adult. He grows and has moments that change him and make him into a man-- but it takes time! Rathboner's persona is set. His age is sortof undefined, and the best that can be said is that he is a morose, droopy guy in his late teens to early twenties. He never shows anything resembling emotion and in some ways you kindof wonder if he isnt a creeper. Speaking of which, he may be a psychotic, cause his loving relationship seems pretty... stark.  
Score: 9/10 .2/10

Over complicating everything, Not trusting enough, Cynicism (Though let's be honest, its really kindof a superpower for him.) Lack of faith in his own ideas -- which is a huge one. He wants to be this brave leader but for much of the show he is treated like a sidekick or underling. However, his ideas really do have merit - the Day of black sun proves to be a trying time for him but his plan was solid- it was well thought out, it just did not work as planned. He can be pig headed, and sometimes a little annoying. But he is hardworking and, while a bit of a dunder head at times, he is brave and strong. He learns from his mistakes, and he will not let the fact that he is a non-bender keep him from leadership. 
Meanwhile, king of the long closeup creeper stares is pretty much defined only by the fact that he is not a bender. Ignoring everything involving his fun personality traits being sapped away, the true crime of Rathbone's Sokka is both in its inclusion and exclusion of Sokka's ability to bend even the simplest things. 
Score: 9/10  0/10

Sokka in A:TLA was one of the most interesting characters in the show because he himself had no ability to bend. In the shadow of his sister, Katara, the avatar and later on metal bending master Toph, Sokka stood his own. He became the self proclaimed idea guy after a few disasterous attempts at simple brute force. His arch as a character was one of the very strongest because of his place in the world of bending. He begins as a grumpy ineffective guy who opens up and learns to deal with the cards he's been dealt. And not only does he have to over come his lack of bending ability, he also has to overcome true defeats of his own-- The Day of Black Sun became not just a learning experience by Sokka's greatest challenge to his self worth. He has learned how to wield a sword (a startlingly unrealistic expectation after one days worth of training) and has always had his boomerang at his side but he does not let this defeat him. He continues to laugh and joke and sarcasm and plan. Sokka's plan in the final episodes is one of few reasons that Saosin's comet (the plan, not the piece of ice in the sky) failed. BONUS: The boy has some crazy good art skillz.

So Soaka can... um... well he can stare a lot. Say things very loudly but also mumble them incoherently. Sometimes at the same time. He is in possession of a boomerang... one he doesn't really use. He seems to only get irritable when anyone bends nearby. No swords and most heinously, not even a simple plan. He has the ability to even look in pain when he's in love (though that may just be him questioning his life choices at falling in love with a pen!s haired lady (with a lovely voice that we actually get a chance to appreciate in Legend of Korra-- that's right, Pen!s head plays Asami). OH and of course I forgot the big one: THE POWER OF EXTRANEOUS EXPOSITION. Like his sister this superpower, gift of the gabage, serves pretty steadily to only tell the audience need to know information about strictly the plot. Because in this world, we don't need feelings. Or emotion. Or independent and subjective thought. A nice objective plot summary is much better.  
Score: 10/10 0/10


Sokka is a goofball in the show, but his character arch is still serious enough to provide him with a very human set of fears. Sokka is naturally cynical about things he does not understand. He is cautious, yet he does not seem outright fearful of anything at first glance. As the story progresses, we learn of Sokka's deep seated fear of letting people down and being useless. This comes in sharp contrast to his ability to formulate plans and act as the common sense of the Gaang, because he does not let this fear show. He is more than willing to rush fire nation soldiers and decapitate the vengeful melon-lord, but his fears are much more interior. What makes Sokka's fears all the more interesting is how the writers of the show made him both embrace his fear and lead anyway, then face his fear as his plan failed, and finally showed how he kept moving forward and eventually 'redeemed' himself in The Boiling Rock two-parter. His character significantly matures from the first season, and even when his fear occurs, he does not lose himself -- not like Aang, who's younger years force him into a frustrated spiral for a time in the third season. (not hating on Aang, just pointing out the shows integrity to age/maturity)
I suppose M. Night's Soaka is afraid of things too, although what might be his fearful look could, mistakenly, be just a bit of minor gas. He's afraid of water, as he is often being hit with badly rendered CGI puddles of it. I think Soaka might be afraid of character development. Really we should all be giving him a big round of applause for trying (weakly) to overcome that fear when he starts his relationship (offscreen) with Princess Yue. He was really stepping out of his bounderies as a brick wall of a person. Having his sister narrate his relationship, as opposed to letting us see it, was a bit odd though. Maybe he didn't know? Maybe Katara is a busy-body who thought she'd tell us the truth about the real Sokka, the one we don't see on the silver screen, the one who frolics in the snow with penis-hair women, one who stares dramatically into sunsets like he's a fully realized character. Maybe we are supposed to respect Soaka's privacy. He doesn't know us, he shouldn't have to share! YOU DON'T KNOW HIS LIFE! Either that or he just doesn't have any goddamn character development.

 Score: 9/10 1/10

Position of Power:
The best part of A:TLA is the character interaction. While we can say that Aang is the main character, in reality, the power shifts a lot throughout the show as a whole, on an episode by episode basis. Often times Aang takes the lead, but Katara, Sokka and later Toph, Zuko and Iroh, will take turns playing leader. The characters all have their trope parts - Sokka's being "the idea guy" but because they are fully rounded characters, they each take their turns. Sokka does not complain often about not being the leader (Although it does occur in the beginning of the series, when his "I'm the oldest" rhetoric is still very much alive) because the Gaang tends to make their decisions together. This is what allows the multi-plot ending to work - we have four characters who we believe are equally good leaders -- five if we count Suki and her timely rescue. Aang takes on the firelord, Katara and Zuko equally take the Fire Nation capital, and Sokka leads the assault on the airships (and Suki, when left on her own, saves Toph and Sokka from a rather tight spot -- she is the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors after all).
Soaka is the leader of the three avatar hereos. He is manly, and strong. And silent. Except when his sister hits him with water. and stuff. He is the oldest, the bravest, the whitest, the ONLY man in the south pole! He loves nothing and no one! Except that white haired chick at the end! he-- yeah ok enough is enough. Sadly though, you do have to wonder who is making the decisions in The Last Airbender's gaang. Because the majority of the film is exposition, you have to assume that the three characters made their decisions together, but there is never any indication that they even have a plan other than "fly to northern air temple". While, yes, that was the basic tennant of the show, the kids did make a lot of side trips just to see the world. Sokka, in the show, was the time keeper, never letting them stay in one place for too long. That doesn't seem to be the case here. It seems like Soaka has no power, and neither do Uung or Katara. The only character possessing power is clear to be the greatest villain of the movie: exposition man. These characters are boring because they have no apparent choice. They just do whatever exposition man tells them to, the suckers. All fear the mighty exposition! 

Score: 7.5/10 0/10

Love Plots:

Sokka and Yue:
      In the show Yue was not the strongest character - in many ways, we get to know her about as well as we get to know most other minor characters, such as Haru. Even Jet and Smeller Bee end up having more character development than Yue - odd considering her sacrifice is the big end of the season finisher. But that's for another post. Yue and Sokka's relationship, while not the greatest romance in the history of television, also wasn't the worst. It was hella rushed though; The introduction was a bit clunky, and the love at first sight nonsense seems to be a bit at odds with the shows usual success with slowly developing relationships (both romantic and non-romantic). However, I wonder now how unrealistic this first relationship (yes he met Suki first but they didn't date until later) really is. The two characters are young - 15 at most, and their entire world seems to be in danger. Combine the emotional trainwreck that is puberty with the abominations of war and a little off the cuff romance no longer seems so far fetched. That being said, the show almost did a reverse of the film: their relationship had very little exposition or scenic development, and the confusing and meaningless addition of Yue being already engaged turned this possibly bittersweet romance into a melodrama. No, I suppose when we first met Yue we had no idea that by the end of the arc she was going to kick the big one -- I mean "turn into the moon spirit", but did we really need the love triangle melodrama? Instead we could have really met Yue and come to know her personality. As it is, we know nothing about their relationship except Yue is pretty and, oh yeah, a zombie. They just kindof slapped a tragic backstory on her and were done with it. It was sad, but not nearly as sad as it should've been, considering she was supposed to be a lead character's girlfriend. She ranks right up there with Sam's Jessica on Supernatural, or anyone Selena Gomez dates in Wizards Of Waverly Place. Yeah, I watched it. Come at me. bro. 
so so pretty!
Sokka and Suki: 
     This is where the real relationship begins. Sokka and Suki meet well before Sokka even has a relationship with Yue. At first she seems like the stereotypical one episode dream girlfriend, as she really does only have that one appearance in the first season. However, word around the internet is that her character was so well liked by fans and staff that she was given a bigger role in seasons two and three to eventually become a member of the gaang. Considering their brief meeting, Suki and Sokka engaged in a very flirty, quite organic relationship that only grew when they reintroduced her again in the second season. Sokka and Suki don't start off right away dating, and it really is not until later that their romance grows - and before that could happen, Suki and Sokka had to have it out because Sokka was being far too over protective of her, thanks to his recent experience losing Yue. As characters their interactions are well justified. And hella cute. Seriously, this is adorable: 
Not to mention that these are the only two characters who's relationship fits their age: sex. Lets actually bring it up for a sec. In the series these are the only two characters we really see sneaking around at night- it's pretty obvious from the room Sokka sets up (that is found by Zuko for the lols ((and the squeels of the Zokka shippers))) that he is expecting some pretty exciting romance from Suki that night. Whether parents want to think about it or not, these two have a normal functioning relationship that does not feel forced, unlike the strictly "romantic" relationship between Aang and Katara or Zuko and Mai.
I dunno, I don't see the romance... but still more plausible (and less disturbing) than happy Zuko and Mai:

 As for Mr. Soaka... Surprisingly, probably the relationship with Yue was the best part of Sokka's entire portrayal. Even without the backstory to back it up, this pairing somehow went far beyond the character development of any of the lead roles (excepting maybe Dev Patel's Zuko... but only maybe) For the first time we can kindof see these characters behaving like people. Unfortunately, even this attempt falls wicked flat. Thanks to our good old friend Exposition-man, their relationship is still reduced to a series of longing stares with Katara, of all people, describing its romance. Oddly, the love triangle between Sokka, Yue and her fiance was cut entirely from the film, a place where, ironically, it would have served to bring more depth of character to one of our main heroes. The relationship is further simplified as Sokka is now not trying to win the love of the daughter of the head of the northern water tribe, but with the actual head of the northern water tribe, who can do as she damn well pleases. 
 As for the Suki love interest... while the character was originally marketed to appear in the film, it is reported that M. Night believed the film to be too much about the Kyoshi Warriors and instead cut them from the film entirely. Despite her involvement in the first season being so minimal, her part was cut entirely so she did not steal the show. Perhaps it is for the best. Who knows how her character might have been portrayed. Points off for cutting Suki.

Score: 10/10 1/10

Time to tally them scores! 

Overall Complexity:                   9.08 TV

Overall complexity:                    0.37 FILM

Amazingly, Sokka is both the highest ranking and lowest ranking character so far. 
over and out.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Sorry not Sokka - but I just need to post this-

In Defense of the Extreme Feminist:

Ever get tired of those women? You know the ones. The bra burning, hairy legged woman who works full time, throws paint on fur coat owners, wears tuxes to prom and tweets #killallmen while getting arrested for walking around topless in new york city.

Now look at all the stereotypes I just threw out there. Are all of them accurate? Wild, improper, uncultured women who hate men and wish to see society burn is not what feminism is about. It just isn't. These women can be annoying and detrimental to the worlds view on what feminists really are but frankly; they prove a point for feminists as well – they show to the privileged group what it is like to be the unprivileged ones. They are cursed out and shown a way of thinking that they disagree with. They do not like the hardcore feminist because she tells them how to be. The difference is that someone being told certain morals, by a hardcore feminist can walk away. They do not have to live in that world. I cannot walk away from that. That is something I experience every day on the news, from anyone who tells me my shirt is too low cut, my stomach not tight enough or my views too extreme.

I myself am repulsed by unshaven female legs. I'll admit it. I've tried very very very hard to look past it, because people should always be allowed to treat their bodies the way they want to be treated, yet when I see female body hair I still cringe. I don't know if its something that’s been conditioned in me, but frankly it doesn't matter. Who cares what I feel about their legs, it only matters what they feel. Same with bras. I may want one, but that doesn't mean someone else will.

Ask yourself, for a second though, WHY you do not like the extreme feminist. Seriously, do so. Does she shove her decisions down your throat, try to put feelings and words in your mouth? Does she threaten your sense of control in your life? What about your guilt for not being understanding enough. Does she annoy you with self-righteous promotion?

What you posit is that the “Feminazi” Is practicing Sexism against the male gender, but the thing is, it is impossible for any woman to be sexist to a man, as it is impossible for any ethnic minority to be racist against white people, or for gays to be heterophobic.
Reverse-isms just cannot exist by definition. In order for something to be racist or sexist or any insertnamehereist, there are two things required: prejudice--the hatred of a particular group of people for being who they are--and privilege. Minorities inherently do not have privilege. To reiterate from Cal, a person telling their boss they are fired does nothing.

The argument for reverse sexism is this: Girls can and are anti men. Not all the time, for sure, but there are many instances where women seem to get away with something a man could not. This means you are against prejudice--and that is admirable. But contributing to men’s rights organizations is as useless as contributing to straight pride parades, white history month and the golden globes. They may have prejudice put against them but it does not stop them from walking away from the person who is infringing their rights. It does not affect an entire group, only individuals. On a macrocosmic level, these organizations do nothing but stymie the legitimacy of actual racial, gender and LBGTQ movements.

Where am I going with this then? What you are hearing, when you hear a woman or man speak radically about feminist views is the same prejudice accosting we, as women, or ethnic minorities or Genderqueer people have thrown at us every day from the powers of the socio-political government: from the tradition of the straight white cys norm. The only difference between what the United States Governmentand Feminists is who is making decisions that impact real people.

Feminazis say abort all unwanted babies.
Texas kept a brain dead pregnant women alive for two months against her own wishes.

Feminazis say #killallmen causing anger amongst the populous.
A boy in California guns down women and men because he did not get the sex he knew he was entitled to. Other young men empathized with him and believed that if only someone had just slept with him everything would have been ok.

Feminazis say to burn all bras and that we must grow our leg hair long.
A woman in a size 8 dress is still considered plus size by the media.

Feminazis are frustrated because women cannot control our own bodies. Women are told we must carry a pregnancy all the way through to the end because a mother should always give up her life for a child.

Dead people with healthy organs cannot have them donated unless they offered to be donors before death because they have full body autonomy: the right to choose what happens with their own body, even if a small donation could save the life of another.

Feminists are slowly gaining two steps for every one step we move backwards.

Misogynists decided radical feminists are monsters because of what other misogynists have defined a feminist as.

The real difference between hardcore feminists and the threatened male masses is that the male masses have all the power. They are not marginalized, they are not thought of as trouble makers, and are only ever misguided, or having conservative values. They are not the monsters. They do the same thing as hardcore feminists. When was the last time you heard someone compare them to an entire group of people committing genocide? And if it did happen, how many people became seriously up in arms about it?

So congratulations. If you can honestly say that listening to the hardcore feminist agenda is annoying and filled with unfair complaints, and that you are for equal rights but wouldn’t want to help someone based on their radical need for equality, you are an indoctrinated misogynist. You do not know you are a misogynist and deny it because you express certain levels of equality, while ignoring those that would benefit the most. You cannot claim to be “humanist” if you will not support feminists. By demeaning their fight, you add to the problem because you are claiming they are not human.

Come back eventually for more fun stuff. 
If you rolled your eyes or have a comment say so.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Katara A:TLA/The Last Airbender

Todays character:  Katara!
ps. see some of my original work here: raweraser.blogspot.com

Sweet, a little dramatic at times, but kick ass. 
She may make us full of awe, but stay tuned 
her film (would be) franchise counter part is just 
You see what I did there.
So small-white-girl, it actually hurts...


Aka: Little miss exposition
believability: Katara's characterization throughout the show is truly dynamic. If the show is a story of growth from child to man for Aang, it is even more-so for Katara. She comes off, at the beginning, like a young teenage girl. As the series moves forward, Katara becomes a major player, not just as a vapid love interest for Aang or to narrate the opening credits, but as a warrior, strategist and protagonist. The story becomes as much her story as Aangs. She is responsible but is shown to not always be so.  Possibly the only moment I personally have with Katara where her believability is questioned is at the very end when she finally accepts Aang's crush and returns his love. For me, this is unrealistic. Katara has spent far too much of the show denying Aang feelings for them to suddenly come rushing in. Let's face it, how many young people would actually forgo someone they truly had feelings before just because there was a war on? For most young people, a war like that would be reason enough to prompt marriage, let alone dating. She makes it clear she has no feelings for Aang. His love is so unrequited it hurts. The ending was simple wish fulfillment. That being said, I love all of Katara and Aang's children, so that makes up for it a little, especially Bumi. (But seriously, 'war' didn't exactly stop her when it came to Haru. Or Jet. "Now's not the right time" is girl for "oh god I don't know how to say no without hurting his feelings so I'll let him down so gently that he won't get it")

How did miss exposition stack up? Well... she... she's ok at reading the plot synopsis off of wikipedia... but she misses about 75% of everything that happens inbetween leaving the south pole and... arriving at the north pole... It's actually amazing how we are literally hearing the thoughts of this little 14 year old girl, but we get no trace of her personality at all. I don't believe her because it sounds like she's reading off the wikipedia page. Now I'll be straight with you: this is the screenwriters fault and the directors fault. We see more or less nothing that happens to these characters. We don't see Katara's interactions with her brother or Aang and so we cannot even begin to sense their connection. If only Mr. Llama had read the script before hand! If only he had had the presence of mind to hire a better director! Who were these dumbasses who screwed up Mr. Llama's adaptation?! 
Oh wait, he wrote and directed it himself... 
 I don't think we've seen so much producer/director/writer failure ever in one room -
Oh. Right. Nevermind.

Score: 9.5/10 0.2/10 (she giggled convincingly like... once)

Katara is, surprisingly, not a Mary Sue; she struggles for a vast majority of the first season in developing her waterbending and is often jealous at the rate Aang progresses in his own training. What takes her months to learn often takes Aang seconds and she is gets jealous and annoyed because of it. She is impulsive in many points, and believes the best in people, especially when she finds them attractive like Haru and especially Jet. This infatuation can even blind her to the insanity jet causes. However, when she does finally see Jet for what he really is, she refuses to be a push over ever again. She holds grudges fast and hard - she never seems to truly forgive Jet for lying to her until it is too late and she cannot save his life. She still shows signs of feelings for him and that her feelings remain hurt. However she is able to mend these faults through Zuko. In many ways for Katara, Zuko and Jet act as foils for one another. Katara trusts them both, is betrayed, and then she rejects them upon their return. The difference in them is not in Zuko and Jet's characters but in Katara's learned lesson: Where she refused to forgive Jet, she forgives Zuko, and the two combine to make an unstoppable team. Also don't forget that time she stole waterbending scrolls from pirates. That was a mistake.

Miss Exposition... isn't all that good at water bending? that's kind of a flaw. She is shown, in the beginning, to have weak control over her powers. However she is terrifyingly good at breaking open giant tombs of ice. Also her powers of poor plot narration are without bounds. For Katara of the film, there really is not much to say about her flaws as a character because we do not see enough of her doing things in the film. So now is the time to give notice to THE BIG casting flaw. Everyone and their mothers have gone on the record saying how dissappointed they were at the casting of now-19-year-old Nicola Peltz. She is pretty vanilla when it comes to ethnicity, and it really was a shame to see a role of such opportunity for an often ignored ethnic class go to another all American white girl. Now, I held out. I had hopes that they cast Nicola because they couldn't not have her. I hoped that they had forgone the ethnic casting because they had found simply the perfect actress, in voice, temperment and maturity to play the role. And yet literally none of those things was the case. From how the movie turned out, Nicola Peltz could have been a hobo child off the street who had never been in front of a camera before in her life. Part of the problem was, indeed, the writing of her character who, despite talking more than any other character in the movie, lacked a single personality trait reminiscent of the source character. She is more vapid than any nightmare. She has no personality, makes no decisions, and so has no flaws.
Score: 9/10  0/10


Katara is a water-bender, and becomes one of the best, if not the best water-bender of all time. But she does not do it slowly. As stated before, much of his skill is trained and worked through slowly. She becomes a thorough learner and an avid studier of what water bending is capable of. She invents new techniques and uses imagination. Through one of the single most interesting and chilling episodes she is even taught the terrifying and morally ambiguous art of blood bending. She learns that her powers are not just good, the way she imagines herself to be, but that they are also something to be wary of. She discovers Uncle Ben's Spiderman clause without ever having to spell it out. It is the challenges and moral quandaries that Katara struggles through that make her abilities interesting.

All I can really do is repost this picture from last time. It is all the words I need: 

                                              (although again it should be noted that the actual choreographers did an interesting and well thought out job. Much of their fighting f-ups were due to the lack of cgi anything)
Score: 9/10  4/10

Personality Type:
She is unsure of herself, excitable and above all, annoyingly hopeful. She quickly learns the healing powers most female characters are subjected to, and throughout the first season develops into a nurturing mother figure for both her brother Sokka and the new Avatar, Aang. But the best part about Katara is that even by the end of the first season, she does not stay that way. She gets crushes on boys and falls in with the wrong crowd (Jet is clearly a sociopath). She even deals head on with sexism in a legitimate way: she accepts it from Jet and ignores it because of her feelings, she fights it from Paku because she demands her right to be able to defend herself, and, most importantly, she demands that she not be treated as a sexual object. On multiple occasions Aang asks Katara to be more than friends and she tells him, to the point she is not interested. He does not listen and so she actually makes him listen to her. These are events that real young women everywhere have to deal with. Katara knows when she wants a man and when she does not and she will tell you so.

Personality? What's that? And let me make this clear: I do not blame Nicola Peltz. She was offered a role, she took it. Do I personally disagree with the decision to cast her? Yes. But here's the thing: she's actually not a bad actress. Take a look at her work in Bates Motel. Bailey is an interesting and dark character and Nicola plays her well. She's interesting to watch and has a lot of ups and downs. The entirety of lacking personality is in the poorly written script. Also it didn't help that her costars gave miserable performances as well. Seriously, all she does is exposition:

Score: 8.5/10 1/10

Katara's Fears: losing anyone else she cares about, being seen as the healer girl, not living up to her potential, being naive and tricked, becoming ruthless -- a fear that is shown multiple times throughout the show. It impressively shows that a young girl could be turned into a killing machine and monster. Much like Katara's main foil, Azula.
Mr. Llama's Katara's fears: speaking anything that isn't exposition. Betraying emotion. Interacting with castmates. Her angry angry brother Soaka. Irritable Dev Patel. Its actually kind of hilarious.
Score: 7/10  3/10

Position of Power:
Katara is, as was said earlier, often misjudged, She is powerful and can be truly terrifying but because she is young and because she is a girl she is seen as weak by those in positions of power. Azula uses Katara as a vulnerability during her fight with Zuko, and it is exactly this misguided judgement on Katara that leads to Azula's ultimate defeat. Among the Aang group, she is the mother, and her judgement is respected nine times out of ten. One of the few times she loses her argument is when she is grudging to take in Zuko upon his return to the Gaang. She makes it clear that she is a mama bear and there in she reins.
Ms. speaks-only-in-basic-plot-points has not power amid the people. She fights, she heals, but she becomes a voyeristic component of the film. She is used as, I have stated often, the bringer of exposition and is the immediate go-to for the viewer to relate to and see through the eyes of. Because of this, her own personal conflicts and decisions are negated from the film almost entirely. What we are left with is an empty husk that we are intended to take and use for our own feelings. Sadly there is not much their to find. She watches and so we must look on with her.
Score: 7.5/10 2/10

Katara's conflicts are many and multifaceted throughout the television show. She falls in love, she falls out of love, she gets hurt, she faces physical adversity, she must revive a fallen friend, she is betrayed, and she faces her own inner demons. Much of this has been talked over but it should be noted: where the Aang of the show and the Aang of the film undergo similar conflicts, the Katara of the two mediums do not. Gone from the film is the sexism and moral quandaries of that little fourteen year old girl. In its stead is left gaps and holes and a filler of stagnant attempts to turn Katara and Aang's younger lives into a convincing love story.
Score: 10/10 2/10

Love Plots:
She has so many and they are all interesting. Now, we all know I am not a huge fan of Kataang, so I will forgo another rant. What I will say about their relationship is that the portions of developing Aangs crush and Katara's lack of interest were some of the most human moments in the show. Things like this happen all the time in the lives of young adults. Your close friend develops feelings for you, feelings that you don't happen to return. How should Katara Cope? How should Aang? The most realistic part of this is that Aang even ignores Katara's protests and tries anyway. It is not necessarily a morally sound thing to do, and it even feels a little scummy but it is undeniably realistic. It is because of this intensely interesting relationship that the show has develped between these two characters that I cannot see their relationship working out. Without the well developed narrative and character relationships, I could not have come to that conclusion. Katara's other relationships are just as interesting as well. The betrayal, early on of Jet, has been discussed but it comes as a pivital moment in Katara's life. That betrayal helps her grow up and helps her understand more about herself-- and she hates it! She goes on to grow these grudges for Jet that move on to Zuko. More than anything, after the sudden death of Jet, her unresolved feelings about what Jet has done pass on to the next person to betray her: Zuko. His betrayal hits her in close proximity to Jets and for the rest of the series she treats him as one would treat the ex of a bad break up. She is scorned by love. To say that no romantic feelings occured between Zuko and Katara is ignoring a large portion of their characters. Nothing may have come from it in the cannon created by Bryan and Michael, but they clearly have horomones flying around between them in their scenes. Katara's relationships make her more interesting, and she never comes off as a boy swapping girl with one man for every day of the week. It just makes her seem more human.

And if we ever needed more proof:
 In the distance the wailing of a thousand Zutara fans (not to mention the hoisting of their pitchforks and torches) can be heard... Mind included...
If you do not interact with the other characters in any way people can see, then relationships cannot develop. That being said, the closest thing we had to even slight romance was between, once again, Zuko and Katara. You know, if you count fear and love as the same thing. I bet Azula does. 

Score: 9/10 1/10

In hopes that Mr. Llama will never try to continue his epic catastrophy ever again and leave a beautiful thing to its original form (also that someday somehow Zutara will become in the cannon with Katara and Zuko as old people):

Overall Complexity:
Katara is a very complex, unique and interesting young character. To try to reiterate what has been stated above would be boring to read. Just know this: Mr. Llama's film took a character that had everything going for her and wrote her into obscurity. She became little more than a pair of eyes and a cute face. It is not the actresses fault that this character fails so much on screen. This is the fault of her director, who wrote himself a screenplay that lacked any kind of intrinsically emotional value. You cannot become attached to characters who have no substance. You cannot destroy everyones childhood and you will not destroy mine.

Good DAY sir!

Overall complexity: 8.7 TV and 1.65 FILM

I'll do Sokka next. Eventually.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Aang Avatar/The Last Airbender

Hey guys sorry it's been a while- Finals took over my life. A couple things:
If you liked any of my writing here, or are just into really horrible poetry/fiction, then read my sister blog, Raw Eraser. This will probably update more often thanks to fiction and poetry being my forte, as opposed to analysis. Anywho, onto the fun:

Todays character: 
But wait, we aren't doing just this lovable bumpkin, but also:
 That's right folks. For the forseeable future, Avatar is the name of the game. Lets turn to the criteria:


Aka: Ungg
believability: The Aang of the TV show is a pretty realistic kid. At ten years old he's got the weight of the Dalai Lama and the super powers of captain planet under his command and yet he still manages to appear like a normal, if flawed child. His strength as a character lies in his flaws because his flaws take this character who should, by all accounts, be a Mary sue of epic proportions and makes him human. Through out the original run of the series, we see him grow and change, starting out care free and just wanting to have fun and we see him grow up. He learns to control his wild emotions and live by a certain code of morality. However, we also see him jealous and petty and silly. He even goes as far as hurting Katara in an attempt to show off, and is the first one to forgive Zuko when no one else will. Aang's believability continues even into Legend of Korra, where we see, from his children's perspective, all his faults as a father. Aang may be the Avatar, but he is humanized to a full extent, and having the reproach of his children reminds the viewer that even the avatar is not perfect. He, in this later society has been idealized to an absurd degree, and this reality check not only strengthens Aangs character, post mortem, but also serves as a way to develope the characters important to the new series and create a real bond in his children, Bumi, Kiya, and Tenzin.

As for "Ahng" of the Last Airbender failure, his actor, Noah Ringer, 17, might not be entirely responsible. The acting we do see in this film is more than a bit painful, with Noah and his female accomplice, Nicola Peltz, sharing so few lines of dialogue, it is hard to believe the two children have even met. By the end of the film, Aang has had exactly 8 conversations total with his friends, most of which had to do with surroundings and nothing to do with character development. The situations don't give him a chance to grieve his people or to even play like a child. The lovable little annoyance that was Aang from the original series is gone, mostly because everything that happens that could potentially develop his character is ripped away leaving a kid with martial arts training to stand around awkwardly between fight scenes. (and lets not get into the mess that was the visual effects of this movie... The effects here could have been improved with rotating gobos and that is saying something). This Aang is not a child. He is not a person caught up in something bigger than himself. He does not fear his responsibility, he does not feel pain at being alone, he does not feel the joy in simplicities kids do. He is a blob of nothing with a really cool wardrobe choice. (But actually. Only thing decent about the film, whoever was on costume, kudos- everything looks really cool- except Yue's head penis... but we'll get to that later.)
Score: 9/10 2/10

Flaws: We have talked a little about flaws above, but just to recap: He is so afraid of responsibility he actually runs away starting the whole 100 years of avatar free world. He is stubborn, and in some sense, his morals create for him this ambiguous entity that might be a flaw but might be his biggest virtue. The ambiguity in Aang's response to violence is remarkable. He refuses to kill what is the equivalent of Firebreathing Hitler (oh well now I have to make that a picture... )
and finds a way to stop the dictator without killing him. He rides a real strugglebus and manages to end the series with the same innocence he started it with, rare in a Bildungsroman such as this. In addition to moral issues, Aang has flaws in other sectors- he is love struck in one of the most annoyingly childlike ways, and he spends much of the series annoying Katara with childish advances. Not to say it goes to far into rape culture society or anything, but Aang does perpetrate several unwanted kisses to Katara, who wants to sort out her feelings. The issue it addresses, about wanting children to know its ok to say no is an important one that is done, in a way, by Nickelodeon that is not scary or that presses the point into uncomfortable territory. Aang kisses Katara. She does not like this. He tries it again later. She gets annoyed and puts him down. All is right with the world. Aangs flaws make him human.
Oh Aaaanchu... bless you, child, you are like some kind of dry toast saint. Or maybe a rice pudding saint. The film's attempt at Aang lacked one of the most important qualities discussed, at legnth, above: Flaws. The kid has no flaws- he is simply a little kid with insanely good martial arts skills who's happy go-lucky personality doesn't even exist. Even when he comes out of the ice block, having just, in his temporal memory, fled from home fearing responsiblity, he shows little emotion towards his situation. When Katara asks him why he was in the ice, he laughs it off "I was upset and ran away I should get home" and Katara asks "Are you still upset?" and Aang laughs: no!" We are led to believe Aang holds pretty much no feelings or flaws that caused his cowardly escape. The plot, from the very beginning, has been thwarted. And as far as Aang was concerned, the perfect little kungfuJesus was so holy and clean, he made Dora the Explora look like a little skank.
Score: 9/10  0.2/10

By all accounts, Aang should be over powered. He has the power of the gods, thousands of years worth of ancestors to call up at any time, can control four different elements and has the respect of pretty much the entire world, sans the fire nation. And yet, while he has the basics for all of the elements and potential to master them, the entire plot revolves around his attempts to master all four, something I wouldn't quite say he even achieves by the end. He comes fully equiped with Air bending, yet we see very little use of airbending that would qualify as offensive or masterful. He has cool tricks and can show off for friends, but it is my belief that airbending is the one art in which Aang will never be able to achieve the mastery of his people because his training was never completed. As for the other elements, while he picks up water fairly quickly, he is still eventually surpassed by Katara, who can perform amazing healing and even learns how to blood bend (I cannot wait to go over the moral ambiguities of Katara). Fire is fun for Aang, but he shows a lack of control that eventually leads to Aang's fear of it until the end of the series. Toph makes it plenty clear that Aang lacks a firm grasp of earth bending. He becomes less of an over powered character and more of an average powered character that can do a lot of different things. His powers are tempered by his flaws.
At this point I would hope that we have all seen the .gifs of the special effects in The Last Airbender movie. Noah's technical martial arts skills may be pretty Bolin (geddit? I'm adorable with puns today) but the way they are portrayed and linked with the actual bending of elements is atrocious. But... lets take a moment and just acknoledge that, yes, the martial arts in the movie was actually pretty cool. We can laugh all we want about the post edit special effects failures, but that does not mean that the intent on the actors parts was not there. The forms and styles were pretty kick ass. So kudos to you, actor combatants- However, in movie-verse, these guys are way under powered. For which we have the special effects team to thank. What it looked like, honestly, is that the on location crew and choreographers had a good idea of what they were doing and how it should play out when the special effects are added. There are several times within the film that you can actually see an actor make an attack cue (and trust me on this, I know- I am an actor combatant in the SAFD) and then absolutely nothing happens. Some people had problems with the necessity of fire being around, but I didn't find that an issue so much as the lack of preparation on the part of the postedit team. The problem is not in the actors but entirely in the special effects artists who I am half convinced were M. Knight's children working in mspaint. 
                                              (actually this looks better than what they did...)
Score: 8/10  5/10 (the actor combatants really were good. Blame the postedit)

Personality Type:
I'll be honest, I've never been a huge fan of Aang's personality- it would grate with mine in real life and I would find him annoying and needy. However, he has enough of a personality for me to have an opinion on it, which means that the writers, actors, artists and editors did their job. He is a real person.
Ong grates on me as well but its for his lack of personality, which for me is a death sentence to character. He has no real feelings on anything, or, if he does, we never get to see it because Shamallama made the movie in such a manner that we hardly get any screen time or development with our main characters.
Score: 7/10 -1/10

Aang's fears: the firelord, responsibility, letting people down, hurting other people, Killing anything, Losing what he cherishes, his own mortality, hurting Katara, the genocide of his people (though too late on that one oops), losing Appa, losing the war, failing his world, being the avatar. And that folks, is a well rounded character.
Ong's fears: character development, back story, showing emotion, being interesting to watch, the gays? ethnic characters, and representing the wonderful show he was supposed to be inspired by.
Score: 9/10  0/10

Position of Power:
You know, you'd think with the Avatar's rep he would be pretty much the pope, but like, he gets disrespect all over the place- not just from the fire nation but like, from the Earth Kingdom, that town that oppose the Kiyoshi Warriors, pretty much everywhere he goes there are people that hate him or disrespect him for leaving them alone for a hundred years or else because he is trying to stop various government and claim some control.
Ong... well... um... he.... We don't really know his power position because pretty much the only time we see it addressed is in the Northern water tribe, and even then he pretty much announces his existence and they hand over the reigns of the entire tribe to a bunch of children who they know about as well as the audience does. My god, none of these people connected...
Score: 8/10 1/10

The conflicts of both the film and the show are more or less the same, but with varying levels of execution. Television, for this format, makes far more sense to begin with because the episodic plot structure allows for character development in between point of plot and among various episodes which have mini plots throughout. The film failed mostly because it tried to rush through the mini-plots and the character development and jump to the bones of the story, where all that matters is Zuko, the Firelord, Zhao and the Northern Water Tribe. The film did not leave time for the childlike fun and wonder that made the television series so poignant and enjoyable as a legitimate family show. It was not fun or funny or cool for the children and it was not heartwarming, thematic and didactic. We had no stake in the lives of any of the characters, espeically Aang. It just kinda sucked. The conflicts may be exactly the same and they may even be good ones. For that reason alone I will give the score for his category as joint- they will both receive the same. It only proves that even the best conflicts can be ruined in a narrative work through bad directing.
Score: 10/10 10/10

Love Plots:
I will be totally honest here, I was never a fan of Aang's love plots in this series. As the Ember Island Players point out, Katara treats Aang consistently like a son or at best a younger brother, and I just never see the spark there. Their personalities mesh like that of Hermione and Harry, and their relationship feels almost as incestuous to me as one between Katara and Sokka would. (note: personal ship here would be Toph/Aang, but I can't change what is. Besides, I am a fan of all three of Kataang's children) I always felt the Katara Aang romance felt too forced, and as an author, I know that you yourself will know if your intended pairing just will not work out. Fans saw this, its clear even the animation team saw this (by the amount of time they spend on it in Ember Island players), perhaps the only people who did not see it were the youngest sect of the children watching the show. I am not saying Katara and Zuko were meant to be (but who wouldn't love to see a TROLOLOLOL filled ship between old people Katara and Zuko in Korra?) but the way the love plot was set up it started out ok as puppy love but seemed distracting and forced once the war was brought to the forefront, not to mention that even in a war time, Katara shouldn't be that adamant about their nonromantic involvement if she wasn't really just trying to let him down easy. If a spark is there, it will be there regaurdless. Also Rapekisses.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA LOVE PLOT WHAT'S THAT? srlsy, did Katara and Ong even interact? Could we even call that a romance?
Score: 4/10 0/10
 Masculine Power:
Two words: Twinkle toes. (but like, in a good way. Who needs masculine power as a 12 year old? By the end the guy is pretty jacked, though he really has to stop forcing himself on the ladies.)
Two words: Twinkle toes. (cool fighting... though some acting classes couldn't hurt...)
7/10  5/10
Overall Complexity:
Overall, it comes down to this: Aang from the TV show is a well thought out, interesting and original character who has emotions, can be annoying, irritating, lovable, adorable and the range of human emotions. He is complex and has interesting motivations and can be selfish, greedy, cowardly and scared.
Aang from the film has none of the charms or identity that makes him recognizable as the character we know and love despite an interesting and creative rebrand with the costuming (admit it people, the costumes were good. Just nothing else. And don't give me any shit about the tattoo, that was a cool makeup choice as well, even if it differs a little. Really, its a shame the film was so poor because cosplayers everywhere would have had a good time making some of the changes the film did and having those costumes as an example). However clothes do not make the man, and Aang did not meet up with anyones expectations- his characterization was too shallow, and that coming from rich and impressive source material. Aang could use hand to hand combat, but that was about it. We don't know what he likes, what he doesn't like, we don't see his puppy love, his longing, his hope, his loss of hope, his fear or anything that makes Aang Aang. He's just boring.
Overall complexity: 7.8 TV and 2.467 FILM

Followup later to see the scores of some other beloved characters from the show and film