Knocking Them Down
“You can’t knock me down!”
It’s been over a month since ‘The Legend of Korra’ ended its first season and during this time I’ve reflected on many aspects of the show. The stuff I liked and the stuff I didn’t like, but during all this reflection I keep going back to this line. “You can’t knock me down.” Now, this line isn’t from ‘Korra’ it’s from its predecessor ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’ But it clearly illustrates to me what is alternately the most disappointing and infuriating failing of the first season of ‘Korra’. And that’s the writing of the female characters.
When Katara said this line in the original show it was a moment of defiance and empowerment. It was tailored to Katara in that specific moment but in my mind it became one of the biggest mission statements for female characters in the show. In ‘Avatar’, the female characters had agency, they had development, and they had power that was manifested in many different ways. Some were love interests but being a love interest wasn’t ALL they were. They made mistakes. They fell down but the narrative allowed them to rise and be better than they ever were before. Even Azula, who ended the show broken, wasn’t that way because the show was being cruel or careless to her character. It was the natural ending of her arc that the show had been crafting for two seasons.
The key reason why ‘Avatar’ succeeded where ‘Korra’ failed is that there was a clear respect for the narratives of ladies in ‘Avatar’ that is just not there in ‘Korra.’