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Previously in Part 1, I have discussed how strong beliefs are the cornerstone of Fire Nation cultural traits. In this part I will discuss the other, darker side of that dedication: The sacrifice that such passion entails.

Sacrifice in Fire Nation culture, or why Zuko got his face burned off )
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* Many thanks to [livejournal.com profile] fairladyz2005 for being kind enough to look this essay over prior to posting. Her comments and insights made it a much stronger work.

Ah, Fire Nation, Evil Empire of the Avatar series. What to say about your war-mongering ways and colonialism, your racism and destruction of whole cultures, your red-and-black décor that screams evil in such style?

In which I try to make my point with fart jokes and shipping rants )
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Continuing from Part 1 of the essay about the combination of steadfastness and dynamism that makes the Earth Kingdom so formidable, this second part of the Earth Kingdom culture essay is an examination of its diversity and ultimately identity.

Identity and Pride in Earth Kingdom Culture )
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Culture in Avatar: The Last Airbender Series:
1. What It Is to Be Free: Aang and the Spirituality of the Air Nomads
2. We Can Do This, Together: Community and Change in the Water Tribes
3. Stand Strong, Stand Proud: Earth Kingdom Resilience and Identity

The Earth Kingdom is a vast place. If you take a look at the map of the Avatar world, the Earth Kingdom takes up like two-thirds of the inhabited world and likely more with the destruction of the Air Nomads. Similarly, nearly two-thirds of the story of Avatar takes place in the Earth Kingdom, since much of Book 1: Water is about Aang and his friends traveling north through the Earth Kingdom.

How to summarize that sprawling group into a few words? )
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In Part 1 of this essay we examined the cultural values of the Water Tribes and how they affected the story of Avatar. Now let us take a look at the darker side of Water Tribe culture and how the Tribes worked through it as a society and as individuals.

Bring me all your chauvinists! )
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Culture in Avatar: The Last Airbender Series:
2. We Can Do This, Together: Community and Change in the Water Tribes

The Water Tribes come across as a people of contrasts. On the one hand they seem to be the great communitarians, valuing their communal ties and the bonds of family and friendship. On the other hand we have seen how oppressive that community can be in the Northern Water Tribe arc at the end of Book 1, when teenage girls were forced into arranged marriages and the role of women was strictly proscribed. How do we explain this seeming contradiction?

The characters show similar contradictions... )
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In Part 1 of this essay I have discussed the contours and contradictions of Air Nomad culture and how it influenced Aang and other air Nomad characters. Now I continue with a more in-depth discussion of their cultural values through Aang's story.

Returning was the just the beginning of Aang's journey for the meaning of freedom. Also, Star Wars! )
ljlee: (Default)
Culture in Avatar: The Last Airbender Series:
1. What It Is to Be Free: Aang and the Spirituality of the Air Nomads
2. We Can Do This, Together: Community and Change in the Water Tribes
3. Stand Strong, Stand Proud: Earth Kingdom Resilience and Identity
4. Burn for My Belief: The Fire Nation and the Courage of Conviction
5. Subcultures and Conclusion

My account of Air Nomad culture is basically a story of one character, Aang. We know of others such as Monk Gyatso, Avatar Yang Chen, and other monks in flashback scenes from "The Storm," but as far as we know Aang is the last of the Air Nomads. His struggles to find the meaning of freedom and spirituality, while an individual story, is also about the culture he was raised in, its values, perspectives, and flaws. In a very real sense, his culture lives on through him.

In this essay I'll examine the idea of freedom. And Star Wars comes into it somehow. )
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Which is "Better?" Evaluating the Conceptions of Romance
 
So in previous essays I have detailed the appeal of the Katara/Zuko parinigs and the appeal of the conflicting canon pairings, Aang/Katara and Mai/Zuko. I argued that the appeal of "Zutara" was based on the drama and conflict that arose from two very different individuals becoming partners, while the appeal of the canon pairings was based on that of a stable relationship based on shared goals and life views, where the differences complemented each other and conflicts are resolved through communication and mutual trust.
 
 
So who wins? Drumroll, please... )
 
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Romance Should Be Comforting: The "Comfort" View of Romance
 
 
Lust is easy. Love is hard. Like is most important.
- Carl Reiner
 
 
At San Diego Comic Con 2008, Avatar creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko aired a short film/slide show composed of mostly Zutaran fan art, poking fun at the the idea of Zutara and giving airtime to some other pairings, too. It was the joke short Avatar Book 4: Air, Chapter 1: Forbidden Love, and if you have not seen the epic awesomeness that is the video then you must. (Please be aware some of the pictures are a little racy and might not be safe for work. Also, if you have your sound up, it's very noisy!) 
 
I was particularly intrigued when Sokka showed up and basically said that Zutarans are doomed to failed relationships. )
 

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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