ljlee: Queen... er, Lady Misil (misil)
Loopy's excellent essay on why ATLA-Ursa and Search-Ursa are two different people got me thinking about how little The Search has affected my headcanon, probably for the reasons Loopy discussed. The Search simply doesn't seem to be about the same Ursa.

My own Ursa headcanon is and will remain, until an even stronger contender comes along, Qwi-Xux's Guide Me Home which I have reviewed at length on this journal. The fic's Ursa feels like the same woman from the show, and her story fits neatly with canon events. The character has an inner life and character arc that I find compelling. The Hakoda romance, while handled well, is distinctly secondary to Ursa's own character development as far as I'm concerned.

So what's your Ursa headcanon? What fanwork or series of events describes your idea of her story, and why?
ljlee: (Default)
Yeah yeah, it's another "LoK ruined everything" post. Run for the hills!

Reading this thread between [personal profile] chordatesrock and [personal profile] attackfish, I was reminded again of what made the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom so awesome for me. In addition to the epic story, great characters, and cool martial arts, ATLA is also a fairly progressive cartoon particularly on feminism and disability. (Okay, so the feminism is a bit ham-handed, but better than nothing, right?) It correspondingly attracted a sizable number of fans who are interested in these issues, making for great  discussions and friendships with smart people who taught me new perspectives and ideas.

Legend of Korra Book 1, by contrast, is regressive on pretty much all social issues. On the feminism front there are a couple of strong female characters in Korra and Asami, though even their developments were stunted by unclear focus and rushed writing. Otherwise, the prevailing message in LoK seems to be that the status quo is awesome and those who complain are either deceivers or dupes. LoK Book 1 also has nothing to say about disability issues, and where the story could touch on disability it veers between being silent and ridiculously offensive.

I think that's why those of us who were drawn to the socially progressive and political aspects of ATLA were underwhelmed by LoK. The fans who primarily loved the fantasy martial arts and the characters from the original show seem to be fine with the new show, and I say more power to them. (It's not that I think the second group is any less intelligent or socially conscious than the first, of course. The two groups just seem drawn to different parts of the franchise, or at least the second group is more forgiving of LoK's faults in handling social issues. Or they're more optimistic about Book 2 and onward than I am.) In the end the differences between LoK and ATLA highlighted the different reasons fans loved the franchise, and brought home what makes the ATLA fandom special to me.
ljlee: why not? (conch)
Originally posted to Avatar Online, but since I have long since despaired of intelligent discussion on most fan forums I'll repost here. See also The Myth of Canon (found via [personal profile] amyraine 's essay recs), Death of the Author etc.

Of Jet, Zutara, and gay!Dumbledore )

It seems to me reliance on Word of God too often takes away flexibility in favor of easy answers. The gods can talk, but no one needs to listen. The story should speak for itself.
ljlee: (Default)
The post that set me off, arguing that Sozin's war had nothing to do with racism and Ozai perverted a war that was somehow honorable at the start. No really, he makes the argument that the tactics in the war were "sound and honorable" prior to Ozai.

My reply to that post, after I had cooled down a little bit, arguing that Sozin's "Fire Man's Burden" (I believe this is via [livejournal.com profile] lavanyasix) is itself horribly racist and Ozai was simply carrying out Sozin's legacy.

Basically I learned that a) different histories and experiences result in different perceptions, to the extent that what seems like deliberate provocation to me can sound sort of reasonable to other people, and b) I shouldn't write when I'm angry, and c) I need to limit my exposure to ASN, because they might not all be trolls out to get me but holy shit am I sensitive to certain subjects and the ways they are handled. I may be right (or so I would think, obviously), but being right ain't the same thing as being happy.

UGH. I feel dirty just for having read that history-twisting, victim-blaming shit. But then again what better do I expect of a troll's sock puppet?

Verbally beating up stupid people was only fun up to a point. After a while I don't know who to feel sorrier for, the kid on the other end who's so bored he spouts this crap to get attention, or me for spending time shooting down his "arguments."

If I have learned anything from this experience it's that my LJ flist rocks. I had a few fun discussions on ASN, but trying to talk to most of the denizens (even the ones who aren't gross) is like wading through mud. I've got the smart, stable people right here on my flist and I'm not venturing out there ever again. *curls up in a corner, shivering*
ljlee: (Default)
The gist of it: The Equalists did not arise out of a vacuum, but the show also has no evidence of systematic oppression. Rather I argue that the Equalists were a non-bender gang that gained power because the United Republic failed as a government and as a community, leaving non-benders without protection and support. This flaw in the UR is a problem the show should deal with in Book 2 and beyond, and a good job for Korra to handle as the Avatar.

Here's the extended version )
ljlee: (mai)
This was originally part of the Fire Nation culture essay, but it was off topic enough that I decided to expand it into an essay of its own. 

If you're going to hate her, for the love of God hate her for the right reasons. )

In sum: It's perfectly fine to hate Mai. I just wish people would hate the character Mai who was actually in this show called Avatar: The Last Airbender, and not the imaginary show that was cancelled after Book 2. There are valid reasons to dislike Mai, but "cold and uncaring" and "lazy and whiny" are not two of them.
ljlee: (Default)
Yesterday I read this three-part Pulitzer Award-winning article about Nicholas Volker, a then-five-year-old Wisconsin boy suffering from an extremely rare, extremely serious disease, and how the race to save his life lead to the first-ever sequencing of a patient's entire genome. Well actually 1% of it, the exons that are responsible for producing proteins. I encourage you to load the article up on the mobile device of your choice, it's quite a read.

I'm sharing it on my fandom blog because of a tidbit in Part 3 about how Nic, bald from chemotherapy and having spent over 600 days in the hospital, drew strength from the character Aang, a bald boy who battles powerful enemies. His mom played "Aang's Theme" while Nic was being injected with umbilical cord fluid. (Which seems to be a safer form of bone marrow transplant--man, I've got to remember to save mine if I ever give birth.) Nic, also a Batman fan, said he would go into the treatment as Batman and emerge as Aang. I... totally teared up at that, to tell the truth.

The only fly in this ointment is that Nic's Aang was the movie version, but it's heartwarming to know that this sick little kid was encouraged by such a great character. Now that he appears to be healthy--knock on wood--and turns seven soon, I hope Nic gets to see the original animation and enjoy his hero in a whole lot more depth.

One in a Billion: A Boy’s Life, a Medical Mystery: Part 1: A Baffling Illness
One in a Billion: A Boy’s Life, a Medical Mystery: Part 2: Sifting Through the DNA Haystack
One in a Billion: A Boy’s Life, a Medical Mystery: Part 3: Gene Insights Lead to a Risky Treatment
ljlee: (Default)
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... )
ljlee: (Default)
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. )
ljlee: (Default)
Zutara. It's a force that can't be ignored in this fandom. It's been well-established that fans who support the Katara/Zuko pairing are more active and vocal, something a simple Google search seems to confirm. "Zutara," as of this writing, turns up about 485,000 results, while a search for "Kataang" turns up about 303,000 results. There is a similar disparity in Fanfiction.net story searches, with filtering for "Katara, Zuko" and "Romance" turning up 4,834 stories and a filter for "Aang, Katara" and "Romance" bringing up 2,735.

So what, goes the refrain. Katara/Zuko fans have always been more active. In some ways they had to be, since their preferred ship was not sanctioned by canon. Plus, simple popularity proves nothing about validity or quality. Just because more people like something doesn't mean it's better. So what am I trying to prove with the numbers game?

For this essay, I am interested in WHY Zutara is so popular. )


ljlee: (Default)
L.J. Lee

June 2016

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