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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! )
ljlee: (Default)
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... )
ljlee: (cute)
Since things keep slipping my mind, I thought I'd make a list. This way hopefully I'll be shamed into writing. :)

Current:


Shadow of the Dragon King - My mega-long political drama leading up to the ill-fated war meeting and Zuko's exile. So seriously procrastinating on this; will start editing the newest chapter today for upload.

Everybody Loves Ty Lee - A series of short stories that all involve Ty Lee. This is my "break fic," the one that's my go-to when I want to get away from writing other stuff, but of course I'm procrastinating on this, too. Sigh.

Future: 

King and Lord (working title) - Inspired by FairLadyZ2005's story Kings' Crossing, I want to expand the parallels between Zuko and Kuei into a short three-parter. I need to research the symptoms of PTSD and Qing palace ceremonies for this one.

To Steal a Bride - Inspired by discussions with FLZ about a possible Iroh/Xian wedding story, since the two are married by the time of Iroh Meets His Match. (Incidentally, the "match" in the title is not his wife.) To Steal a Bride will be about Aang ritually bride-napping Katara. I posted the results of the research for this story on Eskimo bride capture here.

Scorned (working title) - This is about Mai breaking up with Zuko post-series. Inspired by a discussion with Kimberly T. about her story A Zutara is Worth a Thousand Words. I came to realize I can't really conceptualize Mai apart from Zuko and decided to remedy that. In some ways it explores the same theme as Amy Raine's Prisons of Choice, and revolves around Mai making a different choice. The Firelady in Scorned might or might not be Katara, but it won't matter since I'm not going to give her a name; a small act of karmic balance to all those Zutara stories where Mai is shipped out on a bus never to be seen again. :P
ljlee: (Default)
I remembered hearing that the Inuits or Eskimos had a custom where the groom staged a fake abduction of the bride. As background research for a short story about Aang and Katara getting married, I wanted to see if there was any support for the existence of this practice, and evidently there is--I found several references to bride capture among the Inuits, though there were some doubts about the veracity of the account. I also found a set of writings by Danish explorer Peter Freuchen who spent time with the Greenland Eskimos (in the story "An Eskimo Takes a Bride") and it... was crazy. Absolutely bloody crazy, involving a wild, violent fight while the groom carried the bride off, and bodily injury mostly to the groom. I had to keep reminding myself that the bride was willing, because otherwise it would be the most disturbing thing ever. (Well actually the most disturbing story in the collection would be the one where Freuchen takes a young Eskimo girl as his bride... sigh.)

So my Aang/Katara story isn't going to be exactly like "An Eskimo Takes a Bride," since Katara's people aren't actual Inuits or Eskimos (overlapping but separate designations, or so I've read) and Aang would cut off his hand before he hit Katara. But the idea of a clueless and gentle Aang having to stage a kidnapping with an exasperated Katara guiding him, and Sokka coming to her "defense," is too entertaining to pass up. Oh, and the characters are all going to be grown up, of course. My image of them as grownups is shaped by an excellent piece of fanart called Who Knows What We May Become. (The 2006 date would explain why Zuko is in his Season 2 look and why the grown Zuko appears to be a wandering swordsman.) Maybe a little younger than that picture, but definitely more mature than in the show.

The idea of the bride's brothers trying to fight the groom off comes not from any account of Inuit or Eskimo practice but from Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff, an Arthurian novel in a gritty historical style. There's a scene there where Artos must carry off Guenhumara from the wedding feast for their first night while her relatives try to stop him. It was all a consensual arrangement, of course, but Artos notes that there is some genuine feeling in her brother's struggle to keep Guenhumara from riding away. I see this as a safe, ritual way for Sokka to deal with mixed feelings about his little sister getting married.

So yeah, the story,  tentatively titled To Steal a Bride, is going to be fun to write, and hopefully it'll help me get un-stuck with my main novel-length project Shadow of the Dragon King. Below the fold are excerpts from the kidnapping sequence from "An Eskimo Takes a Bride" for those who don't have time for the whole thing. A word of warning: It's pretty violent, and a possible trigger for trauma.

Insane excerpts from "An Eskimo Takes a Bride" )
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)
I have the best boyfriend in the world. How do I know? He's the one who got me hooked on Avatar: The Last Airbender. I ended up getting way, way more into it than he ever did, but he was the one who got me started by introducing me to the show.

A few months ago, I had not finished Book 2 yet when I searched for relatively spoiler-safe Avatar posts and noticed a strange word, "Zutara." I put two and two together and realized that there were people who shipped Katara and Zuko. Evidently a lot of them. I called the boyfriend and reported this amazing fact, and he burst out laughing.
 
"Yeah," he said. "There was a little something between them." )
 

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L.J. Lee

June 2016

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