On Subtext, Authorial Intent, and Korrasami
A follow-up to my essay, “Rethinking Korrasami”
Keep in mind, Bryke didn’t know how much Korrasami they could show at all (if any) as they were developing Book 3. And we know they only “fought harder” when they got into Book 4′s development. So in that case,if they didn’t think we could get the canonically explicit Korrasami, they’d have to resort to nothing but subtext to tell their story, right?
Now, if you’re asking “do you really think the intended narrative is that Korra and Asami began dating in 3x10?” On the whole…no. Here’s the thing: gauging authorial intent is a tricksy little hobbit, especially when the authors were constantly amending their story. We are lucky though, because Bryan gave us some insight:
“The more Korra and Asami’s relationship progressed, the more the idea of a romance between them organically blossomed for us. However, we still operated under this notion, another “unwritten rule,” that we would not be allowed to depict that in our show. So we alluded to it throughout the second half of the series, working in the idea that their trajectory could be heading towards a romance” (emphasis mine).
With this, we understand that they only “alluded” to Korrasami in the canon because they didn’t think they could do any more. That’s baldly stated. So Bryke couldn’t write the romance they conceived of, or at least a story more immediately recognizable as a romance to the audience at large.
Ironically, this kind of worked in their
favor in that it allowed for the Korrasami narrative we got to be one of the
most realistic depictions of same-gendered romantic intrigue between two
friends I’ve ever seen. The constraints holding Bryke back were the same
exact constraints society places on us, which is why not immediately
understanding feelings, more subtle flirting and looks, and greater
ambiguity surrounding the friend/partner dynamic are common features to modern day queer relationships. The same features found in the Korrasami narrative, largely due to the limits placed on the storytellers.