i'm mildly confused (but also only recently finished LOK), what was so problematic about book 4? not a criticism, honestly just curious since i haven't spent much time looking at it objectively :)
hi! okay so this opens up a huge can of worms but I’m going to try and keep it to the main points about korra.
the most important thing to note is context. korra is a brown, bi, and gender nonconforming woman. she is brash and stubborn and sometimes overly self-confident, so many things that girls and women are not allowed to be. she is a rare character in the face of western tv and she was groundbreaking.
she is also a character who was relentlessly shat upon during books 1-2. She was whitewashed in fanart, she was sexualized and made a slave in AUs online, people wanted her to be more like aang or asami, she was called a bad avatar because she couldn’t connect to aang right away and unalaq destroyed her past lives, etc.
so, book 4:
- she was sidelined. not enough time was dedicated to her story and emotional arc and too much time was spent on the antics of varrick, zhu li and prince wu and while they might’ve been entertaining, more time should’ve been spent on the protag in the last season of the show
- the way her conversation with tenzin in the finale is worded implies that she needed to be tortured and almost killed by the red lotus in order to be compassionate. which is bullshit because korra was compassionate from the very beginning.
that second one is the most important. some quotes first:
Mako: Do you think you’re finally able to forget about what Zaheer did to you?
Korra: No. But I am finally able to accept what happened and I think that’s gonna make me stronger.
Korra: …I finally understand why I had to go through all that. I needed to understand what true suffering was so I could be more compassionate to others, even to people like Kuvira.
it’s one thing for a real life individual to accept something that happened to them and realize that they are now a different/more experienced person because of it. it is a completely different thing for the idea that you have to go through trauma in order to learn a lesson to be consciously written into a woc’s final narrative arc by male writers.
suffering is never ever something that you deserve. it is not something that NEEDED to happen to you it is something that DID. korra already knows what “true suffering” is; she already got her bending taken away and lost her connection to her past lives. and she felt bad for tarrlok even before all that shit happened.
and unfortunately lok is not the only case in western tv of woc getting sidelined and brutalized (see: abbie mills in sleepy hollow, raven reyes in the 100). there was an opportunity to avoid falling into this trap/trope and the showrunners didn’t take it.
if you feel like reading, there’s a really great reblog chain here that goes more in-depth into the problems with korra’s narrative in b4 and how it failed to critique (literally anything) but particularly power fantasies. Which was, imo, an important part of korra’s character. power fantasy characters ’’’’for girls’’’’ should exist without them having to be knocked down a peg.