“The Legend of Korra,” the sequel to the Nickelodeon animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” aired its final episode near the end of last year.
The first two of the show’s four seasons, referred to as “books” aired on Nickelodeon, but the last five episodes of Book Three and all of Book Four were moved to an online platform.
While reports attribute the show’s removal to Book Three’s low ratings, the season finale left some fans thinking otherwise.
“The Legend of Korra” ended with protagonist Korra and one of her best friends, Asami, holding hands and entering into the Spirit World for a vacation with just the two of them, hinting that the two had romantic feelings for each other.
The show made headlines again in early March when a “Legend of Korra” and “Avatar: The Last Airbender” tribute exhibition at Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra featured a poster by Konietzko. The poster depicted Korra and Asami together in the Spirit World and will be auctioned off to benefit LGBTQA+ suicide prevention hotlines.
So, why exactly should an adult demographic care about a fictional universe on a children’s TV show?
I was born into and raised in a Filipino family in Artesia, a community with a very strong Filipino population. I, like many other children, loved watching Disney princess movies. My toy chest was filled with Disney princess Barbie dolls and carriage and castle-shaped cake toppers from birthdays past.
One year, I dressed as Snow White for my preschool’s Halloween parade, and was surprised to find that some of my classmates didn’t approve of my costume. A few of them called me Snow Brown because my dark complexion did not match the Disney princess’s European features.
Situations of varying extents similar to this, I imagine, are not uncommon among young people of color. “The Legend of Korra” is one example of a program that gives children role models that actually look like them.
Though the last two seasons didn’t see any network air time, this is a step toward minority representation in the media. Not only does “The Legend of Korra” portray women and people of color in scientific, military, political and entrepreneurial positions of power, it also shows young viewers that girls can like other girls and that’s okay.
Did Korra’s bisexuality deter her from kicking ass and saving the world from near destruction on countless occasions? No, because who she loves is simply one facet of who she is as a person and her success in restoring balance to the world was not invalidated because she had a girlfriend.
The fact that this type of representation occurred in a show with a young target audience is significant because it plants the seeds of accepting diversity in the next generation of American society.
Our parents’ and grandparents’ generations already have deeply rooted ideals about what’s moral and what isn’t. Morals which make accepting same-sex marriage, women and people of color in positions of power etc., more difficult.
By introducing acceptance and tolerance of diversity in the fictional universes that today’s children grow up with, these values will become rooted in their upbringing and socialization and become the ideas that they will pass onto their children and future generations.
As the critically thinking adults we are, it is important that these media milestones continue to occur, and we don’t even need to personally write to television networks to do so.
The power to share is at our fingertips and we can share whatever we want with whoever we want instantaneously thanks to the Internet: Facebook statuses, video clips of the show, tweets directly to the creators and television networks. The possibilities are countless.
We don’t normally think about this, but these shares, video views and posts find their way to these content creators. It’s like giving a sticker to a preschooler for putting their toys away. Positive feedback reinforces good behavior and audience-generated publicity for their content drives creators to continue their behavior and inspires others to follow in their footsteps.
The younger generation needs heroes; real heroes that show them that “different” doesn’t mean “outsider.” They need heroes that will instill qualities like tolerance and understanding that they can share and pass on, but whether or not they get to see these heroes is in the hands of our generation.
After all, progress, like Korra and Asami, goes both ways.