Avatar: The Last Airbender in my opinion uses the same technique as Star Wars, which is creating complex yet beautiful storyline and deliver it in high quality. Avatar is somewhat simpler and softer than Star Wars, and sometimes simple and soft thing is easier to watch, isn’t it? 🙂
Beyond the simple, soft, and easy-to-watch side of Avatar, in this post I’d like to show some socio-cultural-political phenomena in our contemporary life, which are exercised and incorporated into Avatar’s storyline. Whether those phenomena are good or bad, I hope we remember and understand that some of them are still taking place in our life.
Colonization: The whole series is about the act of colonization by the Fire Nation, which is being resisted by Avatar’s group and the remaining power of Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom. I point out some facts about the colonialist (Fire Nation): they are the most industrialized nation, they intend to spread their wealth (?) across their country’s border (episode 306), and they think that they are better people than people from their colony (episode 302).
Gender inequality: On episode 118, it is stated clearly by Master Pakku of the Northern Water Tribe that Katara (a girl) cannot learn water bending martial art technique. A girl only can learn the water bending healing technique. Later Katara fights Master Pakku and changes his mind.
Arranged relationship/marriage: The royal members of the more civilized Northern Water Tribe practice arranged marriage, which in some cases are against the will of the subjects. Interestingly, the ‘less civilized’ Southern Water Tribe don’t practice that custom: they are free to choose their own companion.
Class segregation: Episode 214 pictured act of class segregation clearly and obviously: the residents of Ba Sing Se live on different parts of the city according to their class. Parts of the city are separated by high, thick, and impenetrable city walls. Residents must pass through some customs to level their class and thus live in ‘higher’ part of the city. It is also interesting to mention that the lowest class live in the outer ring, the middle class live in the middle ring, and the highest class live in the inner ring.
Military and security intelligent process-based regime: Episode 214-218 also pictured the act of governing a civilization based on military and security intelligent process. Citizens are kept extremely in order by Dae Li (the secret service), even with controversial process such as brain-wash. Many important informations are kept secret by the government, indeed the residents are kept to have wrong information. The Dae Li even have the Earth King (the head of nation) as puppet government to maintain order within Ba Sing Se.
International secret organization: Have been mentioned sometimes in some episodes, The Order of the White Lotus finally expose their identity in episode 318: a group of ‘great and important’ people from the four nation that do some extremely great and organized action that have been decided by them before. On episode 318 four members of The Order are able to liberate Ba Sing Se which is heavily guarded by army of colonial Fire Nation.
Of course there are still many phenomenas exercised in the series. I’m happy to discuss it on the comment section. Happy watching! 🙂