i made sweet little lily pad thank-you cards! frog lovers, rejoice 🐸
(and, bonus, the card and envelope are both made out of recycled paper!)
Rb olayı aynı kar topunu karda yuvarlamak gibi bir şey o postu başkası rp yapinca yuvarlanmaya başlıyor başlıyor başlıyor… Ve post artık çığ oluyor.
ice cream date
There are plenty of reasons why I never realized this as a kid, but I’ve narrowed it down to a few reasons. One is that I was desperate to watch a show with characters that looked like me in it that wasn’t anime (nothing wrong with anime, it’s just not my thing). Another is that I am East Asian (I have Taiwanese and Korean ancestry) and in general, despite being the outward “bad guys”, the East Asian cultural aspects of Avatar are respected far more than South Asian, Middle Eastern, and other influences. A third is that it’s easy to dismiss the negative parts of a show you really like, so I kind of ignored the issue for a while. I’m going to explain my own perspective on these reasons, and why I think we need to have a nuanced discussion about it.
Obviously, the leadership behind ATLA was mostly white. We all know the co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino (colloquially known as Bryke) are white. So were most of the other episodic directors and writers, like Aaron Ehasz, Lauren Montgomery, and Joaquim Dos Santos. This does not mean they were unable to treat Asian cultures with respect, and I honestly do believe that they tried their best! But it does mean they have certain blinders, certain perceptions of what is interesting and enjoyable to watch. Avatar was applauded in its time for being based mostly on Asian and Native American cultures, but one has to wonder: how much of that choice was based on actual respect for these people, and how much was based on what they considered to be “interesting”, “quirky”, or “exotic”?
The aesthetic of the show, with its bending styles based on various martial arts forms, written language all in Chinese text, and characters all decked out in the latest Han dynasty fashions, is obviously directly derivative of Asian cultures. Fine. That’s great! They hired real martial artists to copy the bending styles accurately, had an actual Chinese calligrapher do all the lettering, and clearly did their research on what clothing, hair, and makeup looked like. The animation studios were in South Korea, so Korean animators were the ones who did the work. Overall, this is looking more like appreciation for a beautiful culture, and that’s exactly what we want in a rapidly diversifying world of media.
But there’s always going to be some cherry-picking, because it’s inevitable. What’s easy to animate, what appeals to modern American audiences, and what is practical for the world all come to mind as reasons. It’s just that… they kinda lump cultures together weirdly. Song from Book 2 (that girl whose ostrich-horse Zuko steals) wears a hanbok, a traditionally Korean outfit. It’s immediately recognizable as a hanbok, and these dresses are exclusive to Korea. Are we meant to assume that this little corner of the mostly Chinese Earth Kingdom is Korea? Because otherwise, it’s just treated as another little corner of the Earth Kingdom. Korea isn’t part of China. It’s its own country with its own culture, history, and language. Other aspects of Korean culture are ignored, possibly because there wasn’t time for it, but also probably because the creators thought the hanbok was cute and therefore they could just stick it in somewhere. But this is a pretty minor issue in the grand scheme of things (super minor, compared to some other things which I will discuss later on).
It’s not the lack of research that’s the issue. It’s not even the lack of consideration. But any Asian-American can tell you: it’s all too easy for the Asian kids to get lumped together, to become pan-Asian. To become the equivalent of the Earth Kingdom, a mass of Asians without specific borders or national identities. It’s just sort of uncomfortable for someone with that experience to watch a show that does that and then gets praised for being so sensitive about it. I don’t want you to think I’m from China or Vietnam or Japan; not because there’s anything wrong with them, but because I’m not! How would a French person like to be called British? It would really piss them off. Yet this happens all the time to Asian-Americans and we are expected to go along with it. And… we kind of do, because we’ve been taught to.
1. Growing Up Asian-American
I grew up in the early to mid-2000s, the era of High School Musical and Hannah Montana and iCarly, the era of Spongebob and The Amazing World of Gumball and Fairly Odd Parents. So I didn’t really see a ton of Asian characters onscreen in popular shows (not anime) that I could talk about with my white friends at school. One exception I recall was London from Suite Life, who was hardly a role model and was mostly played up for laughs more than actual nuance. Shows for adults weren’t exactly up to par back then either, with characters like the painfully stereotypical Raj from Big Bang Theory being one of the era that comes to mind.
So I was so grateful, so happy, to see characters that looked like me in Avatar when I first watched it. Look! I could dress up as Azula for Halloween and not Mulan for the third time! Nice! I didn’t question it. These were Asian characters who actually looked Asian and did cool stuff like shoot fireballs and throw knives and were allowed to have depth and character development. This was the first reason why I never questioned this cultural appropriation. I was simply happy to get any representation at all. This is not the same for others, though.
2. My Own Biases
Obviously, one can only truly speak for what they experience in their own life. I am East Asian and that is arguably the only culture that is treated with great depth in Avatar.
I don’t speak for South Asians, but I’ve certainly seen many people criticize Guru Pathik, the only character who is explicitly South Asian (and rightly so. He’s a stereotype played up for laughs and the whole thing with chakras is in my opinion one of the biggest plotholes in the show). They’ve also discussed how Avatar: The Last Airbender lifts heavily from Hinduism (with chakras, the word Avatar itself, and the Eye of Shiva used by Combustion Man to blow things up). Others have expressed how they feel the sandbenders, who are portrayed as immoral thieves who deviously kidnap Appa for money, are a direct insult to Middle Eastern and North African cultures. People have noted that it makes no sense that a culture based on Inuit and other Native groups like the Water Tribe would become industrialized as they did in the North & South comics, since these are people that historically (and in modern day!) opposed extreme industrialization. The Air Nomads, based on the Tibetan people, are weirdly homogeneous in their Buddhist-inspired orange robes and hyperspiritual lifestyle. So too have Southeast Asians commented on the Foggy Swamp characters, whose lifestyles are made fun of as being dirty and somehow inferior. The list goes on.
These things, unlike the elaborate and highly researched elements of East Asian culture, were not treated with respect and are therefore cultural appropriation. As a kid, I had the privilege of not noticing these things. Now I do.
White privilege is real, but every person has privileges of some kind, and in this case, I was in the wrong for not realizing that. Yes, I was a kid; but it took a long time for me to see that not everyone’s culture was respected the way mine was. They weren’t considered *aesthetic* enough, and therefore weren’t worth researching and accurately portraying to the creators. It’s easy for a lot of East Asians to argue, “No! I’ve experienced racism! I’m not privileged!” News flash: I’ve experienced racism too. But I’ve also experienced privilege. If white people can take their privilege for granted, so too can other races. Shocking, I know. And I know now how my privilege blinded me to the fact that not everybody felt the same euphoria I did seeing characters that looked like them onscreen. Not if they were a narrow and offensive portrayal of their race. There are enough good-guy Asian characters that Fire Lord Ozai is allowed to be evil; but can you imagine if he was the only one?
3. What It Does Right
This is sounding really down on Avatar, which I don’t want to do. It’s a great show with a lot of fantastic themes that don’t show up a lot in kids’ media. It isn’t superficial or sugarcoating in its portrayal of the impacts of war, imperialism, colonialism, disability, and sexism, just to name a few. There are characters like Katara, a brown girl allowed to get angry but is not defined by it. There are characters like Aang, who is the complete opposite of toxic masculinity. There are characters like Toph, who is widely known as a great example of how to write a disabled character.
But all of these good things sort of masked the issues with the show. It’s easy to sweep an issue under the rug when there’s so many great things to stack on top and keep it down. Alternatively, one little problem in a show seems to make-or-break media for some people. Cancel culture is the most obvious example of this gone too far. Celebrity says one ignorant thing? Boom, cancelled. But… kind of not really, and also, they’re now terrified of saying anything at all because their apologies are mocked and their future decisions are scrutinized. It encourages a closed system of creators writing only what they know for fear of straying too far out of their lane. Avatar does do a lot of great things, and I think it would be silly and immature to say that its cultural appropriation invalidates all of these things. At the same time, this issue is an issue that should be addressed. Criticizing one part of the show doesn’t mean that the other parts of it aren’t good, or that you shouldn’t be a fan.
If Avatar’s cultural appropriation does make you uncomfortable enough to stop watching, go for it. Stop watching. No single show appeals to every single person. At the same time, if you’re a massive fan, take a sec (honestly, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve taken many secs) to check your own privilege, and think about how the blurred line between cultural appreciation (of East Asia) and appropriation (basically everybody else) formed. Is it because we as viewers were also captivated by the aesthetic and overall story, and so forgive the more problematic aspects? Is it because we’ve been conditioned so fully into never expecting rep that when we get it, we cling to it?
I’m no media critic or expert on race, cultural appropriation, or anything of the sort. I’m just an Asian-American teenager who hopes that her own opinion can be put out there into the world, and maybe resonate with someone else. I hope that it’s given you new insight into why Avatar: The Last Airbender is a show with both cultural appropriation and appreciation, and why these things coexist. Thank you for reading!
spread holiday cheer by supporting a super small lesbian-owned business, and by flinging a variety of weird items at your friends and family
Lazerbeak is an autobot in this continuity? Adudjbjsd biggest twist in transformers history
@monstrosibee It is! It’s not good?? But bad in all the way that make a show fun for me and it has some genuenly sweet interactions too?? I think I like it a lot. Also the main human character is called rad
fucked up how once im an adult i could just like….. leave the house at night. like i could just be up at midnight and be like “damn i want mcdonalds” and go to mcdonalds…….. shit’s crazy
a lot of people were wondering what ishi and ryoshi really look like, so… here they are!
(ishis pronouns are he/him, and ryoshis pronouns are she/her)
Working on a little animated Evoker:)
Ve aklım daima sende🌙
endeavor is a horrible father + reductress headlines
Ash: my legacy is probably going to be getting carpal tunnel from doing the jerk off motion for twelve consecutive hours while Eric keeps spouting bullshit
Kenny: what the absolute fuck man
EDIT: I have been informed that this particular desing of “plague nurse” (wich a lot of people have done) bears a strong similarity to the traditional clothing of the celebration of St Lucie in Bohemia and Moravia (Czech Republic)
This is the picture that this drawing draws inspiration from.
The problem is that this is not a Plague nurse, but a traditional Czech costume, I was unaware of this when I made this drawing. Im sorry for the cultural misconcception.
Can u do a cat version of Crowevert
I just remembered I drew a cat Crowevert a long while back: