Monday, January 26, 2015

Why I Didn't Hate the End of Korra - a religious perspective

Do not read this if you haven't finished Korra yet/don't want spoiler for it. Because spoilers there will very definitely be.

So, as you are already aware (since I just told anyone who didn't want spoilers to go away), the finale episode of the Legend of Korra took a turn that a lot of us did not see coming.

There were hints, like "Sorry I only ever wrote letters to Asami while I was gone", etc. Though let's be honest, they were really subtle ones for the oblivious amongst us. (I'm oblivious to EVERYTHING.) Ones that were, except for that blush, pretty indistinguishable from what happens when two people are the bestest of best friends, which Korra and Asami are.

Exhibit A:

(And I'll be honest here, I really liked Korra's hair better when it was all water-tribe-ey. It's just a thing. Carry on.)

So when this happened:

Ya know, I was pretty blindsided by it.

And yet, I wasn't at the same time. That was weird, and forced me to explore the reasons why.

See, I'm quite devoutly religious. And I live in a community where over 50% of the people around me are too. So I got a LOT of negative reactions, when we all watched the episode. A lot of "Aw, why'd they have to go all gay on us?" or "I was really disappointed in the writers," or "I felt really uncomfortable during the finale."

Which was very confusing for me, and the main reason I'm writing this post. Because A) I didn't feel all creeped out or angry like everyone else seemed to, and B) jeez, but doesn't all that sound a whole lot like hate speech, which devoutly religious people ought not to propagate?

Therefore, I now present to you the reasons why I didn't hate the end of Legend of Korra:

Firstly and foremostly, I just freaking love Asami, and Korra too. I don't agree with every choice either of them have ever made. Especially Korra, before she mellowed out. But I care about both Asami and Korra as deeply as anyone can care about fictional people. Maybe a little more, because I'm weird that way, and develop very serious bonds with my fictional folks.

Therefore, I just physically cannot be as upset about their choices as some feel I ought to be. When they smile, I smile. When they cry, I cry. When they feel loved and needed by someone, I feel warm and fuzzy because who doesn't want that for the people they care about?

Even when your loved ones do something wrong, which makes you sad because you know they're going to get hurt, you don't disown them and hurl hate speech. You love them into making better choices. (And yeah, sometimes that takes the form of tough love. But it's still love, not anger.)

I mean, how can you really, honestly claim to love anyone whose happiness doesn't also make you feel happier? That's the way real love goes.

But let's now get on to the Komodo Rhino in the room.

Religion is an awfully hard thing to discuss in civilized company, because the people who believe are certain that God has issued commandments which we are better off to follow, and the people who don't believe are certain that dumb humans just came up with those arbitrary commandments in order to more effectively judge people they don't like.

There's not just an impasse here. It's like the valles marineris.

What we have to do in these situations is understand that not everyone has the same beliefs that we do, AND that that's their god-given right. People are allowed to believe what they want to believe, even if it's wrong, or stupid, or gets them killed, or whatever.

That's tough, though. Tough for religious people, and tough for the non-religious. (Yes, non-religious people are just as bad. Please, PLEASE stop automatically assuming that I'm a neanderthal just because I have faith.) But yeah, no one has an easy time dealing with this.

How do we know when to stop accepting what people do as "they just believe different", and start actually trying to change it? Where is the line? Who can say when the fence has been jumped?

So when a predominantly religious community gets t-boned by their favorite show taking a 90 degree bat-turn, the gut reaction is disappointment. And I get that, to a certain level. Like I said, it's not easy for anyone.

But homosexuality isn't the only thing that there are commandments about. We also believe that it's stupid to do drugs. That it's wrong to sleep together before marriage. That murder is wrong. That cheating people is wrong.


When two people are falling in love throughout a rom-com, and that end scene finally happens where they kiss, and disappear into the bedroom, everyone is like 'FINALLY. Jeez.' or 'awwww! Yay!'

When Tom Cruise shoots people through the entire movie because that's the only thing he knows how to do in movies...

When a bunch of macho guys decide that robbing the most secure casino on the vegas strip is a good idea...

When Mel Gibson is avenging his son's death, and goes into psycho over-kill mode on the Brit soldiers he's hacking apart...

When the guy is married and the girl is engaged, but they run off together anyway... (And lest anyone mistake me, I super adore Shakespeare in Love, despite these things.)

You know what? This list could go on for a long time. So I'mma stop while I'm ahead.

The point is, why don't we get upset at these things in the same way? I'll tell you why. Because we're used to them. They've been in the common social consciousness since the beginning of time, whereas homosexuality honestly has not. Existed, yes, and prevalently in some places. But been in the limelight, not so much.

Stories are built around conflict. Without conflict, there is no reason to watch any of these movies or tv shows. And so, when that conflict finally resolves itself, we rejoice, even if the ending is less than moral.

We're doing our best to do the "allowing others to believe different stuff" thing. We say to ourselves "They don't believe in the same standards that we do, so I can't justly hold them to the same scale, right?"

And on that note, I'd like to ask if Korra is really any different here?

No. No it isn't.

Mike and Bryan weren't setting out to be all "ooh, let's have our MC do evil things." They were doing the same thing that the writers of Shakespeare in Love did. That the writers of almost every rom-com ever did. That the writers of the average sitcom do.

Most people these days don't think that waiting until marriage is a useful thing. So when they have the MC's sleep together in their movie, it's just the entirely natural progression of the developing relationship of the characters.

Mike and Bryan don't believe that there is anything amiss about two girls falling in love. And so, the Korra finale is just the next logical and reasonable step in the progression of two characters.

And you know what? I happen to agree. I mean, yeah, it bothers me a little that other people don't get what I get, and don't believe what I believe. But if we take that out of the equation, like we do with every other sort of televised immorality, Korrasami only makes complete and total sense. Like, why wouldn't that be the natural course of things?

Basically, if you're gonna get mad over Korra, you should be getting mad over everything else too. Anger at one of these things but not the other ones is like trying to jump rope with that line. You gotta choose a side. And if you're gonna choose the side of  "Look, I get that some people don't think this is wrong, so I won't judge them," then you have to include Korra in it.

So there you have it. That's the gist of it. For a further delve into my personal reactions to everything, please see my next post. Otherwise,

So here are some of the other reasons why I totally get Korrasami. Actually, there's one, mainly, but I'll break it down a little.

That one being this: Asami is literally perfect. I'm for reals serious about this.

I have a really hard time being upset about a show that finally gave us some really amazing characters.

Asami is everything that any female ever wished for/needed to be. She is the ultimate "strong female character", by which we mean 'character who is strongly developed and deeply real, and happens to be female'. There aren't as many of those as you might think.

When you very first meet her in season one, you see how pretty she is, and you're all like "GREAT. That's all we need. Another Megan-Fox-in-transformers movie. No, Megan, you don't count as a strong female character! Leave now, and never come back."

Asami looked like the quintessential femme fatale, whose gorgeousness and sexy wiles are going to make trouble for the guys, show up all the girls, and convince women around the world that they're only worth something if they're as hot as she is."

But then you find out that, even though she's insanely rich, she's actually very generous. And even though her dad ends up being in cahoots with the bad guys, and she loves her dad very much, she's tough enough to do the right thing.

She's probably the sweetest person in the whole show, and I feel like that even includes Jinora.

She legitimately cares about other people, and will help them any time she can. Including riding to the rescue on polarbear dogs.

She's an actual genius.

She's a CEO.

She lets refugees stay in her house until they can get back on their feet.

And, by the way, her house is HUGE.

She helps the Avatar hunt down bad guys, and can acquit herself amazingly in a fight.

She drives like the Fast and the Furious.

And not just cars. Airplanes, airships, and personal hummingbirds too.

She's upbeat.

She's thoughtful.

She's got a sense of humor.

She's got serious chutzpa.

She's still gorgeous on top of all of that.

And, she does it all fully clothed. I seriously dare any of you to list some desirable quality that Asami does not have. Ya know, besides element bending. Because obviously the point is that she's a non-bender and still owns everyone.

My point, ladies and gentlemen, is that she's on my list. If she were not a cartoon, I would be head over heals in love with Asami Sato. Actually, being a cartoon is not that relevant. She's utterly perfect. So.

I want to be her, and to love someone just like her.

I haven't had all that many bestest best friends in my life. Only a few, and it's exactly the same way with all of them. I'm not romantically attracted to them, because that's just not in the cards. But they have taught me what real love means. I consider myself amazingly lucky to be a part of their lives, and that's where Korra and Asami were, as well.

Now, if I had a bestest best friend of all time who was literally perfect, AND who I was capable of being romantically attracted to, is it not the next natural progression of relationship to pursue that romantic level? If it were a guy and a girl, everyone would answer yes. People would be agog and aghast if they did not take it farther.

So, Korrasami. It makes complete and total sense, in that context.

Yes, I still have traditional christian beliefs. But no, I'm not going to be all "Mike and Bryan are evil and I hate them for believing different things than I do!"

Yes, I do still wish that people knew and understood what I do, so we could just all believe the same thing and be happy. But no, I'm not going to be all holier than thou because they don't.

And that is where I'll wrap up for today. Peace out. And have some more of these fanarts that I'm really loving. :P

Avatar fan art digital Korra the legend of korra mako Bolin Asami Sato

Avatar fan art digital Korra the legend of korra mako Bolin Asami Sato

Avatar fan art digital Korra the legend of korra mako Bolin Asami Sato
(Have I mentioned that Bolin is one of my most favorites also? Cuz, yeah. He is. And Mako is lame.)