A Sad Thing Is Sad
The most powerful image of Legend of Korra (Avatar: Legend of Korra) to me, the absolutely most. powerful image. Is the seemingly ordinary citizens of Republic City, watching a sporting event, and then slowly, methodically, one by one, spotted here and there in the crowd - The Equalists Reveal Themselves.
Men. Women. Young. Older. They pull up those scarfs into masks, and reach for their gloves and suddenly they’re no longer just anyone, just a face in the crowd.
Yes, I said it. Not terrorists. Revolutionaries.
The thing about struggle, is that the oppressors’ terrorists, are the oppressed’s revolutionaries/freedom fighters.
There is SO much wrong within Korra. Especially, (specifcally) how the concept of Bender privilege was absolutely shunted to the side and glossed over into a (it’s about meanness - just be ‘nice’ to everyone and things will somehow equalize) bullshit end game.
But I don’t think the writers and perhaps even the animators realized how powerful an image it was, to see the young woman you think is a sweet little fan - become a warrior. To see the older geeky fellow - become a revolutionary. To see some seemingly ordinary young guy - become a freedom fighter. [If images don’t match up, it’s because I’m not going back to look, I’m going from my emotional memory of the scene]
And then they move with precision, they take out the guards, bap bap bap. They secure the area. The Revolution is ORGANIZED.
And then right there, in that moment (despite all the bullshit misogny, rape culture, forcing Korra into the mode of damsel in distress etc… surrounding him) the Voice, and the Mask of the Revolution counters the oppressors in their sanctuary. In their place of power.
I mean, it’s a little bit of V for Vedentta right there. And a little bit of the unionized manual workers taking over the factory. And a little bit like if Take Back The Night, involved groups of women showing up in male dominanted areas (of say a college campus) with a list of sites and a few images of the porn found on their computers that was just sent to their moms with a ‘Do You Know What Your Son’s Been Doing?’ and the witnesses statements of the women they’ve harassed, molested and abused.
It’s a “This is what you’ve created. This is what you’ve let happen. This is your great civilization that can do no ACCEPTED OR NOTICED WRONG. And it’s corrupt, decripit, a hollow shell. You’ve been living in a dreamworld, Neo.”
It’s a “This is the festering wound you’ve been cowed into ignoring, or hoped you could ignore as long as you could somehow get yours too.”
And in that moment, Amon’s ‘taking away bending’ seems so utterly symbolic of (the people’s power, the power of the oppressed when organized, when active) the ability to confront and be unafraid and say I’m taking this. This unearned power. It will exist NO MORE.
Thinking about it now, I can just imagine a wailed angished cry of:
But my whiteness!
But my male privilege!
But my finacial leg up!
But my THING I BELEIVED MADE ME BETTER AT STANDING THAN YOU, THE THING I BELIEVED MADE ME MORE THAN HUMAN AND YOU A MERE ANIMAL!
And the sad thing that is sad? Is the fact that imagery was created and invoked by merging a chipped piece of this struggle here and that moment of confrontation there and this commentary and that prose againt oppression. That imagery was invoked for a ‘coolness’ factor - an almost horror factor. That image, in revealing so much about what the creators obviously didn’t understand or give a damn about? In reavealing what they think standing up against injustice is really about (which is apparently being driven to meet force with force from not being listented to being a terror on the unsuspecting innocent, vs a slap in the face of the ignorer). That image should have been EMPTY. But it wasn’t, because of where it came from, the reality (realities) it was built upon.