The Ideologies Behind Legend of Korra Eerily Relevant
Ever since Netflix added Avatar: The Last Airbender to its lineup, the series has been a hot topic on social media. In fact, the spinoff series, Legend of Korra has also been the focus of attention but for very different reasons.
Legend of Korra debuted in 2012 and boasted a crisper animation style and some shockingly adult themes. Although The Last Airbender touched on serious subjects such as imperialism and genocide, LoK really kicked it up a notch.
It’s those themes that have fans of LoK noticing how eerily similar they are to events happening in real life right now. Here’s how each of the four books of Legend of Korra resemble real life issues …
Book One: Air — Equality
In the world of Avatar, some people are blessed with bending abilities, allowing them to manipulate one of the four elements — Earth, Water, Fire or Air. In The Last Airbender, we are so focused on the awesome abilities of Aang and the rest of the crew, we often forget there are those who don’t possess bending abilities at all.
However, in Lok Book One, the writers dive into the idea of non-benders resenting their bending counterparts. Those blessed with the ability to bend are often given more opportunities in life than those without.
For example, benders are the cornerstone to a functioning society. They use their bending power cities, makeup the police force and in the case of Pro Bending, become famous sports stars.
Non-benders are left in the dust, working regular jobs with no bending powers to climb any ladders.
In other words, if you happen to be a bender, you are far more likely to achieve prosperity and success. If you aren’t … well, you have to work a lot harder to be on the same level. Sound familiar?
Book One introduces the character Amon, an ‘Equalist’ hellbent on leveling the playing field. He possesses the power to strip the bending abilities from a person. His ultimate goal is to rid the world of benders, and create a world where everyone has the same chance of achieving success.
The issue with Amon’s philosophy is his approach to the cause. He resorts to acts of terrorism, ignoring citizen’s rights. Instead of fighting for the cause in a civilized manner, he gives himself the power to make the ultimate decision on how to achieve equality.
Easier said than done …
Book Two: Spirits — Civil War / Imbalance
Fans of Avatar know that the spirit world plays a major role in the universe. Spirits can be seen as nature, and peace. In the world of Avatar, humans are meant to live in harmony with spirits, but Book Two takes a deeper look at their coexistence.
Korra’s uncle, Unalaq, claims that there is imbalance between humans and spirits. As a bender who has a deep connection to the spirits, he wants to fix that.
Humans live their lives as if they own everything, and assume they can do anything they want without any thought about consequences.
We’re shown how the destruction of land and sacred places are disrupting the peace with the spirits. It’s because of this that the spirits are beginning to act out against humans. Although his bias leans heavily on one side, his ideology leaves an impression on Korra.
You could make the correlation to global warming and being environmentally conscious to the themes in Book Two, but that’s about it. Overall, this is the weakest season, aside from the awesome world-building.
Book Three: Change — Anarchy / Freedom
Legend of Korra Book Three has easily the most blatant connection to the real world. In fact, it’s eerie how relevant it feels to events happening in the world at this very moment.
A terrorist by the name of Zaheer escapes from prison and hatches a plan to dismantle the world’s governments. He despises the Earth Kingdom’s monarchy and feels that the world’s various governments are oppressing its citizens.
Zaheer even seeks to rid the world of the Avatar herself. He claims her power over the world is no longer necessary and plans to end the Avatar cycle once and for all. The problem is they both want the same thing — balance. They just have completely different ideas on how to achieve it.
It’s strange how much sense Zaheer makes at times, even though he is clearly blinded by his passion. The season gets VERY dark when he murders a world leader, sending an entire nation into anarchy.
Although Zaheer’s intentions are noble, they do not justify his actioins. In the end, he will change the entire world and set off a series of events leading into the fourth and final season.
Book Four: Balance — Facism / Dictatorship
Legend of Korra Book Four is the most realistic of the series. After Zaheer creates chaos in the Earth Kingdom and sidelines Korra for a good amount of time, no one is left to pick up the pieces.
With Korra recovering from the injuries sustained from her fight with Zaheer, a metalbending soldier named Kuvira takes responsibility for bringing order. However, Kuvira’s ambition goes to her head.
She wants to restore order to the Earth Kingdom by any means necessary … even if it means forcing the entire nation into compliance. Kuvira decides the Earth Kingdom’s rightful ruler isn’t an effective leader, so she steps in to take control.
Just like the antagonists in the previous seasons, her intentions mean well, but she’s on track to become a full on dictator. Her demands are simple — you fall under her rule, or be beaten into submission.
Avatar: Legend of Korra, hate it or love it, is an incredibly relevant series, especially in today’s climate. There’s a reason the Avatar series has become one of the most iconic and influential animated shows of all time.