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456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +2 points

And so apparently is Earth Kingdom and still fighting.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +16 points

Turtleducks, Roosterpigs (or is it pigroosters), and a really good western - I LOVE this show! The Paean to The Western was even better than The Blind Bandit’s paean to pro-wrestling.

Meta on Zuko’s Hero Journey and Dysfunctional Families

Zuko is at a point in his journey where is cut off from his past completely. His mother is gone, most likely due to her protecting him. His father was never truly there. His sister has been a lifelong rival, who for the most part won. And he has left his uncle behind in a quest for his true self. At the beginning, he is outcast, alone, and no longer has a claim to any identity. He is not a blank slate, but an old over used slate with bits and pieces of the permanently embedded into it, but no clear vision of now or the future.

At the end, he remains outcast and alone, but has claimed both his identity and his quest: “My name is Zuko, son of Ursa and Firelord Ozai. Prince to the Fire Nation and Heir to the throne.”

Importantly, he names Ursa, his mother, first giving her precedence and, I think implicitly, if not explicitly, accepting her lessons and values. This is quite important in his Hero Quest, because Ursa’s lessons are ones of protection, caring, and honor. Like Uncle Iroh, there is balance in Ursa’s life and in her lessons. I can’t tell for sure, but I think this is the point I’ll look back on and say is when Zuko finally accepted the call to arms and claimed the quest for his own. He might not understand his real quest yet, but he’s starting to move past the snipe hunt and reclaim himself from the impossible expectations of his father.

The portrayal of Azula and Zuko’s rivalry was both painful and quite accurate to how perfectionist expectations by parent(s) work upon their children. A child who can meet the expectations consistently is showered with praise, attention, and rewards and shown off like a prize winning pet. A child who can’t is disparaged, ignored or scolded for the failure to reach the near (or completely) impossible goals, suffers punishment, which also almost invariably utterly disproportional to the ‘failure’ and unless unavoidable shoved to the side in any gathering; as much as possible out of the spotlight. Both ‘favored’ and ‘disfavored’ children are terribly damaged in this situation.

Children need their parent’s approval and I call it ‘need’ very purposefully. Children want parental approval to the extent that they willingly deform their bodies and spirits in order to gain it. In my mind, that’s a ‘need’. In this case, Azula is a prodigy, she can consistently meet the bar being set by her father and may in fact push it higher. That sounds great for her, but she’s in a very precarious position - one failure and it all comes tumbling down. And she knows it; she saw what happened when Zuko failed. Their father scarred him, cast him out, and sent him on a snipe hunt. Zuko as outcast knows he doesn’t measure up to his father’s standards and wants nothing more than to somehow gain his approval. Oddly of the two of them, Zuko is probably the one with the better chance to recover and build a personal identity that is powerful and based on his own internal wants and needs. He’s already outcast, he never had what they both wanted (and Azula values so much), and he has Iroh.

Iroh knows his brother and knows that for Zuko to ever receive that ‘honor’ (really parental approval) he wants so much he would have to twist himself into something he simply isn’t and should never be. I’m not too happy with Iroh’s doll for Azula, but the knife for Zuko has so many layers of meaning that it sent me over the moon. What a wonderful message, Never give up without a fight. I don’t think this simply means in battle - never give up on his training; never give up your identity, never give up your values. Simply never give up who you are without a fight. It’s a very powerful message.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +6 points

Bingo, so right. If his hero journey is to bring the Fire Kingdom back into balance, then he has to create himself as an Heir to the Fire Nation that the other nations can trust.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +9 points

I so agree. In families with impossible standards, it is in some ways (assuming you manage to survive) better to fail early and often. At least that way, you can get the 'getting disowned' part out of the way early enough to remake your own life. The more successful, favored child on the other hand knows exactly how precarious that perch is and has to keep rising to the occasion of what is no doubt an accelerating moving target. I know it sounds horribly harsh to say Zuko may be better off than Azula, but he's spent the last two years with Uncle Iroh and now has an opportunity to remake himself. Azula has spent the last two years under Ozai's eye, without their mother to intervene, and it would take something utterly shattering for her to have any chance to recreate herself. Of the two of them, I really think Zuko has the better chance for creating a life that includes joy.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +23 points

I adore Iroh, but his interactions with women have been somewhat sexist, not all, but enough that yeah, I think there were some gender assumptions involved in the gift of the doll. Thus far the two times I have been unhappy with Iroh have involved women - 1st the scene where he felt up the female bounty after she was paralyzed (so not on) and 2nd giving Azula a doll which was clearly not appropriate based on her interests. If it had just been the second, I would have given him a pass simply because I don't know how much he knows about Azula and I can see her mother attempting to redirect gift giving into non-hazardous presents. But with both, he had/may still have issues on this front.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +1 points

I'm so right there with you. I just think the family dynamics lend themselves to that sort of result.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +8 points

Option 1: She was telling the truth.

I think Option 1 is highly likely and that Mama killed Azulan to protect Zuko, which left the field open for Ozai. The internal dynamics of this family are very interesting and utterly dismaying.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +3 points

Thank you, I'm an abysmal speller and this will go into my lexicon for Avatar.

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +3 points

Thank you for the YouTube Links, I'm don't dare watch the second yet (I intend to take no spoiler risks). But the first was great!

456 weeks ago @ Mark Watches - Mark Watches 'Avatar':... · 0 replies · +15 points

I heart Toph so much, she's the perfect master for Aang. I love that he realized it at first laugh :) I'm apparently, a good bit older than Mark, because I was watching the same wrestlers he was as a child when I was dating someone post college (okay, post college, post law school, and five or six years into my second lawyer job). Loved The Rock and the The Boulder.

Short sort of Meta on Hero Quests:

Right now Team Avatar's seems to be going fairly well. Aang has a new teacher and Toph is one of the best characters I've seen. I suspect she is on her own quest, but really don't have enough data to feel certain. While they seem to be making progress they now have several problems on their trail. One, Azula and her team of more than capable of holding their own in any fight ladies, Toph's father's hunters, general bounty hunters, and of course Zuko remains determined (for now) on his snipe hunt. They apparently are preparing for very interesting times ahead. I am certain that I am NOT prepared.

I'm looking forward to an update on Zuko. I am cautiously optimistic about his split from Iroh. While I'm concerned he's simply trying to avoid Iroh's examples and excellent mentoring, this does place him in a position where he will, for the first time in his life, be completely responsible for his own well being. There's something freeing in that experience. It creates an enormous risk of failure, but it creates just as enormous a chance for reflection and change in direction. I so very much wish to find out what he decides to do with this opportunity. Why do I have the feeling that I am equally unprepared for the Zuko's adventures.

Also, I really, really want Iroh backstory. I will continue to call for more Iroh backstory until I get it (and may subsequently call for yet more). I have a sneaking suspicion that Iroh, Ba Sing Sing (am I spelling that right?- you may answer that question), and his trip to the spirit world are as interesting as any tale available.