Issue 13, Volume 17
All three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender are currently out on Netflix. Being the well-informed chap that I am, I also happen to know that there is a live-action remake in the works. So, being isolated and all, the time seemed right to finally see what all the fuss was about. My friends have, for years, implored me to watch the original Avatar. I’d blow them off with the old ‘it’s on the list’. Of course, there is no list, and if anyone ever says that to you, you have a moral obligation to call out their flagrant lies.
Anyway, within mere days, I’d watched all three seasons. I was hooked! Besides, I had an admin assignment to hide from. I probably don’t have to tell the well-rounded readers of De Minimis this, but Avatar: The Last Airbender is really good.  It features excellent character arcs, and Uncle Iroh has spurred in me a newfound love of jasmine tea. However, one small quibble holds back my unqualified approbation; a proverbial sky-bison pube in the broth, if you will.
The astute reader has likely already realised what I am referring to. I’m talking about the old jeune amour, the romantic subplot that I rely on in TV shows to thaw out my frozen lawyers’ heart. Now, I don’t want to be ‘cancelled’ for what’s about to come. I don’t want Ghanaian pallbearers dancing away with my coffin when this gets published. Still, I cannot just stand by and let this injustice slide past me.
Why, oh why, did Katara end up with Aang??
Despite his ham-fisted attempts to woo her throughout the show, she barely paid him the slightest bit of romantic attention. Aang came off as a kid with a crush, who still had a lot of emotional learning to do. Do you remember when you were twelve, and your mate’s older sister was the smartest, funniest, and awkward-erection-at-the-pool sexiest girl you’d ever seen? Well, Aang does, except his childish fantasy became reality.
I get that this show is for kids, and in hindsight, that throwing my laptop out the window was probably an overreaction. Even so, is this the message we should be teaching our children? That if you defeat the Fire Lord, the girl of your dreams will fall at your feet? If only life were that easy.
Throughout the series, Katara played mother to Aang, making him eat his vegetables, and do his homework. She made it pretty clear she didn’t think of him as much more than a ‘little brother’. However, despite her best efforts to keep the young Avatar on the straight and narrow, he still ended up living the dark criminal life of a thief of joy. Not only my joy as the viewer, but Katara’s future joy as Aang’s partner (read: nanny).
Perhaps I wouldn’t be so up in arms about the (male) head writers of the show living out their childhood fantasies, ifzut a far more fulfilling alternative weren’t laid out neatly in front of them! Zutara. Picture it: the fiery ex-villain Zuko, winning the forgiveness of the one character on the show who might be able to understand his pain at the loss of his mother. When the two of them connect, they break through the pain and rage of not just their own fraught beginnings, but the hundred-year conflict between their two peoples. Their relationship epitomises hope, and the kind of emotional maturity that Katara deserves.
Don’t pretend you don’t feel its irresistible attraction. Don’t pretend you’re too cool to care about romantic affiliations on a ten-year-old Nickelodeon faux-anime. I know your soul sings, as mine does, when you think back to Katara and Zuko’s almost-kiss in the catacombs beneath Ba Sing Se. You shed a tear at Zuko’s sacrifice, in taking a lightning bolt intended for the woman he secretly loves.
Zuko’s relationship with his eventual paramour, Mai, felt shoehorned-in. For what it’s worth, a far better shoehorn would have been Toph and Aang. Yes, their relationship would be exactly the kind of toxic high-school fast-burn which had you sneaking out of the house when you were sixteen, but at least they’re the same age! Besides, Air and Earth have a nice duality to them, as do Water and Fire…
This is, frankly, running far longer than I thought it would. So, I’ll end by saying that we can’t always get what we want. I get that. I’m a grown man. Avatar tied up all the other story threads well (except for the fate of Zuko’s mum). Even so, when I’m an MP, I intend to correct the writers’ one mistake by force of law.
 I have been advised by my girlfriend, however, to warn readers away from M. Night Shyamalan’s film adaptation, the existence of which is ‘an insult against God and Man.’
Max Ferguson is a second-year JD student.