Let’s start with the facts as directly provided by the show:
- Korra was discovered by the Order of the White Lotus at the age of four.
- The OWL kept her in a compound in the Southern Water Tribe for the dual purposes of training and protection and were quite strict about keeping her under constant watch.
- Korra’s parents lived outside of the compound, but Korra was still emotionally close to them.
- Korra considered Naga to be her best friend; there’s no evidence that the OWL provided her with peers inside the compound or allowed her to make excursions outside to interact with anyone her age.
Now, given these facts, what kind of assumptions can be made about Korra’s background?
- Given that, as per point 2, Korra’s protection is at least as important as her training, it is quite likely that she was taken to the compound as soon as it became an option. It can therefore be assumed that Korra was either immediately taken into the OWL’s custody after her discovery or brought in immediately following the construction of the compound. Either way, she’s likely been raised by the OWL since the age of four (per point 1).
- Per point 3, the OWL kept Korra separate from her parents. Given the size of the compound, there’s no reason her parents shouldn’t have been given living space inside the compound itself unless the OWL wanted to limit the amount of time they could spend with Korra. In fact, given that Korra wasn’t completely cut off from her parents, allowing them to live outside the OWL’s protection creates a potential security risk that the OWL ought to have tried to avoid if possible (since it would be quite a problem if the Avatar’s closest family members were taken hostage). Presumably, Korra’s parents don’t live with her because the OWL doesn’t want her to get too attached (which offers the further implication that the OWL might be averse to close non-familial attachments as well, limiting Katara’s ability to take a mothering role towards Korra).
- Point 4 directly implies that Korra was never really allowed much in the way of close peer interactions, either. It’s quite possible that, if all of her teachers and sparring partners were adults far outside of her age range (as was implied by her firebending test), she never had any close human friends whatsoever.
And here’s the upshot of all that:
Korra has, for all intents and purposes, been denied consistent affection since the age of four in favor of conditional praise.
Her upbringing was, therefore, emotionally neglectful if not outright abusive (and I sure hope that the OWL didn’t treat her the same when she was five as it did during her firebending test). The OWL might have meant well, but they had no idea how to raise a child and messed it up as badly as they possibly could given a legitimate desire to do what was best for her.
It shouldn’t be any surprise that Korra has identity issues and a need for validation as the Avatar; she learned from a very young age not to count on her parents love, and ended up filling in the hole by impressing people with her bending. This is, as can be expected, something of a recipe for disaster in terms of raising a well-adjusted individual.
To make matters worse, the majority of the praise that Korra did get would have been in the context of violence, given that her demonstrated talents are all martial in nature. Her life was highly controlled, except insofar as she could impress the OWL by showing up her sparring partners or use force/manipulation to get what she wanted over the OWL’s objections. Violence would have been, essentially, the only way for Korra to define herself and take charge of her own life, which inevitably caused her need for validation to become all the more dangerous.
Or, in other words, by trying to train Korra into the perfect Avatar, the OWL itself crafted her into exactly the sort of person who goes to extremes to get what she wants, doesn’t take no for an answer, and has little experience dealing with people as peers as opposed to obstacles. Korra might be a highly flawed protagonist, but it can’t be said that she doesn’t have a good reason for being the way she is.
[ Now Rebloggable! ]
Y’know, during this scene I actually started thinking about ways they could have salvaged Mako’s arc and actually maybe have integrated him into the narrative and… you know what?
If they wanted to make Mako an exceptionally good firebender, they should have just gone all the way and made it an important part of his characterization rather than a vaguely informed character trait.
oops All of Mako’s traits are vaguely informed.Have Mako be a firebending prodigy. Have this get him exactly nowhere but in trouble due to his and Bolin’s status as street urchins. He spent his entire childhood being taken advantage of in one way or another just to survive. By the Triads, by factories, hell - they could even have played Pro Bending as just a means to an end rather than something he’s really passionate about. The show implied early on that Mako had done some ugly stuff to keep Bolin innocent. This could have been nicely paralleled/contrasted with Amon and Tarlokk’s relationship. It also would have given Korra and Mako some real tension; after all, her entire life is bending when to him, it’s always been something he hasto do and it usually means someone wants something from him. His relationship with Asami has a different dimension in this scenario as well, since she’s “the girl with everything” when they first meet. They have fun together. She shows him what to do with all that time he never had because he was too busy making sure that Bolin never had to work as hard as he did. Adding a few layers to Mako helps Bolin get a decent arc as well. Bolin grew up a homeless orphan, but his brother worked hard to shelter him to almost an absurdly detrimental degree. What if Bolin had lost his bending back in the first half of the series? Mako fails to protect his brother for the first time in his life and the dynamic between them changes as Bolin learns to protect himself/live without bending. Mako’s paternalistic and controlling protective streak could have been played as an interesting flaw.
Because here is the thing: as much as I hate Mako and am sick of his face, he and Bolin needed to have stronger arcs than they got. They could have potentially provided an interesting counterpoint to Amon’s argument. They show another side of the story - benders who have lived in squalor, who have had to sell their talents and barely manage to scrape by despite having a “natural advantage” over non-benders. Hell - their actual backstory is identical to the one that Amon concocted for himself. Addressing their backstory again helps Asami (my darling Asami) along as well because she and the brothers share a tragedy in common, something that never comes up???
Long story short: it took me about thirty seconds to think up a character arc for Mako that ties into the over-arching themes of the series. C’mon, Bryke - I even made sure to leave enough man-pain in for you.
It legitimately upsets me when I think of how much missed potential there is surrounding the brothers (Hell, everyone really). It would have been so easy to make Mako likable, to give Bolin something to do. Just…gaaahh.
My car was broken into today (7/21) at a mall in Orange County, CA and a poster I got signed at San Diego ComicCon (and was going to give to my younger brother) was stolen.
It’s the one of the old Gaang that reads “old friends” and it was signed by Bryke, Joaquim, Ryu, and Gurihuru. (Different from the ones that were from the first signing with the signatures from the actors.) If you see it on eBay coming out of a city in Southern California please let me know so I can get the police detective to follow up. (Especially if the seller is also selling a signed copy of How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe or a GPS.)
My brother and I are pretty bummed that the poster is gone but at least no one was hurt. If you see the poster on eBay, please message me and let me know! Thank you! -Marissa
Posters from the signing today! And look, older GAang!
THEY’RE SO AMAZING
i…i need these posters in my life
NEEEEEED THEM *grabby hands*
TLOK : PKMN sprite edit
oh shit. Didn’t see that coming.
Korra cosplayers at Expo 2012 (x)
The Asami cosplayer is perfect.
This is just the best thing. Ever.
I wish to marry the Asami cosplayer
((also thank you, I’m glad you like my art! ;v; <3))
So. Damn. Cute.
oh my god this is so perfect
OKAY SO I WAS READING THIS TINTED GREEN REVIEW WHICH WAS SUPER NICE LIKE THEY ALL ARE AND ALL CASUALLY THEY SAY “HEY YOU INSPIRED ME TO MAKE THIS AMV NBD MAYBE YOU SHOULD CHECK IT OUT.”
AND SO I DID.
AND AHHHHHHHHHHH THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. IT’S SO GOOD I WAS LIKE “AHH LIKE MY FIC AHHHHH HELP AHHH THIS IS SO GOOD.”
I MEAN I CAN’T TAKE ALL THE CREDIT. ALL THOSE AWESOME GIFS BY MAKOS-LIGHTNING ROD ARE RESPONSIBLE TOO OF COURSE BECAUSE DUH THEY ARE AMAZING AND I WROTE A LOWLY FIC.
BUT THIS HAS NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE I HAVE NEVER INSPIRED ART SO:
ALSDKFJAS;FJALFLKAJF;LSKDJFKAJFL;KASJDL;FKASJDFL;ASDJFL;SKF THIS IS SO AMAZING I CAN’T HNNNNNG
Why would you give us such honor? <3
okay this is officially my canon. everyone else go home.