The Pro-Genocide Narrative of Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Season 1

Table of Contents for Avatar: the Last Airbender NickToon show

Review of Season 1 

Review of Season 2

Having finally watched Season 1 on Netflix, I’m skeptical whether I should continue watching Season 2 and onward due to the horrifying implications of this “children’s cartoon” story. The unfortunate implications of Aang and Katara’s actions were just terrifying and I wondered how so few people recognized the wrongful behavior. The narrative itself essentially promotes their awful actions. I’ll begin with more light-hearted material before delving further:

Metal is a natural rock, so it’s a plot hole that Earthbenders can’t bend metal and treat it as some foreign substance that is presented as unnatural.

The Anti-Trans bigotry of Episode 9 of Season 1: shows Trans-Pirates as generic lawless villains. The first moral problem is that theft is seen as a positive since Katara gets the scroll with no consequences and the moral lesson at the end of the episode is that stealing is correct when done to thieves.

Aang commits cultural genocide in Episode 11 of Season 1: Aang lies about the details that he recounts of the Jin Wei and Wei Jin story to the two opposed nomadic groups; this is insulting the cultures that had a fierce animosity and it is promoting cultural genocide of those people’s history for the sake of a faux-peace. Essentially, the moral lesson is that calculated genocide is “good” or “appropriate” if the end result will lead to peace and stability for people uninvolved and who don’t care about the history while simultaneously finding it inconvenient.

Katara argues genocide is inevitable and should be ignored in Episode 12 of Season 1: The reasoning behind Aang being the Avatar is asinine. He picked 4 toys from among many and the reason given is “familiarity” which is stupid. However, the most egregious pro-genocide moral lesson is committed at the end of the episode. Katara argues that perhaps Aang being frozen and his people being wiped out was “Meant to be” to make him feel better about not being there to stop it and having left by sneaking out. Therefore, Katara explicitly argues the genocide of air temple nomads was “meant to be” for some calculated greater purpose. Yet again, the same moral lesson that genocide is “good” and “appropriate” if the end result will lead to peace and stability so that Aang can go save the world as edgy Captain Planet.

Episode 13 was good and Episode 14 was the best episode of Season 1 for me. However . . .

Katara’s sexual attraction to powerful men in Episode 14 of Season 1: Katara became attracted to Aang because he’d be known as a powerful bender and prior to that, she believed she’d fall in love with a powerful bender. She specifically believes this is her destiny and she is enthralled by the prospect of becoming the life partner of some nebulously defined powerful man. Her initial interest to Aang and recognition of him as a potential life partner are specifically due to realizing that Aang will grow up to become a powerful man. Ergo, Katara is attracted to power. It was not Aang’s compassion, his guile, his wit, or his funny antics that made Katara become sexually attracted or make her seriously reconsider him as a potential life partner; it was the prospect of her growing up to become the extension of a powerful man instead of defining her own self-worth.

Moving on . . .

Unexplained Deus Ex Machina of Katara learning healing properties of waterbending in Episode 16 of Season 1: Her specific stated reason is “I guess I always knew” as her explanation for suddenly knowing healing. They try to make a joke at the end of the episode with Sokka, but it doesn’t change the fact it was random Deus Ex Machina powers. Katara is still a mostly untrained waterbender at this point in the story with her only training being self-taught from a scroll that gives no indication it went into healing properties and Katara makes no mention of the scroll as the reason.

Deus Ex Machina ending in Episode 20 of Season 1: Aang suddenly goes monster-mode as super-edgy Kaiju Captain Planet and Sokka’s love interest had only a few scant interactions with him and then died. Also, Sokka cheated on Tsuki.

Overall, this cartoon show was pretty subpar at best. I’d give season 1 a 5/10 as I found nothing remarkable or memorable about it apart from the unfortunate implications of promoting genocide.

3 thoughts on “The Pro-Genocide Narrative of Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Season 1

  1. Pingback: Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Season 2: Good Character Development and a Catastrophic Failure of Worldbuilding | Jarin Jove's Blog

  2. im confused what makes the pirates trans ? also i dont think changing around a single story in the mythology of a people constitutes cultural genocide.

    • For the question regarding the pirates, the ambiguity of whether they were male or female, which was a deliberate choice. For the second, it wasn’t mythology, it was their history that Aang committed cultural genocide upon simply because outsiders like him found it inconvenient.

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