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Author Topic: (controversial) Is Korra being exploited for feminine suffering as to Tenzin  (Read 8209 times)
Fire Rose
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« Reply #25 on: Oct 06, 2014 08:10 pm »

This is a really weird topic.

Lightningbend pretty much summed it up. Anyone, anyone can end up like Korra under the right circumstances regardless of gender and age. If you were to put Aang in that situation he would end up like Korra did.

It is not sexism. Where did this argument come from?
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fraroc
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« Reply #26 on: Oct 06, 2014 09:40 pm »

Are people forgetting the fact that Korra was poisoned and literally died for several seconds in addition to the fact that in the past year she lost her bending, lost her connection to the past Avatars + had Raava, the Spirit of Light literally ripped out of her and destroyed, wasn't able to protect the Earth Queen from being assassinated and was convinced to basically give up her life because she was useless? Are people also forgetting the fact that in a few short moments Korra was facing ALL of her biggest fears and inner demons while she was being chained scores of feet above the ground like she was being crucified or something PLUS the false knowledge that she believed her father was dead and that she had WATCHED HER FATHER FALL TO HIS DEATH? Let's not forget the fact that all Korra wanted to be was the Avatar, yet here she is now getting nothing but messages that the world doesn't need or want the Avatar anymore like they did 100 years ago, so she literally lost her mind at the thought that she was useless and nobody wanted her around.

Tenzin just had the s**t beat out of him. Tenzin even said "As long as I'm breathing, it is never over." Tenzin was more than prepared to fight to the death if it meant protecting his family and the other airbenders and perhaps distracting the Red Lotus long enough that everyone else could do what was needed to stop them. Plus, Tenzin had his secret, life-long identity crisis resolved in season 2 when he saw the spirit of his father and finally realized that he is TENZIN, not AANG 2.0.

Finally, are people forgetting the fact that during the events of ATLA, the Avatar was was a 12-year-old boy whose entire people were wiped out leaving him to be the only airbender to survive and be in present existence? Have people forgotten the breakdowns Aang had when he felt as if he had failed the world AGAIN during the Seige of the North after he had promised to redeem himself after he wasn't there 100 years ago to protect and save his own people? What about the time when he ran away again in a fit of rage and self-pity because he was told that the whole world thought that he was dead AGAIN and had once AGAIN let them all down? How about when he cried OVER HIS LOST BISON. I emphasize that because some people would find it ridiculous that one would cry over a PET/ANIMAL. Were people talking about sexism then? Were they talking about how weak of a character he seemed to be for a male? How much of a wimpy sissy he was? No, he was just a 12-year-old little boy, his feelings were warranted! They were expected! He handled it very well for somebody his age and in his position! /s

Yet when KORRA goes through her own identity crisis and breaks down, it's all of a sudden sexism.

People are talking about SEXISM? Seriously?

I agree, I mean...why else would the first we see of Korra in Season 4 is her flat out DENYING she's the Avatar? BTW, I don't think she died in the Avatar State in the book 3 finale. She just fell unconscious. The same why I don't think that Aang really full-on "died" when Azula shot him with the lightning. He had gone into cardiac arrest, meaning his heart probably stopped for a minute or two, but he wasn't brain dead.

The reason why Aang cried and went into a huge rage over Appa being kidnapped was the fact that Appa was one of the final remaining living relics of the Air Nomads. Yeah it was heartbreaking that his pet was gone but it was much deeper than that.

People have this notion that Korra is like Toph. A ruthless badass like Wolverine who doesn't take crap from everybody...She's allowed to have her moments too! Toph had her "moments", like being sad over her parents not accepting her for who she was and how they expected her to be a helpless crybaby while she was the polar opposite.
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Loopy
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« Reply #27 on: Oct 07, 2014 04:19 pm »

People are talking about SEXISM? Seriously?

Well, hey, I notice they didn't poison any guys, did they?

Granted, there are no important male protagonists in Book Change's narrative, but maybe that's a kind of sexism, too. Cheesy
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« Reply #28 on: Oct 07, 2014 04:52 pm »

ah sorry I conveyed it like that
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« Reply #29 on: Oct 08, 2014 03:29 am »

Oooh interesting topic. I like feminist critiques generally and I want to share my input.

It actually depends on how Korra's suffering is analyzed a critique can examine her in different angles:
1. Being an action hero
2. Being an Avatar main character - most people use this
3. Being a female lead
4. Being a woman of color
5. Combination of these angles

This is the cause of some dissonance among the fandom. One critic might just limit her scrutiny within the series itself while some will put her into the context of WoC characters in media. There's always different sides. On one angle people will find her to be another disproportionately abused female character in media and some perceive her to be a woman of color being "humbled" by beatings and find it problematic. The other side is that Korra, a dark-skinned woman shown being vulnerable, crying and have existential issues also humanizes her and this combats the harmful portrayal of dark-skinned women being too tough and loud and too strong to need anyone.

Korra dealing with trauma is also something feminist in itself. This excellent essay (with Full Metal Alchemist spoilers) relays the unfortunate trope of women's trauma being used for male angst and character development  while women stay silent in their suffering.

Korra's gonna be scrutinized differently and we cannot really say if it's being "too much." Some will simply see her as a cartoon character, some will put her in the same pedestal as Katniss and Wonder Woman and praise/criticize her portrayal and some will just see her as Korra in Legend of Korra.

What I dislike is requiring Korra to pass a higher standards compared to other Avatar characters (especially compared to Aang) so that they can justify their dislike of her. Other LoK women are treated by the fandom like that. I understand how the fandom want more for women but it's not just fair to expect each one of them to be "awesome" (even when they're meant to be minor characters) and automatically associate mediocre writing with sexism.

« Last Edit: Oct 08, 2014 03:31 am by danseru-kun » Logged

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« Reply #30 on: Oct 08, 2014 09:27 am »


*Looks at thread title*



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Uzuko
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« Reply #31 on: Oct 08, 2014 11:07 am »


*Looks at thread title*
http://i.imgur.com/wqMWK7z.gif

What harm is there in bringing up the topic for discussion? Darmani has brought up an interesting subject, and Lightningbend, GoodFella, and danseru-kun bring up some interesting counter points.

Korra's gonna be scrutinized differently and we cannot really say if it's being "too much." Some will simply see her as a cartoon character, some will put her in the same pedestal as Katniss and Wonder Woman and praise/criticize her portrayal and some will just see her as Korra in Legend of Korra.

When you say "people put these characters on a pedestal" are you referring to any portray of weakness or physical or mental anguish as something that shouldn't be associated with the character?
« Last Edit: Oct 08, 2014 12:56 pm by Uzuko » Logged
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« Reply #32 on: Oct 08, 2014 12:22 pm »

I think it is also important to note that the poison literally tortured Korra into the Avatar state. Just look at the pain and anguish she's in from the moment to poison enters her body. She is fighting it as hard as she can, but is clearly being immensely hurt. There is only so much that humans can withstand, and although her effort not to go into the avatar state is valiant, it eventually becomes too much for her to handle and she cracks. This is exactly how torture works in the real world, and is why (unfortunately) people torture others. Everyone has a limit to the pain that they can endure, and it is literally impossible to resist being tortured forever. Korra feels (rather intensely and painfully) what the poison is telling her to do, and when her resistance eventually breaks down is when she hits the avatar state.

While I think that all of her possible feelings of being "useless" or thinking that the world doesn't need the avatar anymore are certainly reasons that she might feel lost or not like herself anymore, the PTSD related to the physical trauma of being tortured seems to be the main reason that it has taken her so long to recuperate, as well as why (as of episode 1 of season 4 of course) she is still not fully "fixed" and doesn't feel like herself.

I've never been tortured, and thankfully I don't know anyone personally who has, but I know that stuff stays with you for the rest of your life. And while I'm not saying that Korra is the new Nicholas Brody, I think that it is very important to understand that Korra's terrible experience in the cave will probably haunt her for the rest of her life even if it does seem as though she has moved on. And I'm not saying that sexism in the media is unimportant, it is, and is one of the biggest problems women (or depictions of women) in media face, but I don't think that Korra's situation specifically at the end of season 3 and beginning of season 4 is related to it. Tenzin was beaten within an inch of his life, yes. But he was clearly beaten until he passed out. Korra experienced violent pain and terrifying hallucinations possibly for a period of several hours while feeling her control over herself and her powers be painfully eroded down to nothing until she finally broke. Of course that's going to mess her up.
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Ikkin
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« Reply #33 on: Oct 08, 2014 02:17 pm »

Korra dealing with trauma is also something feminist in itself. This excellent essay (with Full Metal Alchemist spoilers) relays the unfortunate trope of women's trauma being used for male angst and character development  while women stay silent in their suffering.

That article is really interesting, and it made me consider the way that trauma is used in media at large.

It seems to me that there are a number of ways in which characters can suffer -- as a combatant or as a victim, as a subject or as an object, physically or emotionally.  Those different types seem to align very closely with characters' genders, with male characters tending to suffer physically as a combatant (with little emotional fallout) or emotionally as a subjective observer (mostly in response to violence done to others -- see: the concept of Manpain) and female characters tending to suffer physically as victim-objects (with little emotional follow-through).

Traditionally, neither male or female characters' emotional trauma is a point of narrative focus if it's based on something that happened to them.  Those sorts of stories make up a greater proportion of stories told about female characters, I think, but there's probably a correlation between people who write female characters and people who reject the masculine-heroic standard that requires heroes to "man up" about their own trauma and only allows them to suffer over the trauma of others.

Korra's story kind of mixes it all together into one gigantic mess -- she suffers in ways that makes her both combatant and victim, she's the object of her own pain while also being the source of the subjective experience that's given narrative focus, and both the physical and emotional elements of her suffering are important.  That's why it's so raw, I think.  Media tends to put suffering at a remove from the audience, either showing that the character who suffers can deal with it or putting the audience into the head of someone who experiences the suffering vicariously, but LoK consistently chooses to deal with brokenness directly.


I think it is also important to note that the poison literally tortured Korra into the Avatar state. Just look at the pain and anguish she's in from the moment to poison enters her body. She is fighting it as hard as she can, but is clearly being immensely hurt. There is only so much that humans can withstand, and although her effort not to go into the avatar state is valiant, it eventually becomes too much for her to handle and she cracks. This is exactly how torture works in the real world, and is why (unfortunately) people torture others. Everyone has a limit to the pain that they can endure, and it is literally impossible to resist being tortured forever. Korra feels (rather intensely and painfully) what the poison is telling her to do, and when her resistance eventually breaks down is when she hits the avatar state.

Honestly, I'm not convinced Korra's resistance did break down.  She seemed fully committed to withstanding the torture unto death (which some people actually do in real life); the Avatar State itself betrayed her by activating against her will.  =(  That probably just makes it worse for her, though.
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« Reply #34 on: Oct 08, 2014 11:56 pm »


When you say "people put these characters on a pedestal" are you referring to any portray of weakness or physical or mental anguish as something that shouldn't be associated with the character?


Do you mean them being required to be "strong female characters who were never weak?"  Well a female character with no weakness will lack dimensions but that wasn't what I meant in my post. What I meant is that some people expect her to be extraordinary and sees her as a feminist icon in cartoons, whatever problematic portrayal will be scrutinized more harshly than most protagonists.

That is why there's a difference in criticism between a white male lead and a woman of color lead. White male leads are plentiful, they make up 70% of film protagonists and have been the most iconic characters. When a white male lead is boring, stereotypical or terrible, a lot of other guys will make up for that. Korra not only a female lead but a dark-skinned female lead in action animation, a rarity an therefore, even minor problems are more easily noticed since there's a tiny pool of known dark-skinned female leads in American media. As an analogy it's like choosing among 70 pink houses and even if 10 are bad and 10 have major problems you still have 40, but when it comes to the blue houses there's only 5 of them and each of them seems to have problems there's no other options.

I think one good comparison is Mako Mori from Pacific Rim. A lot of feminists hated her being quiet, very polite and soft-spoken opposed to her partner Raleigh and considered it not got for feminism. However, she distinguishes herself as an incredibly rare East-Asian woman lead who is neither a martial artist, a villains or a love interest and keeps her traditional Japanese values (politeness and respect.)

So in short, gender and race matters a lot and it's complicated.
« Last Edit: Oct 09, 2014 12:03 am by danseru-kun » Logged

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« Reply #35 on: Oct 09, 2014 01:37 am »

I think one good comparison is Mako Mori from Pacific Rim. A lot of feminists hated her being quiet, very polite and soft-spoken opposed to her partner Raleigh and considered it not got for feminism. However, she distinguishes herself as an incredibly rare East-Asian woman lead who is neither a martial artist, a villains or a love interest and keeps her traditional Japanese values (politeness and respect.)

...I'm confused.  How is she not a martial artist?  o_0  Even leaving aside the fact that piloting a Jaeger requires the pilots to perform the same movements as the Jaeger when they're fighting, she seemed really skilled with a jo in that one fight she had with Raleigh.  =P

(With that said, I don't think it's really fair to expect a single character to be everything for everyone just because they're representing a group that doesn't get as much representation.  Of course Mako Mori is a martial artist; she's a co-lead in a movie about punching Kaiju in the face =P )
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« Reply #36 on: Oct 09, 2014 03:14 am »

...I'm confused.  How is she not a martial artist?  o_0  Even leaving aside the fact that piloting a Jaeger requires the pilots to perform the same movements as the Jaeger when they're fighting, she seemed really skilled with a jo in that one fight she had with Raleigh.  =P

(With that said, I don't think it's really fair to expect a single character to be everything for everyone just because they're representing a group that doesn't get as much representation.  Of course Mako Mori is a martial artist; she's a co-lead in a movie about punching Kaiju in the face =P )

Ah that was a mistake in terminology, what I meant is that she's not your Kung Fu lady. She fights but she's not there to display some exotic moves and wear a dragon-themed costume (sadly Kikuchi got a terrible role with the Keanu Ronin movie.)  She is a martial artist as much as every one who pilots a Jaeger at that movie.

But yes we have the same sentiment with Korra. There are some who says she does not feel like a WoC protagonist because she's privileged and they equated her 4 elements to extra privilege (which I don't agree with, not all WoC need a narrative of triumph against oppression.) She expected to represent a lot of social struggles and it kinda upsets me that when she didn't fit a certain vision of what a WoC protagonist should be she's can't have credit for other good things. Korra could be as "standard" as Superman in personality and she's still incredibly rare and multi-dimensional.  As a brown woman myself she's something that I have only dreamed of when I was a child, actually more than I ever wished for.

I'm not saying people can't want more from her nor was I invalidating criticism on how she was handled, but it's just unfair to expect her to cover a lot of WoC issues since WoC are also diverse and not a single group in itself.
« Last Edit: Oct 09, 2014 03:52 am by danseru-kun » Logged

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« Reply #37 on: Oct 09, 2014 12:30 pm »

...I'm confused.  How is she not a martial artist?  o_0  Even leaving aside the fact that piloting a Jaeger requires the pilots to perform the same movements as the Jaeger when they're fighting, she seemed really skilled with a jo in that one fight she had with Raleigh.  =P

(With that said, I don't think it's really fair to expect a single character to be everything for everyone just because they're representing a group that doesn't get as much representation.  Of course Mako Mori is a martial artist; she's a co-lead in a movie about punching Kaiju in the face =P )

Ah that was a mistake in terminology, what I meant is that she's not your Kung Fu lady. She fights but she's not there to display some exotic moves and wear a dragon-themed costume (sadly Kikuchi got a terrible role with the Keanu Ronin movie.)  She is a martial artist as much as every one who pilots a Jaeger at that movie.

Ah, okay, I see what you mean now.  The problem isn't being a martial artist so much as being a martial arts stereotype (which is probably why no one cares that most important Avatarverse characters are martial artists XD; )


Quote
But yes we have the same sentiment with Korra. There are some who says she does not feel like a WoC protagonist because she's privileged and they equated her 4 elements to extra privilege (which I don't agree with, not all WoC need a narrative of triumph against oppression.) She expected to represent a lot of social struggles and it kinda upsets me that when she didn't fit a certain vision of what a WoC protagonist should be she's can't have credit for other good things. Korra could be as "standard" as Superman in personality and she's still incredibly rare and multi-dimensional.  As a brown woman myself she's something that I have only dreamed of when I was a child, actually more than I ever wished for.

I'm not saying people can't want more from her nor was I invalidating criticism on how she was handled, but it's just unfair to expect her to cover a lot of WoC issues since WoC are also diverse and not a single group in itself.

I'm with you on this one.  There are so many different visions of what a WoC character "should" be that someone is bound to be unhappy no matter what happens.  The only fair way to judge her is on the terms of whether she's successful at being what she's trying to be and whether what she's trying to be is worthwhile.  Judging her for not being something else is kind of pointless.
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« Reply #38 on: Oct 10, 2014 10:53 pm »

It is important to remember that Tenzin is not the main protagonist. He has a supportive role d as such Korra has to get more of the screentime. Also, the circumstances for both are vastly different. Tenzin was beaten, but not enough for him to spend years in treatment. As far as we are concerned he didn't break any bones or had any major physical trauma. As such his recovery certainly took less time. Korra on the other hand was both psycologically and physically traumatized. The poison left internal wounds, most likely even left damage in the internal organs. The fact that she's still alive is pretty impressive in and on itself. The writers took a much more real world approach with the storytelling in this season and that led to korra endure greater stress and pain then before. Really, I felt that the show doesn't try to glamorize pain but instead show is the different facets of life that humans endure. In Avatar they did that with Zuko, and know they do it with Korra. And to me that makes smart storytelling.

Really, the Avatar franchise is one of the best western series in its portrayal of both genders.
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« Reply #39 on: Oct 11, 2014 07:32 am »

Honestly should have waited until the second episode.  Tenzin is ineffective but not harmful, or not intentionally so and the damage is very much.. Korra's and the situations born from her experiences and frustrations.

The main thing is that it felt Korra was hurt and Tenzin was continuing to hurt her by pushing buttons he was blind to in ways he shouldn't be with shared experience and understanding.

Here it seems just an overly long recovery with unique and personal scars and the time needed.

I again wasn't as "this is the reason" so much "uhoh I see this thing that happens and think its happening again here in ways that bother me"

Even Korra's... damage is hers.  Its hard to explain but as to (grrrrrr) Shinji Ikari who is the victim of the universe and Gendo's plotting and Yui's plan and etc,  Korra is actively against and fighting her aid her people and support network aren't out ro exploit and hurt her.  Not to say that doesn't happen but I consider the former a little too indulgent from the perspective of the traumatized and depressed while the latter truer without diminishing either's perspective.
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« Reply #40 on: Oct 11, 2014 06:25 pm »

I'm honestly confused by your last point. Are you saying that Korra SHOULD have been trying to accept help but be victim of the universe to the point where it's not enough? Or are you saying that the fact that Korra's been resistant to aid is unrealistic by supposedly being "indulgent"?

Anyway, I don't see Korra's situation "unrealistic" or "indulgent" at all, or even "diminishing" what her support network as to say. If anything, we SEE Korra with tons of support and she goes along with it for the most part. She goes to Katara because her mom asked her to because her and Tonraq were sincerely worried about her. She snaps at Katara but she promptly apologizes and tries again, in a rehab program that lasts her SEVERAL months/possibly over a year(s). Tenzin hits buttons with her but she also seems to get what direction he's coming from, which makes her frustrations turn inwards more.

When Korra says, "Everyone keeps telling me they can help but it hasn't worked yet", she's not completely wrong. In real life, even if someone has all the support and love, it's not uncommon to hit a brick wall in recovery. Because there's only so far you can go with others - recovery also comes largely from the self, but that doesn't come easy in the cases of extreme trauma. Even if Toph plays Yoda, I imagine what she'd chiefly do is help push Korra in the right direction than anything else.
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« Reply #41 on: Oct 11, 2014 06:51 pm »

I hope its appropriate to make this topic and not have to fit it under another.  At least on the front page nothing seemed appropriate.


Ahem.  In the season 3 finaleboth Tenzin and Korra have gone on a powerful and painful trial.  Tenzin was beaten within an inch of his life and left without care (and it seems basic necessities) by the RL Gnaag.  He had to nearly lose his whole family again (that year, recall 1-3 all happens in like 8 months tops) and Zaheer was a total antichrist to his beliefs.

Even his "not that special anymore" buttons were pushed with the arrival of the new airnomads and even Bumi gaining his powers and more loved by the recruits and earlier that year, in addition to seeing the people he governed and served cheer for his family's capture and mutilation lost his seat of authority.

Three weeks later he's on his feet and caring more about Korra.  Korra is in a wheelchair with painful smile and a single tear.

I think this is a sign of the old women are emotional and more frail as to men.  (see how losing in battle is portrayed only the darkest character pieices assume battle is traumatic for dudes, but any woman exposed will be in pieces or something is 'off about her)

I am not majorly incensed.  Just observed and thinking about this.  PArticularly as, at least in spacebattles, people have latched onto the idea of Tenzin being her well meaning tormentor, with his compliments driving her deeper into despair and frustration and so on.

They practically went through the same thing or worse.  But Tenzin is aokay but Korra is in a tizzy?
This particularly strikes me as while I appreciate parts of Tenzin there is always something off, in my opinion of how they deal with him.

I think its pretty obvious at this point that Korra was hurt far more than Tenzin, she lost the use of her legs, and at the moment was going through something far more traumatic. There really isn't a point to this observation considering what we all know about the show and about what is going on at the time.

Besides, its too often we want to get rid of differences so bad we illogically forget there are differences, so what if women are on average physically weaker than men? Its natural, nothing to be ashamed of or something that needs to be changed, but that isn't to say it shouldn't be if a woman wants to change it. Heck, the protagonist of this show stands out from the crowd for how muscular she is.

At any rate, no matter what you do and how you portray something, there will always be someone to point out or observe something "wrong" with it. Especially in our day in age, where they have such a long list of things like sexism, racism, religion, and any type of bigotry no matter what it could possibly be and somehow be twisted into bigotry. 

It really doesn't even make sense anymore, at least to me, and becomes utterly unsubstantial when its at the length that this is.
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« Reply #42 on: Oct 11, 2014 06:55 pm »

Korra had accepted the help and advice of others over the course of two years, and intended to go to Republic City as well. Only in the final months did she decided she needed to figure this out on her own, like she said at the tree of time, because people had been helping her for years and nothing had worked so far.
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« Reply #43 on: Oct 12, 2014 05:05 pm »

I'm honestly confused by your last point. Are you saying that Korra SHOULD have been trying to accept help but be victim of the universe to the point where it's not enough? Or are you saying that the fact that Korra's been resistant to aid is unrealistic by supposedly being "indulgent"?

Anyway, I don't see Korra's situation "unrealistic" or "indulgent" at all, or even "diminishing" what her support network as to say. If anything, we SEE Korra with tons of support and she goes along with it for the most part. She goes to Katara because her mom asked her to because her and Tonraq were sincerely worried about her. She snaps at Katara but she promptly apologizes and tries again, in a rehab program that lasts her SEVERAL months/possibly over a year(s). Tenzin hits buttons with her but she also seems to get what direction he's coming from, which makes her frustrations turn inwards more.

When Korra says, "Everyone keeps telling me they can help but it hasn't worked yet", she's not completely wrong. In real life, even if someone has all the support and love, it's not uncommon to hit a brick wall in recovery. Because there's only so far you can go with others - recovery also comes largely from the self, but that doesn't come easy in the cases of extreme trauma. Even if Toph plays Yoda, I imagine what she'd chiefly do is help push Korra in the right direction than anything else.
I was comparing Korra's portrayal (even her actions) FAVORABLY to Shinji who annoys the bjzs out of me for being how the depressed see themselves and the world (worthless picked on victims) versus how they, in my personal experience dealing and being one, are (hurt, unhealing, hurtful, difficult, and often poormeaning and underproductive or unappreciative)

And yes Korra has accepted help, but with avoidance, frustration, and argument, even overlooking her own progress at times.  Often in these cases its a matter of pure victims versus the wrong...

Like I said it is very hard for me to put into words.  But yeah its not what was done to Korra.  But Korra having to deal with this situation.  And its so hard for me to spell out but it is all the difference.
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Darmani promises not to use "CANON" if Zutarians don't use "DESTINY"
I want a Book Air, Avatar Pen and Paper RPG, and *good* near free-form action video game. I also want a pony.
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