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Author Topic: Did nick order the increase in female characters s2 of atla?  (Read 957 times)
Darmani
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Maigano
« on: Sep 18, 2018 10:04 pm »

Sorry been so long with the threat of Netflix releasing stuff
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Nausicaa
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« Reply #1 on: Sep 18, 2018 10:28 pm »

I'd say probably not. The creators have said that they changed Toph's character from a man to a small, blind girl because one of the writers came up with it and it was more interesting. Azula was already being hinted at in Season 1 so she was already a planned character. That leaves Mai and Ty Lee. They were pretty quick to start hinting that Mai had a thing for Zuko, so they probably intended that as a future romance.

I doubt that Nick ordered it, because the people making ATLA merch were famously reluctant to make toys of the female characters. Demanding characters that wouldn't be turned into merch would be an odd move.

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Loopy
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« Reply #2 on: Sep 18, 2018 10:35 pm »

I mean, wasn't Nick even wary of having LoK centered on Korra? I figure they would have been fine keeping things to a Token Katara, and it was the creative team that wanted a more balanced cast.
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8149
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« Reply #3 on: Sep 19, 2018 03:52 am »

I think it was Bryke's idea to have Korra (a female).

Toph changed into a girl because Aaron Ehasz fought for it.
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Tamerlan Pahlavi
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« Reply #4 on: Sep 19, 2018 04:28 am »

2006 was long before the diversity debate exploded. At least I'm not aware that it was as influential as today.

It was a good decision to include Toph and Ozai's Angels, show wouldn't be as good without them.
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Darmani
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Maigano
« Reply #5 on: Sep 19, 2018 05:44 pm »

So basically it's looking like no one knows for sure
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« Reply #6 on: Sep 19, 2018 06:14 pm »

Only the Mike and the Bryan can ever truly know, but there's no evidence that Nick made such an order, and circumstantial evidence that they wouldn't have. Take that as you will.
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Tamerlan Pahlavi
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« Reply #7 on: Sep 20, 2018 05:16 pm »

I think it is possible to say that it was a happy accident that so many interesting girl characters graced the screen in the original Atla run. Bryke weren't as political back then so I'm confident the inclusion of Toph, Ty Lee, Mai and Azula were done on artistic merit and not on political consideration. I do remember many people praising Atla for including so many well done girl characters though so maybe that influenced Bryke to be more politically aware in Korra. Then again, the spirit of the times was different back then, nowadays identity politics has become unavoidable.
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« Reply #8 on: Sep 20, 2018 06:03 pm »

Eh, I think you might be underestimating the political climate of the California artist scene. Globally, we're more aware of identity politics now, but a lot of that was already being bandied about in that area in the time when AtLA was being developed. If anything, I think the Mike and the Bryan might have, through their involvement with such a big and outstanding creative team, become more aware of some of their own biases and blindspots, and afterwards worked to counter them.
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joinred1127
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« Reply #9 on: Sep 20, 2018 10:11 pm »

Eh, I think you might be underestimating the political climate of the California artist scene. Globally, we're more aware of identity politics now, but a lot of that was already being bandied about in that area in the time when AtLA was being developed. If anything, I think the Mike and the Bryan might have, through their involvement with such a big and outstanding creative team, become more aware of some of their own biases and blindspots, and afterwards worked to counter them.

I agree with Loopy. Thirteen years ago, this is what identity politics looked like. Creating more female role models and equal gender representation was de rigeur.
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8149
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« Reply #10 on: Sep 21, 2018 07:12 am »

It wasn't 13 years ago. It was more than 16 years. The first concept was developed in February 2002 and pitched with the whole 3-seasons plot.
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Tamerlan Pahlavi
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« Reply #11 on: Sep 21, 2018 10:11 am »

Eh, I think you might be underestimating the political climate of the California artist scene. Globally, we're more aware of identity politics now, but a lot of that was already being bandied about in that area in the time when AtLA was being developed. If anything, I think the Mike and the Bryan might have, through their involvement with such a big and outstanding creative team, become more aware of some of their own biases and blindspots, and afterwards worked to counter them.

They did so rather well, I think. I wonder if there are people seriously attacking the original show for not being feminist enough or something along those lines.

And it takes some time till news spread to the far eastern European hole where I live. Thanks to the internet I am at least somewhat (mis)informed about stuff going on world wide.
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Loopy
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« Reply #12 on: Sep 21, 2018 06:24 pm »

I've only ever seen AtLA being highly regarded as a feminist work, although deeper analysis will point out that there are highs and lows. Warriors of Kyoshi is considered a bit cliched and retrograde, while The Waterbender Master is thought to be a much more thoughtful and rewarding take. Some think that Azula's end is sexist, claiming that it's a typical depiction of a woman being driven mad by a power that men are depicted as being able to handle, but I've also seen takes that (rightly) attribute Azula's fall to her depiction as both an abused child and an abuser. The abuse dynamics are especially praised in the analysis I've seen, which I think helps with AtLA's overall reputation in feminist circles, because it doesn't just try to be feminist, it deals with issues that often intertwine with sexism.

But all of this is constantly evolving, so it's possible the perception can still shift.
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Tamerlan Pahlavi
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« Reply #13 on: Sep 23, 2018 03:54 pm »

But all of this is constantly evolving, so it's possible the perception can still shift.

Indeed, it can often happen that works that were at the time of their creation seen as radically liberal become seen as still quite regressive by the standards of today. Though, that's normal I suppose, society advances in steps and it cannot always jump upwards in one leap.

As for Azula, I'd like to read that analysis you mentioned. If you could link it I'd be quite thankful. Anyway her confession to Zuko in Smoke and Shadow that she felt free for the first time does sound like something an abuse victim would say.

Though, I can understand the other side somewhat. Her fall from grace superficially looks similar to the madness of Lady MacBeth from the work MacBeth which certainly was created in a time where female power was overwhelmingly seen as a negative thing.
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There is no refuge but in audacity. No salvation other than in strength.

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Loopy
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« Reply #14 on: Sep 24, 2018 06:15 pm »

This is the best one I've seen, hence why I have it bookmarked. I've seen other, similar takes elsewhere on tumblr, but tracking them down can be tough.
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Nausicaa
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« Reply #15 on: Oct 04, 2018 05:13 am »

I've only ever seen AtLA being highly regarded as a feminist work, although deeper analysis will point out that there are highs and lows. Warriors of Kyoshi is considered a bit cliched and retrograde, while The Waterbender Master is thought to be a much more thoughtful and rewarding take. Some think that Azula's end is sexist, claiming that it's a typical depiction of a woman being driven mad by a power that men are depicted as being able to handle, but I've also seen takes that (rightly) attribute Azula's fall to her depiction as both an abused child and an abuser. The abuse dynamics are especially praised in the analysis I've seen, which I think helps with AtLA's overall reputation in feminist circles, because it doesn't just try to be feminist, it deals with issues that often intertwine with sexism.

But all of this is constantly evolving, so it's possible the perception can still shift.

Yeah, I think that overall the show is well-regarded in terms of having a variety of interesting female characters, and personally I'm glad they moved away from the 'token girl' thing you often see in action stories.

I do think there's some moments that are kinda clunky, or feel oddly out of place in a series that's otherwise pretty good about its female characters. Suki kissing Sokka at the end of Warriors of Kyoshi feels a little off, partly because she links it to 'being a girl', partly because it feels like it's maybe sending mixed messages- like, Sokka gets rewarded with the possibility of romantic attention from a girl because he stopped being sexist towards her, rather than it just being the decent thing to do. There's also stuff like Ty Lee's random "You're not prettier than we are" in the middle of the battle against the Kyoshi Warriors.

Years ago I read a blog post by somebody who was watching ATLA for the first time, and was making little notes on each episode, from a feminist perspective. Overall they loved it, but there were little things that bothered them (like the gag with the two old ladies in The Beach).

Weirdly I think that, in some ways, LOK ended up being more sexist than ATLA.
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noblebender
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« Reply #16 on: Oct 04, 2018 08:20 am »

^Why do you think LOK was more sexist, out of curiosity? While reading your post, I was nodding along because Avatar was progressive but certainly not perfect. Meanwhile, I thought LOK was less problematic and more varied in its portrayals of women and never made gender an issue at all.
« Last Edit: Oct 04, 2018 08:23 am by noblebender » Logged

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Nausicaa
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« Reply #17 on: Oct 05, 2018 04:29 pm »

I guess maybe calling it sexist is a bit strong... I agree that LOK was pretty good in terms of variety- you had girls, young women, and middle aged women all with recurring or important roles. I also liked that they tried to make Korra more muscular than their past female characters (though, admittedly the animation didn't always reflect this). And there were more female world leaders than in ATLA.

I guess the reason LOK gives me that vibe is because some of the iffy gender stuff covers multiple episodes, rather than specific moments we got in ATLA. Like the whole 'crazy ex-girlfriend' thing with Eska, or Bolin kissing Ginger when she can't physically stop him (only for her to later kiss him when he becomes a famous hero). I also feel like Zhu Li and Opal ended up primarily existing for the sake of their male love interests' character development.

I think the show overall had some good stuff when it came to the female characters, but I also feel like the creators, while well-meaning, have some blindspots.
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Yougo
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« Reply #18 on: Oct 05, 2018 04:58 pm »

I think awkward and unfortunate use of characters and events is spread rather evenly across the board. One could find as many faults with how they handled the male characters as well. Also besides sexism, how they handled racism or social status. Safe to say the writers were well intended trying to adress some social themes but their lack of awareness  (but when is anyone ever finally deemed aware enough?) caused them to walk into some traps. Damned if you do, damned if you don't...
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noblebender
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« Reply #19 on: Oct 05, 2018 07:03 pm »

Nausicaa - Great points! Yes, I completely understand those moments. Similarly, it's those type of moments that bothered me in ATLA (who can forget that scene of Katara bathing in Book Three?). But overall, I appreciated much of what you pointed out, such as the varied ages of women (especially the strength of its middle-aged women, a rarity in media). I think it showed why representation matters - when the burden isn't placed on a small sampling of characters, you can have many kinds of women, even more frustrating ones (imagine if the show only had Zhu Li, Opal, Ginger and Eska, for example). Not that that makes up for bad creative decisions; it just allows for breathing room and a wide range of characters: realistic, relatable, stereotypical or otherwise. Eskas exist in real life - we just need other, less problematic characters too. And thank goodness the Turf Wars comics transform Zhu Li's role! Great point about world leaders (who we could both root for, like Su Yin, and critique, like Earth Queen - both are important in equality of representation, but the equality must be achieved first, a standard successfully set in ATLA of course). I also liked how the women were allowed to be varying degrees of feminine, fashionable, strong, worldly, accomplished, motherly, and the like, oftentimes all in one.

Yougo - Haha Fair point as well! And definitely agree about the male characters (mostly evidenced by Mako and Bolin, I'd imagine many would say).

Anywho, I know this isn't about LOK, I just wanted to dissect! To get back to the point of the thread, the uptick in female characters was likely a creative decision rather than from Nick (though I am recently learning Aaron Ehasz is responsible for some of the best of those decisions, which will make the live-action show interesting). As I pointed out with LOK, it's all about eliminating the burden of representation. I was a viewer who wasn't particularly fond of Katara's feminism (when the lone female character, as in much of Book One, it skews emotional, typical and tokenistic), but one can't argue too much when we were given such different personalities and goals in characters like Toph, Azula and more. All those types of characters can, should and are allowed to exist; it just allows different people to relate when given options.
« Last Edit: Oct 05, 2018 09:17 pm by noblebender » Logged

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Loopy
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« Reply #20 on: Oct 07, 2018 03:59 pm »

The only reason I can't forget the Katara Bathing Scene is because the Fandom Outcry is the only reason I even considered that she might not be wearing her usual Book Fire swimwear.
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Red Hawk
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« Reply #21 on: Oct 07, 2018 07:34 pm »

How on earth is Katara potentially bathing naked, with all we see being her bare shoulders, sexist? I mean yeah, it stood out to me way back when "The Runaway" aired (or was leaked, rather) that the way the shots were framed left the possibility that she wasn't wearing clothes.  But that's...sort of what people do when they bathe?  This is a problem?  It didn't feel like it was exploitative or titillating.  If anything, it fit with the sense of vulnerability to Sokka and Toph's conversation that Katara overheard.  How is it any more sexist than, say, Sokka being down to his skivvies back in "Cave of Two Lovers", and the Fantasy Hippies drawing attention to that? Or the blatant fanservice with Zuko and Ty Lee in "The Beach"?

I do agree with a couple other points though.  Sokka getting rewarded with a kiss at the end of "Warriors of Kyoshi" was unnatural and unnecessary.  And Ty Lee's "You are not prettier than we are" is just a straight clunker of combat banter.

On topic: No...as I told you on the other board where you brought this up, Darmani, there is no reason to think that the network made any requests to increase the amount of female characters on the show.
« Last Edit: Oct 07, 2018 07:42 pm by Red Hawk » Logged
Loopy
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« Reply #22 on: Oct 08, 2018 05:57 pm »

I waver on whether I consider the fanservice in The Beach to be parody or parody-that-is-also-the-thing-it-parodies.

But yeah, there was nothing in Katara's "bathing" scene that could possibly qualify as fan-service. Less was shown of her than any of her Waterbending Training scenes, and the camera wasn't even trying to ogle her. That said, the writer of The Runaway is Joshua Hamilton, and there's this exchange in the DVD commentary for The Serpent's Pass:

JOSHUA HAMILTON: This is the third episode I got to write, and it’s the second time we start in water, with Katara’s hair down.

MICHAEL DANTE DIMARTINO: Yeah, what’s up with that, Josh.

JOSHUA HAMILTON: I don’t know, you know, it just seems to work.

(Source: https://attackfish.dreamwidth.org/195733.html)

So I suppose it's possible that something was scripted that was a bit more fan-servicey, and the final version was more appropriate.
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Red Hawk
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« Reply #23 on: Oct 11, 2018 08:12 am »

To be fair,  Katara with her hair down in the water does just work.  Tongue
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