Thursday, April 5, 2007

on cartoons

Many of the people that know me know that I have a (slightly unhealthy) obsession with a cartoon called "Avatar: The Last Airbender." But when people ask why I like it so much, I have a hard time explaining. Here are my thoughts.

Part of it is that I like cartoons. They're relaxing, fun, and remind me of being a little kid. Fine, go ahead and judge, but we all have something like that.

At the same time there is something really cool going on with this particular cartoon, which I think boils down to this: it is a very conservative cartoon with a very progressive message. It is conservative (in a classical sense) because there is a single world order into which everything fits. There is a preset natural balance, a preset social structure that favors some people over others, and a savior figure to make sure that everything stays that way. If anything changes, the world is thrown into chaos.

At the same time, the plots are quite progressive. They suggest characters who overturn convention when it will benefit someone, and who think far outside a standard "good vs. evil" dichotomy. It's a little bit as if the characters from "Boondocks" walked into "Lord of the Rings." How they are going to resolve that is fascinating to me.

3 comments:

Steven said...

I don't analyze things in that way, but from a pure entertainment point of view Avatar is amazing. BTW, do you know when the new season starts?

rjamm said...

Bah- eecs guy.

Avatar offers a lot of food for thought, but I have to admit, it's also a whole lot of entertainment and I like that it's a little out of the ordinary. There may be a savior character, but he's not in the settings one would normally expect and is a lot more likeable and human than the average overconfident hero/buffoon. There are also several very strong women (I appreciate the role models for the ladies) that upset some of the standard norms as well.

Also, it's gorgeously animated! *drools at the eye candy*

zurvan said...

On website said March, but that obviously hasn't materialized.
Another thing that I have heard is that they are released during their appropriate season: "water" was released in winter, and "earth" in spring. So... summer? Nooooooo....