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Avatar: The Last Airbender

What the People Are Saying

On February 22nd, Avatar: The Last Airbender, the live-action version, was released. Avatar: The Last Airbender has been a very popular cartoon for a time. It is a fantasy show that takes heavy inspiration from many cultures, such as Chinese, Indigenous Americans, Mongolian, Thai, Tibetans, and more. Avatar has had one previous attempt at a live-action movie rather than a show in 2010. This movie got extreme backlash and horrible ratings. 

Most of the backlash was about cultural erasure and how most of the cast did not match the real race of the characters. The actors “Nicola Peltz” and “Jackson Rathbone,” both of their races being white, were chosen for the roles of Katara and Sokka. Katara and Sokka are both Indigenous American characters, their tribe being based on the Inuit and Eskimo tribe. When shown a photo of the movie actors and asked if they should be playing Indigenous American people, student Lela Schlangen stated, “Those are the whitest people I’ve ever seen.” This movie also faced backlash for its lack of effort and weak representation of bending. Bending is the power to use the elements as extensions of themselves. 

The new live-action show version has gotten a bit of backlash, but overall, it is doing better than the movie. Most people’s complaints about the new live-action are against the cast, but there have been few complaints about the costume. Many people complain that the actors cast for Azula and Mai, two Fire Nation characters, don’t look like the cartoon. Some complaints are, “They look too soft to play villains,” “Two chubby girls shouldn’t be playing them,” and “In the cartoon, they appear much more mature.” These complaints have been argued by most Avatar fans, with many saying that these complaints are just rooted in fatphobia. Many others come to the defense of these two young actors with the logic that Azula is a fourteen-year-old girl and Mai is a fifteen-year-old. People argue that casting two girls with a more soft look makes sense for the age of the characters. Others have said Azula’s softness gives her more of a menacing look, as in one scene, Azula watches with a soft smile as her father burns a group of people alive. 

One of the biggest controversies right now is about the actor in Sokka, Ian Ousley. Soon after the announcement of the show, various sources began accusing Ousley of faking his Cherokee heritage. On January 10th, 2022, a X user posted a ‘confirmation’ that Ousley is enrolled in the Southern Cherokee Nation of Kentucky, which is officially recognized as a fraudulent Cherokee tribe. Neither Netflix nor Ian Ousley have yet to speak up.

As for the plot of the show, there haven’t been many complaints. While it is true that there have been some large changes to when certain characters appear and how some things happen, not many people have had a problem with it. Some say there is too much change, but others argue that if you were watching the same exact plot over again, just live, it wouldn’t captivate the audience and would most likely be a fail.

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About the Contributor
Cathrine Davis
Cathrine Davis, Editor
My name is Cathrine Davis. I am 16 years old and a junior. This is my third time taking journalism. I take this class in hopes to become better at writing and learn more. While I do plan on going into engineering and not a writing career, I’ve always had a passion for writing as well.

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