Speculative fiction writer, translator, and editor

hear me out, but what if kataang happened narratively not because “dudes don’t know how relationships work” but because of awareness that pairing the colonized with the colonizer does not make for a good ending about indigenous liberation in the face of imperialism

“but redemption—!”

the whole POINT is that a redemption arc does not absolve the colonizer or imperial nation of the atrocities committed in its name, and, in fact, “redemption” (see: reparations) is the BARE MINIMUM that should be done

“but chemistry—!”

the idea of marriage based on love is an extremely new and western one! marriage for political expediency is more about the union of states than whether two people like to make out!!

look, narratively, this is a show about THE LAST AIRBENDER, not even the waterbender. the LAST airbender is a symbol of failed genocide. NARRATIVELY, we are talking about aang’s arc, which is: survivor’s guilt over genocide, culminating in his decision to not kill but contain

aang CHOOSES not to perpetuate the vehicle of genocide that says some people are killable. instead, he takes away the very power that allows that to happen. his union with katara is a symbol that he is NOT the last airbender, nor she the last of her family

NARRATIVELY SPEAKING, it would practically be an insult to this nuanced critique of empire to make zutara canon. one mechanism by which empire perpetuates itself is the one where people think individual redemption solves institutional oppression

no matter what zuko does, no matter how humble, no matter how changed he is, what remains is that he is one ventricle of the heart of the fire nation. to put him BACK IN POWER is to perpetuate the trauma of those injured by the fire nation

like, fandom, whatever, go wild. but it does a disservice to this multilayered, nuanced narrative that REMAINS the one example I have of white guys Really Getting Asia, to reduce it to a shipping war

footnote: the narrative going with kataang is, when read from a symbolic pov, an affirmation that decolonizing involves the marginalized supporting each other, not making amends with the colonizer. we are not free until all of us are free

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