Living in the Fire Nation Aug09

Living in the Fire Nation...

Imagine that you lived in a world where all nations got along. Then, your nation suddenly attacked the rest of the nations, attempting world domination. According to the opening of Avatar: The Last Airbender, that was what happened in their world. The Air, Water, Earth and Fire Nations lived in harmony, “then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” Now, a world that didn’t know strife was in need of a saviour—an Avatar, a master of all four elements. It takes a special kind of person to think that world domination is a good idea; and I don’t mean special in a good way. It’s an expensive proposition—it costs lives, money, comfort, safety, and identity. More importantly, it costs your soul. Because, if you are so full of hubris that you believe your way is the only right way, that you are so much better than everyone else, that you should rule all, that other people’s rights and dignities are negotiable according to what suits you… if you have placed yourself in the position to judge others, then you have set yourself up as God and that’s always a losing proposition. We are emperors of our own little worlds, oppressing others not by force, but by indifference. When Firelord Ozai gathered up an army and sent them to take over the world, there must have been some confusion among the people. I have often wondered how the average citizen in such a regime would feel about what was being done in their name. What did the average Roman feel during the rise of the Empire, or the Canadian and American settlers as indigenous people were being relocated or wiped out? Did they believe the Manifest Destiny (or whatever that particular group called it) rhetoric,...

The Dark Art of Bloodbending Mar03

The Dark Art of Bloodbending...

What separates an extraordinary power from a dark art? There are enough dangerous powers in the Harry Potter series to fill a class at Hogwarts and enough in Star Wars to power the Dark Side of the Force. In those stories, darkness is characterized by how a power is used. The Unforgiveable Curses are illegal and Force Lightning is frowned upon because they lead the users down a dark path. Bloodbending is another dark power. In Avatar: The Last Airbender, bloodbending is explored in detail, including how it’s mastered. Katara encounters a bloodbender in the Season 3 episode “The Puppetmaster.” Team Avatar is travelling through the Fire Nation in disguise when they meet Hama, a waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe. Hama has been living among her enemies as an innkeeper. She doesn’t tell Katara the full story of her escape from a Fire Nation prison until the two of them are alone under the light of the full moon, the time when waterbenders are the strongest. Decades ago, Hama was kidnapped from the southern water tribe with other waterbenders and locked up. Similar to Magneto’s prison of plastic, her prison was kept entirely water-free, and her hands were bound when she was given water to drink. She finally devised an escape plan that relied on the full moon’s extra strength. “I realized that where there is life, there is water,” she says. “The rats that scurried across the floor of my cage were nothing more than skins filled with liquid, and I passed years developing the skills that would lead to my escape—bloodbending. Controlling the water in another body. Enforcing your own will over theirs. Once I had mastered the rats, I was ready for the men.” She used the technique on a...