Today I’m going to be talking about a really old TV programme, but one that is a must watch, no matter how old you are. Yes, it’s a cartoon, and yes, it’s very PG, but I promise you that, although it’s a children’s show, it has very deep meanings that speak to us, even if we’re adults…especially because we’re adults.
The show I’m talking about, if you haven’t already guessed from the title, is…
AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER
Now…I don’t know about you guys, but the last time I saw this show on TV, the title was “Avatar: The Legend of Aang”, or was that just me? Anyway, the show aired in 2005 and ended in 2008, and in 2010 a *cough* poorly made *cough* live action film was released.
If you haven’t guessed by now, yes, I absolutely loved the show, and as I said earlier, it had some deep lessons that had to be learned, not just by the characters, or the children, but even us adults needed to remember them too. I mean, most of the pearls of wisdom in the show came from either Aang himself, or Uncle Iroh. They were the best teachers and here’s why.
For Those Not In The Know
Ok, for those of you who don’t know what I’m talking about, let me start from the beginning…
“Earth. Water. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived in harmony. Then everything changed, when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, the master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished. 100 years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an Airbender named Aang. And although his Air-bending skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he’s ready to save anyone. But I believe, Aang can save the world.”
Yes, this is a quote from the show itself. It’s actually the opening to all the episodes of the show. No, I did not watch the opening, in order to quote it, it’s actually stuck in my head, because it’s used so much, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good summary of the show.
Basically, it’s about a boy, named Aang, who was destined, from before his birth, to become a powerful Bender, meaning someone who controls all the elements. Long story short, he was trapped in an iceberg for 100 years, and a brother and sister, from the Southern Water Tribe, Katara and Sokka, find him.
In the time they find him, a Fire Nation prince, Zuko, is trying to find the Avatar, to restore his honour, since he was exiled by his father, Fire Lord Ozai. After their initial confrontation, Aang, Katara and Sokka, flee their home in the South Pole, to both escape Zuko and to help Aang find master benders, who’ll teach him how to harness the power of all four elements, to defeat the Fire Nation.
It’s a simple adventure story, and it actually covers the idea of growing up, especially for children who have to grow up quickly, because of certain situations. Not only that, it has a lot of philosophical elements to it, and you can see it in the way the characters develop. In fact, a lot of their developments actually have some psychological basis to them. Don’t worry, I’ll get to that explanation in due time, but right now, let’s look at how the adventure covers the idea of growing up.
Pearls Of Wisdom
Alright, I keep talking about these “pearls of wisdom” things, let me show you what I mean.
FAILURE IS ONLY THE OPPORTUNITY TO BEGIN AGAIN, ONLY THIS TIME, MORE WISELY.
It’s little pieces of advice like this, is what I mean. It’s not only advice like this, but the actual situation the characters are in, in some episodes that teach life lessons. For example, in one of the first episodes, Zuko confronts Aang, and their exchange literally goes like this:
ZUKO: YOU’RE JUST A CHILD. AANG: AND YOU’RE JUST A TEENAGER.
Now, ok, you might say “this doesn’t have any bearing for our society today”, but if you look closely, you’ll notice that a lot of our fictional stories, the ones that really made bestsellers (like The Hunger Games or Divergent or even Harry Potter), they put a lot of emphasis into the idea that teenagers and children are the saviours of the world. They tend to show the adults as being less than competent to fix their own problems, and this forces the children to take action, for the security of their own future.
While this might not ring exactly true for our society, if you think about it, really think about it, this is kind of the mentality of our generation. Think about the voices of the future, and who do you hear? Do the names Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and BTS ring a bell? Rarely do you hear about someone from the older generation speaking up for the future. The only one I can really think of is David Attenborough, and for me, his voice speaks the loudest, amongst the older generation, about Climate Change.
Ok, so that’s just one example, there are dozens if not a hundred examples in the show. You’ll have to watch it for yourselves, to be able to see it, and I’d need probably ten more posts to highlight them (hey, there’s an idea!).
There Is So Much More To It
Ok, I’ve just given you a taste of what Avatar: The Last Airbender (or ATLA) is like, there is so many more elements to it, and I don’t think one post is going to do it justice. So, I’ll leave it there for today, and maybe in my next post, I’ll talk about the rest…who knows, I might just end up with a series on my hands.
Well, until the next time, why don’t you guys go and watch the show. I promise you, you’ll get as addicted to it as I am, and we can actually talk about the different elements to it together! See you then!