by which I mean I WANT TO KNOW MORE
I mean the worldbuilding— the WORLDBUILDING— it’s so amazing but so far it’s only hinting at this much deeper socioeconomic current and I need to know everything right now oh my god
like, first of all, the existence of the Equalists - what are they actually protesting? At first I was watching today’s episode and being like, “this concept of the ‘bending elite’ is bullshit, because if benders are so ‘elite’ then why are Mako and Bolin dirt-poor-working-class being shamelessly exploited by the pro-bending institution, why is Mako working in a factory to make ends meet, how can anyone be elite when they are engaging in GLADIATORIAL COMBAT for a fucking living? and if the benders are so ~elite~ then WHY ARE THEY ALL IN GANGS”
but then I realized— holy shit, this is a world that has INDUSTRIALIZED bending. Mako works in a factory, in a power plant, doing assembly line work— but it’s assembly line work that only a firebender could do. How many other jobs keeping Republic City running are bender-only? How much better do those pay than jobs not specific to benders? Do they at all? Or is the Equalists’ protest simply a frustrated attempt to pin the blame for a deeper-running employment problem on a class that’s really easy to blame?
And, well, benders ARE really easy to blame— I mean, IRL people will tell you “get a college degree because no matter what job you’re looking for, if it comes down to a guy with a degree and a guy without they’ll take the guy with the degree”
Now imagine that a fourth of the population (or whatever, I wish I knew how bender genetics worked) IS BORN WITH A FUCKING COLLEGE DEGREE
and you can start to see the Equalists’ point
BUT it’s not clear yet the extent to which that’s actually a problem, as being the ~bending elite~ doesn’t seem to have helped out Our Heroes much at this point and there’s not a wide enough picture yet of the world or the differences between classes (outside of the existence of bender-specific jobs, the secluded Airbenders, and the Equalists’ general pissiness) to determine whether non-benders are actually facing real economic oppression in comparison to benders
BASICALLY I JUST WANT GRAPHS
GIVE ME A GRAPH OF THE BENDER VS. NON-BENDER LABOR MARKET
GIVE ME PILES OF STATISTICS ON THE FUNCTION OF REPUBLIC CITY’S INDUSTRIAL SECTOR
GIVE ME DATA ON PER CAPITA INCOME FOR BENDERS VS. NON-BENDERS
I WANT TO KNOW
OH GOD I WOULD KILL FOR GRAPHS
As for what the Equalists are protesting, I saw a couple of different possible things (I’m assuming it’s a combination of them)
1. The economics/ college-degree thing talked about above: Mako has two jobs that are bender exclusive. (Also a quick point: Saying “how can there be a bending elite when Our Heroes are benders and poor” is like saying “How can there be a white elite when Our Heroes are poor and white”) (Also about pro-bending: pro-bending is not forced, nor is it exclusively for the entertainment of non-benders, nor is it particularly dangerous; it reminds me way more of MMA than “gladiatorial combat”)
2. THE POLITICAL STRUCTURE OF REPUBLIC CITY WHAT IS IT TELL ME
We know basically 1 thing: Tenzin is on “the Council”. NOWHERE is it implied that the Council is elected. Tenzin only real distinguishing characteristic is his status as Airbending Master/ Avatar’s son… so it’s unlikely that he was elected.
Who else is on the Council? We have *NO* idea. But if Tenzin is on as a representative of the Air Nomads/Nation then… who else? Other bending masters? Representatives of pre-unification political units (a Firelord, Earth King, King of Omashu, etc?). And as the old nations were defined by bending…
We have to ask the question, Are there non-Benders with political power?
3. The police force: We’ve so far seen 2 beat-cops: both are displayed as over-weight and ineffectual (Korra has twice evaded them). But we’ve also seen the chief of police and those who are stationed in the airships: ALL BENDERS. The entire upper echelons of the police force are not only benders, they are benders who can swoop down from the sky and bind you up with their minds. Benders (like Korra) can fight that. Non-benders, not so much. That kind of power differential does not make for a noble and equality-serving force.
4. The forth thing is the converse of something OP mentioned: ALL THE GANGS ARE BENDING BASED. Benders can fight them. Non-benders don’t have a chance. Not only do non-benders not have much of a chance fighting the gangs exhortation and terrorism, they can’t even join. Our Heroes, Mako and Bolin, were able to pick up work with the gangs, earn a little money. Non-bender orphans whose parents were cut down by firebenders wouldn’t even have that.
So yeah. I mean, Mako and Bolin are being exploited by the pro-bending institution, yeah, but they have a place to live (because of bending), have a job (because of bending - both the factory and the pro-bending), and have the ability to join or fight the gangs (because of bending).And frankly, Korra’s behavior (which is not her fault because she was raised in an all-bending, isolated, and *extremely* privileged environment) does not particularly make me want to route against the Equalists.UGH SHOW JUST GIVE ME ALL THE INFORMATION.
a good post for everyone on my dash not quite into the whole “bender privilege” thing yet! smart questions to be asking as the show progresses
Yes, yes, all this. Considering that a) some people get born with potentially lethal magic powers, b) there’s a hell of a class inequality going on in the city, c) the police force and at least a visible fraction of the government consist of dudes with lethal magic powers, and d) the gangs consist of and are led by people who have no issue with showing off and USING those magic powers, it’s really, really, REALLY unsurprising that there’s a thick seam of fear and resentment for the Equalists to tap into. In our world, the disenfranchised working poor have been whipped up to charge off after way flimsier scapegoats than a bunch of people who can melt their faces off and apparently frequently do.
oh my god this is so beautiful get on my blog
Sums up my thoughts on this far more eloquently than I could.
The recent information for the animated game on the Nick website tells us that the Political system has 5 representatives on the council. One from the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, the Air Nomads, the Northern Water Tribe and the Southern Water Tribe. And they’re all benders, from what the animation shows (aka the fire nation representative has her finger lit with flames).
I don’t think they were elected democratically, and if they were, it wasn’t by the Republic City citizens. These are representatives from the other nations of the world that are still mostly one kind of nationality, and that is definitely not the case for Republic City.
I can see how that system might have worked when Republic City was first starting with Aang and Zuko, but it doesn’t work anymore. There are generations of people that are multi-cultural and don’t have affiliations to any particular nation (like Mako and Bolin). Some might argue that you will be represented by the bender of your blood i.e an earthbender will be represented by the Earth Kingdom. Disregarding how an earthbender might not even care about the Earth Kingdom’s views, what about the normal nonbending citizen of Republic City? There’s no one to represent them and they’re beliefs aren’t upheld in the council.
On top of the fact that there is an inordinate amount of citizens with no one to represent them, the council is also very corrupt. It is explicitly written in the game that the character Tarrlok is manipulative and goes against Tenzin’s views (which we can assume are usually just).
Frankly, I’m very worried about the political system of Republic City.
why cant i hold all of the quality commentary
I hope Bryke sees this. WE THINK ABOUT ALL OF THE THINGS GUYS.
Perfect commentary is perfect.