When I learned that the sequel to The Last Airbender would be led by a female Avatar, I was ecstatic. Seeing Nickelodeon pick up a sequel to The Last Airbender that incorporated a female lead was refreshing, and it only increased my excitement for the series. However, recent evidence seems to suggest that Nickelodeon was completely against incorporating a female lead in the first place. Had it not been for Mike, Bryan and Studio Mir’s persistence, Korra wouldn’t have existed. A sequel to The Last Airbender would still be present, but it would’ve been led by male character instead.
This past June, I came across an interview with Studio Mir’s executive director, Jae-myung Yoo, who talked extensively about the production of Book 1. Much of the talk had to do with the animation aspect of production, but Yoo also hit on a lot of topics dealing with Nickelodeon.
One of the topics Yoo hit on was Nickelodeon’s reluctance to pursue The Legend of Korra because the lead was female. Here’s what Yoo had to say:
“Nickelodeon was reluctant to produce this animated series at first because the protagonist was a girl… Production was suspended just because the protagonist was a girl. The creators and our studio demanded Nickelodeon that they change their mind.”
In one segment of the Book 1 DVD commentary, Mike, Bryan and Janet Varney sort of unintentionally elaborated on what Yoo said in his interview:
When Nickelodeon permitted production on a spinoff to The Last Airbender, the network told Mike and Bryan that they could do whatever they wanted. Mike and Bryan eventually came back with the idea of The Legend of Korra. In the DVD commentary, Bryan explained that upon their proposal, Nickelodeon initially rejected the idea because series’ with female leads don’t perform well.
According to Yoo’s interview, Nickelodeon suspended production on The Legend of Korra because they were against the idea of having a female lead – they wanted to incorporate male lead instead. In response, Mike, Bryan and Studio Mir demanded that Nickelodeon change their mind.
After much persuasion, Nickelodeon eventually gave in to Mike, Bryan and Studio Mir’s demands, but they ran some tests to ensure that their decision was correct. They had children watch The Legend of Korra and they questioned the boys, “Are you bothered that Korra is a girl?” The boys responded with a, “What? No, she’s awesome!” Soon after, production on The Legend of Korra eventually continued with a female lead.
By the looks of it, it seems as though Nickelodeon wasn’t as supportive of the series from the start after all. Excitement probably began to grow when they saw the first episode pull in 4.5 million views.
This whole thing is a little disturbing.
The fact that Nickelodeon suspended production on The Legend of Korra because the lead was a female is pure sexism. In case the executives haven’t figured it out yet, we live in the 2000’s, not the 1800’s. Men and women are to be treated with equality – no exceptions. I have no words for Nickelodeon at this point.
Bryan Konietzko even called it “silly” in the DVD commentary which is probably code for, “You’re all a bunch of a**holes.”
I mean, really? You’re going to suspend production because the main character is a girl? How ignorant can you be? There are plenty popular films that incorporate a female lead. Just to name a few, The Hunger Games, Million Dollar Baby, Juno and Brave. I could probably go on and on arguing my case, but it’s not worth the time and effort.
I think the stupidity and ignorance of this situation is apparent. What are your thoughts?