*Header image by me!
It is hard to pinpoint one’s creative ingenuity and desire to produce on a single artist or movement…For me at least, it’s always been the freedom of expression that drew me into the creative industry.
It’s the limitless nature of media that is so intriguing to me, the things we can do – challenging the ways we perceive social norms; values, social critique, exploring the boundaries of morality, exposing fraudulent and heavy power imbalances, disassembling the hierarchy of human nature and construction of emotion, challenging the amount of empathy we should or shouldn’t provide – all within the comfort and freedom of a fictional universe. It’s not an everyday person that unmasks the false reality around us – we can’t all be Julian Assange and disclose thousands of government secrets – but it’s everyday people that explore, challenge and debunk these concepts through media.
Take, Avatar, for example. Not the blue people, I’m talking Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of the most compelling and rich animated series of the last few decades. It unearths the tales of immigrants, torn from their own country and heritage through war with the complexity and individualism amongst each character rarely seen in this form of media. Immigration within our own political sphere is a touchy subject. Refugees are too often written off as “invaders” and degraded by government policies, mainstream media and even prominent social figures (I’m looking at you, Mr. Trump).
We’re too often exposed to ethnocentrism (basically evaluating other cultures based on the own pre-conceptions and standards of our own) and avoid exploring the perspectives of those within other cultures. Zuko, a former fire-nation prince, has to challenge these preconceptions in order to pursue what is morally right. The realisation that his almighty nation might be undergoing the wrong path, despite being fed the opposite his entire life, is fundamental to his character arc.
What Avatar does is presents stories of diverse people with different cultural backgrounds, allows us to empathise with them, showcases them as realistic – and often relatable – people, all within a media piece that isn’t necessarily an attack on post-modern society. It’s presented at base form as a story of a boy desperately trying to restore balance to the natural world. And I’m not even getting into the kick-ass animation yet.
Now, guaranteed, a Bachelor of Animation isn’t going to get me a one-way ticket into a director’s chair to write the next big morally-challenging media jam-packed with social commentary and progressive ideology…but it’s a start. It’s something I know I will enjoy, and will no doubt take my artistic journey to the next level. The pay is just going to be another bonus.
- Image retrieved from https://quantummultiverse.wordpress.com/dvd-avatar-the-last-airbender-season-3-release-date-premiere-2015jpeg-318aa4_1280w/
- Image retrieved from http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/avatar-the-last-airbender/articles/99446/title/zuko