I’m probably late to the party here, but I just discovered A:TLA Annotations and I’m having a TVTropes-like timesuck experience. Buried among the anatomy of the cartoon’s cultural references, though, is something that you might be interested in even if you don’t care about cartoon numismatics or the real-world referents of Fire Nation musical instruments—a take on the wildly ill-conceived A:TLA movie that never even came close to occurring to me. The relevant posts share a highly appropriate tag, so they’re easy to find. I won’t rehearse the argument in any great depth, but here are the bones:
Take a look at the movie. The Fire Nation is portrayed as technologically advanced and civilized and not just that, Shyamalan has more than once superimposed it with India (see the casting of all the Fire Nation, not just the main cast). He most certainly did not do that because he thinks they are the villains, quite the contrary, he seems to fanboy them a lot.
I reacted to the movie’s Fire Nation the way most people I know did: Of course the villains are the only non-whitewashed nation and they’re Indian, Shyamalan must have some weird self-hate complex and/or this was the only way he could get people of color in the movie at all. The idea that the movie is a product of a Fire Nation apologist engaging in cultural appropriation… well, it still sits oddly in the head. I think I’d have to watch the movie again, carefully, to evaluate Jin’s arguments properly, and I do not care to do that. But Jin appears to have watched the movie pretty carefully to develop her (?) arguments, and Jin has an impressive eye for visual detail. So I commend the f-you-shyamalan posts to anyone with an interest in the A:TLA mythos.