Master Pakku actor implies his Avatar: The Last Airbender character is still sexist

Avatar: The Last Airbender fans raised an eyebrow when it was revealed that the Netflix remake would make Sokka less "sexist." Is the new show sanitizing the story?
Season 8 Premiere Of "The Bay" And Pre-Daytime Emmy Party
Season 8 Premiere Of "The Bay" And Pre-Daytime Emmy Party / Greg Doherty/GettyImages

Next week, Netflix will drop its live-action remake of Avatar: The Last Airbender, a beloved animated series that ran on Nickelodeon back in the mid-2000s and which remains popular today. Fans are paying close attention to this remake for fear that Netflix will mess it up like director M. Night Shyamalan did when he made a live-action Last Airbender movie in 2010. The trailers for the Netflix show look promising so far: the look is right, the show has a sense of humor, and the series has cast actors of color to play parts in a world clearly inspired by East Asian and indigenous cultures, whereas the 2010 movie cast mostly white actors (except in the roles of the villains). People seem cautiously optimistic...

But there are concerns. There was a dust-up the other week when cast and crew members talked about how the new show took the characters of Sokka, a 16-year-old boy struggling with being forced into a leadership position, and made him less "sexist." Some fans took issue with this, reasoning that, in the original show, Sokka grows out of his sexism very quickly; his sexism is part of a character arc intended to show that sexism is backwards and wrong-headed. It's not an endorsement of sexism, so for the remake to remove that part of Sokka's character seems needless at best and coddling at worst.

I'm willing to see how things shake out. Sokka's sexism really isn't that big a part of the original show; we might not even notice it's gone. Also, if fans were fearing that Netflix was sanitizing the entire series, actor Abone Martinez, aka A Martinez, is pushing back.

A Martinez
Season 8 Premiere Of "The Bay" And Pre-Daytime Emmy Party / Greg Doherty/GettyImages

How much will Netflix change Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Martinez plays Pakku, a master waterbender, which means he's famously adroit at manipulating the element of water. In this world, certain character can control, or "bend," one of the four elements: water, fire, earth and air. Only our hero Aang, the Avatar, can control all four.

Anyway, towards the end of the first season of the original show, Aang and company arrive at the Northern Water Tribe where they meet Master Pakku. Pakku is willing to train Aang in the ways of water-bending, but is unwilling to teach the young water-bender Katara on account of her being a girl. Would the new remake remove Pakku's sexism as well?

Apparently no. In a now-deleted comment on Instagram (immortalized on Reddit), A Martinez responded to a person afraid of just that scenario. “Might not be wise to expand a comment somebody made and broadcast it as an absolute,” he wrote. “I played the dude and without his bias, there is literally no character. Whole world in waiting — about to be pleasantly surprised.”

We can interpret that as Mantinez saying that without Pakku's sexism, he doesn't have a character, which is true; his sexism is the conflict of the episode which Katara must grapple with. So the remake isn't removing all the sexism from the original series, just the moments when Sokka is sexist.

Again, I'm willing to see how this all shakes out. The first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender drops on Netflix on February 22.

Next. atla. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Every confirmed change to Netflix's remake. dark

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h/t The Escapist