It’s true that her mental breakdown at the end of the series does not necessarily indicate mental illness or anything of the sort. (Not that the mentally ill should be considered “crazy” either) And even though her behavior throughout the entire series certainly makes it look as though she has something, it’s true that most avatar fans are not psychologists and therefore cannot accurately diagnose her.
Didn’t Mike and Bryan specifically state that after the series ended, she was sent to a mental hospital specifically because she was that unstable?
(I could be wrong, but that’s what I remember hearing. Please correct me if I was misinformed)
I know The Promise wasn’t written by them, but if what i heard is true, that leaked panel does have some basis of truth in it from the canon.
So why is everyone freaking out so much about it? (Mental illness as it is portrayed in pop culture is a different beast entirely. I can go on for hours about how most mentally ill characters in pop culture are the bad guys, called “crazy”, not portrayed correctly, blah blah blah.) But that isn’t the complaint I’n hearing.
I keep hearing that fans should stop assuming Azula needed to go to that hospital.
But if it’s canon, and she really needed to go, what’s the problem with that?
You’ve said what I’ve wanted to say but haven’t since the fandom blew up over this.
Azula being called crazy (and let’s face it, she tried to kill Aang, Zuko, AND Katara for crying out loud) is not in any way demeaning to people with a mental illness.She was just, as far as we could tell as viewers, a horrible human being who did bad things. Maybe she also happened to have a mental illness, but that does not mean that her behavior was entirely linked to that. People who are mentally ill are just like everyone else—some of them are good, and others are evil. Mental illness does not define a person. Actually, the fact that everyone jumps to the conclusion that “crazy = mental illness” is the most problematic thing here, which is what was bothering me the most about that discussion.
I suffer from a mental illness myself (if my followers haven’t figured it out yet, I have OCD). I am not offended by Azula’s portrayal. I’m not going to diagnose her, obviously, but is it a problem that the villain has a mental illness, if she does? Wouldn’t that just make her more human? People are complex, not one-dimensional. Mental illness does not define a person, and it does not define a character.
And yes, if she was mentally ill, isn’t it better that she was in a hospital and not a prison?
Okay, rant over.
- “Crazy” has historically been used as a slur against people with mental illnesses. It is designed to dehumanize and dismiss just like any other slur. If anybody who has been called “crazy” finds it offensive, it is. Period.
- My complaint was twofold: the show itself perpetuated many dangerous stereotypes equating mental illness with dangerous behavior (that line from Iroh being the most straightforward example). They may not have meant to, but the fandom picked up on it and there are people who replied to the original post who honestly believe that stereotype.
- Azula does not have OCD. Nor does she have anything else. Her symptoms in the show match up most closely with a psychotic break, which is not permanent, does not require a history of mental illness, and is triggered by extreme stress in most cases, such as Azula’s entire world collapsing around her. In any case, her symptoms do not line up with any known disorder, and it’s far more likely the result of what the writers thought mental illness looked like from, say, all the other movies and television shows that portray it inaccurately.
- The fact that she was thrown in a mental institution only means that she was considered mentally unwell by Fire Nation society. Mike and Bryan have stated that they pictured the Avatar world at that time as being roughly equivalent to 1850s technology. Now compare that to mental healthcare of that time period (five minutes into researching it and I guarantee you’ll throw up at how the mentally ill were treated back then).
What we put into our popular entertainment reflects the values we hold as people, and as a society. What’s more, television and movies actually do shape the way you see the world. Unless we keep calling out inaccurate portrayals like this, people will continue acting as though they are true. Just because you personally don’t find it offensive doesn’t mean that the opinions of over 1,000 people who reblogged that original post don’t matter. I found it offensive and so did they. You might want to consider why.