Monday, March 19, 2012

WORD OF THE DAY! 3/19/12.

skeptic [skep-tik]
noun
1. a person who questions the validity or authenticity of something purporting to be factual.
2.a person who maintains a doubting attitude, as toward values, plans, statements, or the character of others.
3. a person who doubts the truths of a religion, superstitions, or myths.
adjective
5. Of or pertaining to skepticism.

EX. Before we begin our analysis of today's subject, I have to admit that he is probably my favorite character, mostly because I share a lot in common with Sokka, but also because I found him to often have the most interesting stories.

Sokka is a character that is easy to overlook, easily underestimated, but easily my favorite character.

 THE WISE FOOL

When we meet Sokka, he is the comic relief. Mind you, this is in a show with a prankster air-bender, a flying bat-monkey thing, and the villains are played by Rufio and Mako. The show is already full of comic moments and the direction of the first season tended toward the silly and obnoxious. Yet, Sokka was an interesting comic character. Sure, he is fully of goofy moments that are quotable, but he is the show's skeptic and he is not a bender. He is just a normal guy (or at least that the impression that we get about him in the first season). Because he is the normal guy he is the butt of a humiliating schtick. Like his sister Katara, Sokka compensates for their parents absence (their father is off preparing for war) and he is trying to be a warrior. In fact, since he is the oldest male in the village, he is responsible for building the villages defenses, a poorly construct snow wall, and defending the village. In his first fight, Sokka is defeated in a matter of seconds and completely humiliated. His skeptical nature, at first displayed as ignorant distrust, would prove to be an important grounding in a series of spiritual hooplah, he would prove to in fact be a capable warrior, a lady's man, and more importantly...a GENIUS leader.

Now, lets talk about Sokka's growth in the first season. The two facets of his character that outshine the buffoon in this season mostly deal with his skepticism and his romantic side. His skepticism comes up immediately in the first episode. He is suspicious of Aang, but, once he realizes he is the Avatar and how important this was to his sister. His skepticism is actually one of the reasons that the character is likeable. He doesn't put up with a lot of the nonsense that they encounter because he is a smart person. He has very few examples of emotional and foolish outbursts that result in someone being put in danger. The only time he ever puts himself or others in danger is to save his loved ones or in the coming war. Great examples of his skepticism in the first season, which are mostly used as fodder for laughs, are his reactions to the outrageous actions of others and his refusal to accept the unacceptable. He is the one who realizes that Jet is dangerous and he is the one that saves the villagers from destruction. Another great example, is in the episode "The Fortuneteller", he argues against superstition and utters a line that I that helps define skepticism and a scientific view of the world in a way that reminds me of some comments made by Bill O'Reilly about the tides.
"Man in Crowd: Can your science explain why it rains?
  Sokka (annoyed): Yes! Yes, it can! "

Now, lets talk a little bit about the two big romances of Sokka's life. At first, he acts like a misogynist, but this is more a sign of his immaturity, goofiness, and fake machismo than of a genuine disrespect of women. In the fourth episode, he meets one of the most important characters in his story, Suki. Before we can fully understand his relationship with Yuki, we must first look at Sokka's lost love, Prince Yue.

Sokka has it pretty good in the romance department. His first kiss is with a Kioshi Warrior and his second is with the Princess of the Northern Water Tribe. Their tragic love story bespeaks the classic romances of old. It is an innocent thing born more of puppy love than true love, but the beauty of their relationship really brings a certain and attractive light to such love. He quickly becomes friends with Yue, but she explains that she cannot be in a relationship with him. He believes it is because he has a rival, but the truth and result is far more tragic. Yue's destiny is that she will repay the Moon Spirit for saving her life. The first season ends with her sacrifice to become the new Moon spirit, cutting their love short. Note, Sokka got to kiss the Moon. That's a pretty amazing achievement for a normal guy.

The more important relationship, ultimately, is his romance with the warrior, Suki. They meet in the fourth episode, where Sokka, at first, acts disrespectful of the Kioshi warriors. Yet, he reveals that he admires their skill and even goes so far to wear their traditional clothing and make-up to learn their ways. This earns him respect from Suki and their romance begins. The second time they meet, Suki is on a mission, and he reveals that he is not yet ready for a relationship because of what happened with Yue. She respects him and gives him time. Perhaps his most reckless act is when Sokka breaks Suki out of prison. From that moment on, the two are inseparable and their romance is definitely a new way of the warrior.

Speaking of the warrior, Sokka also tends to dip into the Warrior archetype in his quest to gain the confidence to lead his allies and in his quest to be capable of helping his friends. At first, Sokka is an easily defeated child with a club and a boomerang. Don't get me wrong, the boomerang is awesome, hell he defeats "Combustion Man" single-handed by striking his forehead, blocking his chi, and causing him to self-destruct, but the club is not the weapon for a man like Sokka. What Sokka needed since day one, was a sword, and a sensei to help him realize the connection between body and mind. If you thought it was cool when Sokka kissed the Moon, in the third season he makes an Asian long sword from space metal. As awesome as the boomerang is, a sword made of space metal, that you made with your own hands, and makes you a master swordsman is far more admirable. By the end of the series, Sokka is as talented a warrior as his friends are benders. Yet, Sokka's ultimate role and what make him is not the sharpness of his blade, but the sharpness of his mind.

Rather than just expound about Sokka's brilliant tactics that end up leading a nearly successful invasion of the Fire Nation, how he is the true leader of not only his friends but the rebellion, and how Sokka is basically a funnier Leonardo Da Vinci with a sword lets look at some of the things he helped invent, master, or partially master in a short period of time(often a few days):

The Fighting Style of the Kioshi Warriors

Poetry

The Hot Air Balloon

The Submarine
Blacksmithing
Swordsmanship

Leathercraft
Tactics
And so many other things that it makes his friends mastery of bending seem less impressive.
So, despite the fact that Sokka is the butt of jokes and, more often than not, ignored by his friends or mocked, he is not to be underestimated. His growth is one from a seemingly normal guy; a fool, a sexist, and a xenophobe, into a master tactician and warrior with great insight into love, war, craft, reason, logic, and so much more. Yet, Sokka will always be remembered as having the best sense of humor.



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