The Instigator
InnovativeEphemera
Pro (for)
Winning
12 Points
The Contender
Ozzyhead
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Avatar: The Last Airbender is the best cartoon in history

Do you like this debate?NoYes+3
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
InnovativeEphemera
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/2/2014 Category: TV
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 994 times Debate No: 62529
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)

 

InnovativeEphemera

Pro

Avatar: The Last Airbender (ATLA) is the best cartoon in history.

Best: Of the highest quality; superlative.

Format: Semi-structured, relatively informal, but keep it neat. First round is for acceptance.

Note that this is explicitly not a debate pertaining to the live action motion picture. Instead it is about the animated franchise.

Just for the sake of a fun exchange, I would prefer an opponent who has a specific alternative in mind. Of course, this is merely a preference and you may feel free to simply rebut my contentions.
Ozzyhead

Con

I accept, and I do have a specific cartoon: I believe South Park is the best cartoon.
Debate Round No. 1
InnovativeEphemera

Pro

Thanks Ozzyhead!

Avatar: The Last Airbender is the best cartoon in history.
In this round, I will discuss three factors resulting in ATLA's status as the best animated show of all time.

- It represents a groundbreaking shift in children's television away from light mind-numbing entertainment (i.e. drivel).
- Its motifs, metaphors, allegories and esotericism are unparalleled.
- Its ratings and commercial success*
* note that I have left this 'til last because while the show has been very commercially successful I wished to entertain more intellectually stimulating criteria.

I'm not going to muck around with semantics, let's just jump straight in!


Watershed television for children

In an article posted by Forbes last year, Merril Barr discussed the cultural significance and impacts of three television shows (24, ATLA and Breaking Bad)(1). About ATLA, he touches on what I consider to be the most important direct influence of the programme; while there have been cartoons dealing with adult content for years (he cites South Park, The Simpsons, etc), children's cartoons were relegated to patronising and stereotypically banal moral professions. ATLA famously, almost controversially, made the decision to deal with heavier themes instead of looking down to their audience. A generation of children (to be discussed below) will be raised more emotionally, culturally and humanly aware. It challenges pre-teens with concepts deal with in first-year university philosophy classes, and my contention is not only that children can handle it, but it's actually good for them, especially due to the sensitive angle of the creators.

I contend that on some level, almost every conceivable moral lesson is taught in ATLA. Power, corruption, duty, redemption, birth, death, relationships, love, sex, rape, drugs, dreams and aspirations, inner-strength, courage and purpose are merely the touchstones of the series, which delve far deeper than the superficial impression given by those who haven't followed the series closely. ATLA even transcends strong metaphor to become a truly esoteric beacon. No other children's program has ever woven such motifs as multiculturalism, war, bigotry, racism, sexism and violence into a beautiful tapestry presented through a single, engaging, relateable narrative that not only captures the heart and mind, but also the soul (and I don't even believe in souls). The massive cult following and engagement with the pre-teen demographic was only the start of the series' success. Nobody could have anticipated that the parents of the children would engage as much as they did. No one could have expected the cultural impact of the show, and how profoundly it reached an audience of children, teenagers and adults alike.


Motifs, Metaphors, Allegory and Esoteticism

A wide array of hypotheses have been postulated as to the hidden deeper meanings of the show. I will breifly name a few here.

Second Sino-Japanese War
ATLA can be taken as an allegory for the sino-Japanese war, with Japan being the imperial Fire Nation. "The Fire Nation successfully invaded large swathes of Earth Kingdom territory but victory always eluded them. Similarly, the Japanese captured most of Northern China, along with the Chinese capital of Nanjing, but still failed to win the war." (2) Similarities in propaganda usage is evident here.

Religion
Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism and Shinto are the main spiritual and religious influence in the show(2) drawing heavily on the Asian, South-Asian and Southeast Asian roots of the show. This further symbolises the ability of different cultures and religions to live together peacefully.

Marital Arts
A specific martial art was employed for each bending style. This symbolises the cultural and ethnic differences of the Avatar world. Aang, as the Avatar, must learn the four types of bending and so the four types of martial arts, which signifies the unity of the four schisms and emobies the 'oneness' that all people encompass simply by virtue of all being human. This is addressed off-handedly in an episode where Aang relises that while the forest he is in is composed of different trees, shrubs, grasses and animals, they are all symbiotic and interdependant. The forest is a collective community made up of individuals to become a single living whole.

Reception, Ratings and Commercial Success
Upon initial airing, ATLA was the highest rated television series in its demographic(3). The four-part final drew 95% more viewers than Nickoldean had recieved in mid-July 2007 and it was the most-viewed program in the demographic (animated or otherwise).

Now I'mma let you finish, but on IMDB, ATLA is the second-highest rated animated series of all time. Of ALL time!(4) And this is not the opinion of a single contributor; this is the rating given by the audience members of the tv shows. South Park ranks 11.

Round 1 summary
While I do have substantially more to to bring to the discussion, I have an essay due today! In future rounds I will discuss the themes of immigration, terrorism, racism and sexism which are pertinent in contemporary society and how education children about this material before they have been indoctrinated by hateful societies is a positive step to creating a kinder, gentler world, especially given the series' syndication in 105 countries worldwide and the massive viewership it garnishes(3).

In summary, ATLA is goes beyond the mere precepts of entertainment. The show lives, breathes, bleeds and cries along with the audience and a winding, rising and beautifully constructed narrative. Though, of course, the forumla is borrowed from other highly successful mainstream entertainment sources, the creators took the creative zeal needed to pull of what is now a piece of cultural history and ran with it.

ATLA is not just the best show in terms of ratings. It is the best in terms of its engagement, messages, depth, scope, intricacy and beauty. I countend that ATLA is not only the best animated series; it is in fact the best tv show of all time.

Best of luck for your round!


1. [http://www.forbes.com...]
2. [http://avatar.wikia.com...]
3. [http://en.wikipedia.org...]
4. [http://www.imdb.com...]
Ozzyhead

Con

Ozzyhead forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Ozzyhead

Con

Ozzyhead forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Ozzyhead

Con

Ozzyhead forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by republicofdhar 2 years ago
republicofdhar
I know what you mean, ugh. It's such a coincidence. Now that Legend of Korra is out, I was rewatching ATLA over the last few weeks. That show made my childhood and has a sense of relevance to me even now (I'm 18 now).

That Bible comment tho HAHAHA
Posted by InnovativeEphemera 2 years ago
InnovativeEphemera
It's pretty infuriating. My last five or so debates have resulted in bailouts of my competitors. I'm here to test and develop my level of skill, not pump out a bogus ELO.

Of course, you're absolutely right, ATLA is probably the single best piece of entertainment ever produced.
Except the bible of course ;)
Posted by republicofdhar 2 years ago
republicofdhar
I'm writing this comment here so I get a notification when this debate is in the voting round. The Last Airbender is undoubtedly the best cartoon in history (and Con didn't prove otherwise) :) :)
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
InnovativeEphemeraOzzyheadTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeiture
Vote Placed by QTAY21 2 years ago
QTAY21
InnovativeEphemeraOzzyheadTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:60 
Reasons for voting decision: Don't need to say much, pro was the only one who had arguments.