See this guy?
Mako (voiced by David Faustino)
If you’ve watched the Nickelodeon animated series, The Legend of Korra (created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino), as I have, you might have a definite opinion about Mako. I’m betting it’s negative. And it might be due to his dealings with
and Asami (voiced by Seychelle Gabriel)
(Click on the series name above or here if you want more information about it.) If you fall on the anti-Mako side, you wouldn’t be alone. Google hate mako legend of korra and you’ll discover posts written by ranting fans with strong opinions about Mako’s ethics (or lack thereof in their opinion).
If you hate spoilers, better run right now. While I refuse to spoil the current season, I can’t avoid at least some spoilers for last season (Book One: Air). You see, Mako dated Asami, though aware that Korra had feelings for him. But dating Asami didn’t stop him from kissing Korra, obsessing over her, and later breaking up with Asami. Sound like a soap opera? That’s the kind of love triangle you see in many young adult books and TV series.
But I didn’t write this post to dwell on Mako’s love life as intriguing as it may be (or not, depending on your opinion of the dude). No, what struck me about some of the diatribes about him was the fact that his character was judged as “boring” and his firebending ability (his ability to wield fire, for those of you who aren’t familiar with the world of Avatar) labeled as not “cool” enough.
The word cool is very hard to pin down, because it is so subjective. What’s cool to me might be lame to you and vice versa. (And also to the Doctor of Doctor Who, who believes that fezzes are cool.)
Now, I never considered Mako uncool. Look at him. He’s got that scarf and those fingerless gloves. And he can shoot fire and lightning out of his hands. But for many fans, that’s not cool enough.
The other day I sat at my computer, pondering how to make a character “cool.” Actually, I sat at my computer playing Spider Solitaire. But I gave a little thought to the topic, because of my warrior character. I worry that readers might put the “uncool” card on him because honestly, I have no idea how to reach for that star. Cool? How do you even start? Does he have to have that unshaven look, a conspicuous tattoo, killer grin, washboard abs, great hair, and a name like Logan or Declan? Judging by some of the covers of young adult and new adult books, that look is considered “cool.” (Which means my character will get sent to remedial cool school.) But coolness is a slippery slope, an ever-shifting designation that only those in the know seem to have a handle on. And even that population shifts.
Is coolness something you’re shooting for in a character? What makes a character “cool” to you?
Mako images from r5ko.wordpress.com and nerdist.com. Korra from superbwallpapers.com. Asami from fanpop.com. Matt Smith as the Doctor from doctorwhotv.co.uk.