Zuko/Sokka

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Pairing
Pairing: Sokka/Zuko
Alternative name(s): Zukka
Gender category: slash
Fandom: Avatar: the Last Airbender
Canonical?: no
Prevalence: common
Archives:
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Zuko/Sokka or Zukka is a popular slash pairing in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom. During the run of the series, Zuko/Sokka was a minor ship and Zuko's least popular same-sex ship after Zuko/Jet and Zuko/Aang. However, after the series arrived on US Netflix in summer 2020 and experienced a resurgence, Zukka became one of the most popular ships in the fandom.

Zuko/Sokka had already gained some popularity before this from the airing of Netflix's 2016 Voltron: Legendary Defender because it had some of the same writers as Avatar: The Last Airbender and the same animation staff as The Legend of Korra. The juggernaut ship of the Voltron: Legendary Defender fandom was Keith/Lance which was seen by some viewers as similar to Zuko/Sokka, with Zuko being like Keith and Sokka being like Lance. This means that comparisons between Zuko/Sokka and Keith/Lance are pervasive in both fandoms.

Previously, the top ships of the ATLA fandom were Aang/Katara and Zuko/Katara. Ship wars between the two were common (see Kataang vs Zutara). After the fandom revival in 2020, the upsurge in Zukka shipping and resultant downsurge in Zutara shipping and Zutara/Kataang discourse led some fans to create the term "The Zukka Renaissance". Others have criticised this terminology and have argued that the fandom has actually become more virulent as a whole. As of February 10, 2021, there are 3943 works in Zuko/Sokka on Archive of Our Own, as compared to 4414 in Zuko/Katara, a margin that has changed drastically since the show's original run.

Fandom Controversy

Zukka shippers have been the subject of many fandom controversies, largely stemming from disagreements with Zutara (Zuko/Katara) shippers. Major controversies include:

  • Headcanoning Katara as homophobic
  • Accusing Zutara fans of perpetuating racism and colonialism
  • Sending anonymous hate to non-Zukka fans, accusing them of being racist or homophobic. Targets included minors, queer people, and people of color, which added to the anger.[1]

Zukka shippers have also created headcanons and fanon that are disliked by some other fans. Examples of this include:

  • Portraying Jet as Zuko’s abusive ex-boyfriend
  • Reading Katara’s relationship with Zuko as familial/sibling-like
  • Sokka being forced to be a parent figure to Katara
  • Suki dying early

Homophobic Katara

Homophobic Katara is a headcanon popularized on Tumblr by lesbians4sokka (comradekatara). Although they have written that the headcanon is a “little inside joke”,[2] they have also written meta on the subject:

…just because she [Katara] is morally opposed to the subjugation of women does not mean that she does not make frequent gendered comments about the gender presentation of characters she considers deviant. katara is a 14 year old girl, and she can be pretty mean. the fact that she makes homophobic jokes throughout the series is both a product of the time in which the show was written, and absolutely consistent with her character. she means well, but she can also be really cruel, and she oftentimes does not critically examine the broader implications of her insults. if you watch the show with a basic understanding of how patriarchy/sexism/misogyny/homophobia operates, katara makes more than enough comments to demonstrate that while not actively sexist and would probably be against homophobia on paper as she is all systems of oppression, she definitely internalized some pretty sexist views! if you don’t recognize katara’s sexism for what it is, it’s because it’s a lot more subtle than sokka asserting that “girls sew and men fight,” but it’s there. you only need unpack it.
https://comradekatara.tumblr.com/post/619399867486404608/people-will-cite-sokkas-sexism-but-then-turn-a [3]

This headcanon has been criticized by many as being out of character, as well as racist and misogynistic. Many believe that it became popular specifically in Zukka circles as a reason to dislike Katara, and enable the ship between Zuko and Sokka.

In response to an anonymous ask about the origins of the homophobic Katara:

Katara is the one who took a fucking sledgehammer to the North’s patriarchy in the form of challenging a fucking master to a duel she knew she couldn’t win because she was fucking pissed at his sexist attitude, Sokka is the one who had to get his ass beat by a bunch of girls before he could admit they were allowed to be capable warriors, and yet y’all are gonna come for her and act like she’s the only one in the gaang who’d be Super Strict about gender roles and would be homophobic against Zuko and her brother (nevermind that her daughter, in canon, is queer)??? Really???? Hard fucking pass, tbh. Katara deserves better, and I’m eternally pissed about how popular that stupid fucking ‘headcanon’ is. It makes no sense. Shut the fuck up forever, thanks. (Not you, anon, obviously–just the people who keep peddling that stupid ‘joke’ like it isn’t played out and also steeped in racism and misogyny.)
https://firelxdykatara.tumblr.com/post/625817938584354816/what-the-fuck-is-with-the-homophobic-katara-meme/amp [4]

Racism and Ships

Some Zukka fans have accused Zutara fans of perpetuating racist and colonialist ideals with their ship, because Zuko’s nation colonized and waged war against Katara’s. However, this argument also applies to the Zukka ship, and is therefore seen as in bad faith, an argument against the Zutara ship rather than a genuine critique of racism in fandom.[5]

This article or section needs expansion.

Example Fanworks

Fanfiction

  • Ozymandias, King of Kings by Think_of_a_Wonderful_Thought. After that fateful Agni Kai, Ozai makes a different call. Branded as a traitor and banished to a prison camp, Zuko learns how cruel the Fire Nation can be to its citizens. Three years, a water tribe raid, and an unexpected meeting with a gang of over-enthusiastic idealistic children puts Zuko back in the spotlight. The revolution is coming and it wants another poster boy, but Zuko is not willing to lend his face to the cause.
  • I'll tabletop you any day by Yuu_chi. Sokka's the high school drop-out and closet nerd working at his sister's coffee shop - Zuko is the gorgeous rich guy who comes in three times a week and orders cinnamon tea. Sokka may or may not have his entire schedule memorized. Thank god for Star Wars.
  • The Good Vanilla by Haicrescendo. Sokka’s beautiful friendship with Zuko doesn’t start with breaking Dad out of jail. That’s just what he tells people. Sokka’s beautiful friendship with Zuko started the day he realizes that he knows how to cook. Feat. breakup cake, an attempted assassination, and eating out of the pan like dirty heathens.

Archives & Fannish Links

References

  1. ^ ok, like??? yall, Jan 2021
  2. ^ Why Is Katara Homophobic
  3. ^ people will cite sokka's sexism
  4. ^ what the fuck is with the homophobic katara meme???
  5. ^ zukka is less problematic than zutara because...