Some see a simple Wipe It Down, we see trenchant Avatar: The Last Airbender analysis

Some might watch the brief video below, an installment of the TikTok mainstay “Wipe It Down” challenge, and see only a fun bit of editing trickery and makeup magic. It is those things. But, reader, look beyond. Probe more deeply. Do what Uncle would have you do: Look within yourself to save yourself from your other self. Only then will your true self reveal itself.

Or, just think about it from an Avatar: The Last Airbender character perspective. Either works. Hell, even just watching it because it is fun and cool works. I’m sure writer/actor/director/multi-hyphenate creator Eugene Lee Yang won’t mind.

First, a delight. One of the true pinnacles of the form. We applaud the artist. (Also that Azula nose contour? Excellent. Brow game, also top notch.)

But if we could put on our analytical glasses and puff ourselves up for a moment, Yang actually gets at something really insightful about Zuko (voiced by the terrific Dante Basco) in jumping on this particular bandwagon. Seriously, if you’re going to attempt a Wipe It Down cosplay moment from here on out, Yang has thrown the gauntlet. In wiping from Zuko to his maniacal sister, Azula, Yang turns the fun TikTok gimmick into a statement about Zuko’s greatest fear: That he’ll wind up a murderous tyrant like his sister, and their father before them. This is supported by the little details! Azula is clearly taunting him, or the Azula that’s living rent-free in his mind is, anyway. The eyebrows! The wink! The hand to the mouth! That long, lingering stare at the end!

It’s also a pretty damn good Azula impression:

But the crowning detail is the force with which Yang’s Zuko attempts to wipe Azula away. (Yes, this sounds ridiculous, but it is true; this is very good character analysis and cultural criticism and it is wordless and 17 seconds long, what are we even doing with our lives?) Watch him again at around the 13-second mark (this time on TikTok, in case you want to give him a follow):

Please, Eugene Lee Yang, do Korra/Kuvira next?

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