Author Topic: About Mary Sue-age  (Read 735 times)

Offline Wetferret

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About Mary Sue-age
« on: September 15, 2011, 08:46:34 AM »
I always thought it was easy to spot a Mary Sue. Then I did some research and realized I had no idea what I was getting into. Not only are Mary Sue hard to identify, but different conceptions of them can be absolutely contradictory.

Later I discovered there was much debate over the sexist undertones of Mary Sue calling. I am usually quite skeptic about sexism claims in fiction for my own reasons; however I dug a little further, did a little thinking and it is a justified claim to make. Readers are much more critical of female Mary Sues in comparison to their male counterparts.

As an example of the latter, when I was younger I couldn't swallow Superman. He is undeniably a Mary Sue and I didn't get the point of a main character who always has the overwhelming upper-hand over his pitiable enemies. Fair enough, I'm sure some authors have come up with scenarios where he's pitted against challenges that are fit for his character; nevertheless he started off as god mode character and continued like that throughout a large part of his career. The question is: how did he become so popular? if he's so one dimensional, how can anyone sympathize with him? I think the answer lies in that he is the man that any boy would want to be. The double standards seem pretty obvious to the naked eye.

I do some more research and critically Blockedyze my favorite characters and so I realize a huge amount of my favorite heroes, of my youth and role-models I look up to, are also huge Mary Sues. They aren't bad characters. They are deep and their ridiculous levels of perfection are an important element of their stories.

All this makes me think, isn't being a Mary Sue a very relative concept? How the character is presented is an important part of how you embrace the character later on. Typical Mary Sues are presented in a very boring straightforward way, I believe. The way in which the character's abilities help him/her throughout the story are also important; you can be all the strong and brave you want but they can always just kill all the hostages in your face if you know what I mean. I basically believe we take these definitions too easily and don't question enough.

My rambling has been somewhat confusing, but I would enjoy your opinions and feedback, if only to help me figure out if I I've completely lost my marbles or not.

Offline bonitakale

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Re: About Mary Sue-age
« Reply #1 on: September 15, 2011, 01:32:12 PM »
I first heard about Mary Sue forty years ago, in relation to Star Trek fan fiction. She was female because the writer was female. She was the new kid on the starship, and everyone loved her. She never set a foot wrong. She might wind up in bed with Kirk. She was a daydream--the kind of daydream that can lead to a story, but only after you take out most of the wishful thinking.

My guess, but I could be wrong, is that she didn't exist in older fanfic, which was male-oriented and not based on TV shows. Or that, if she did exist as a male, he was more likely to be the Captain who is never wrong and solves all problems than the young ensign who can do everything. No one wanted Trek fanfic without the main characters.

People are harder on female Mary Sues, sure. People are harder on females in general. And people still, deep down, think of men as being more able than women in many ways other than in strength. 

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Offline McNeill

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Re: About Mary Sue-age
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2011, 07:13:20 AM »
Personally, I'd never want to read about a character in a novel who had ten super powers, was incredibly good looking and was always right, frankly, where would the story be at? But on the other hand, look at characters such as Odysseus. While they could be percieved as Mary-Sues, we can see something of ourselves in them, something to aspire to... Not a Hero's Hero, but a people's Hero. Or something. It's late...