An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...
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Thread: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

  1. #1

    Default An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    After reading this post, I've been questioning claims about who's a Mary Sue. It seems to be used a lot for female character people just don't like.

    Am I the only one here?

    (Note: any derailing discussions on DW or AOS must be left out. Go to the Entertainment section for that)

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    Less cute in person Beth Pavell's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Two things I've noticed about the "Mary Sue" terminology. Firstly, and most obviously, is that no-one's really sure quite what it means. More or less everyone uses the term in a different way, and that inevitably muddies the waters.

    And yes, there is something of a double standard. People seem to generally be less bothered about Marty than Mary (A good example that I can think of is Petyr Baelish of A Song of Ice and Fire, who sticks out in the series as the only infallible character)
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    It is DEFINITELY used too much to mean female characters someone doesn't like. Besides that, you almost never hear people complain about the male equivalent in mainstream media.
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    I've never actually heard anyone use Mary Sue for mainstream media, male or female (or anyone whose opinion I take seriously, at least, but I don't follow the internet-sphere as closely as I could). This is typically because main stream media writers are, surprisingly, much more skilled than the average fanfic writer, and they actually write good, multi-faceted characters of both genders. Barring complete train wrecks such as Eragon or Twilight, I would hesitate to drop the M-word on any mainstream media character, male or female.

    Can't say I'm well-enough versed in tumblr/internet-verse to speak for anyone else.

  5. #5

    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Not sure if I'm the right Person to Judge, but here's my 2 cents.
    Another definition of a Mary Sue isn't just a "Perfect Character", but a "Perfect Character" who is clearly based on the Person who Created the Fiction, and a number of people don't like it because they feel like the creator is rubbing their Narcissism in our faces. It's the main reason by Hardcore Fans of Eugene Wesley Roddenberry's Star Trek hates Will Weaton's Character.

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    Into Darkness Peering Rediamond's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    I'm not sure why the term is as prevalent in the fan fiction community as it is to be honest. I think in its purest form it means a bad character that is clearly meant to serve as wish-fulfillment, but it's kind of been expanded well beyond its original limits. Rather than looking for genuine character flaws and strengths there's definitely a tendency in the community to go Sue-hunting to denounce any character that meets the definition, however narrowly, while ignoring or praising poorly built or developed characters that don't meet it.

    I really only view a character as bad if their presence does not increase the quality of the work. Characters, like almost everything else in fiction, are devices to be used to improve the whole. If they don't, they failed and shouldn't be there. The bad Sues are bad because their lack of depth is painfully obvious and they never have a serious enough challenge to build suspense, which lowers the quality of the writing.

    Just my thoughts.

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    I'm A Bit-I Mean Witch Capricious Equilibrium's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    The most accepted term of Mary-Sue is a 'flawless' character, who will always have the story bend so they're portrayed in a good light and seem... Well... Flawless. If they do have flaws, other characters in the fic tend to be endeared by them, such as clumsiness. It's especially noticeable when the writer breaks up a couple in the original media who're portrayed as very close, just so one half can date their Marty/Mary. They are often 'inserts' of the writer.

    I agree that the term is used too much, especially when someone has some vendetta against some character. But sometimes, it's just bad writing or an inexperienced writer... *cough*Twilight*cough*.

  8. #8

    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    The term has no proper usage outside of fan fiction.

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    Me am stalking bug Instrutilus's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Mary Sue is a term that refers to a character that has a massive skill unnaturally at an early age, such as graduating a prestigious academy incredibly early, while having a close relationship, either familiar or romantically, to a main character, be it of the series or another that could conceivably be tied to the one being portrayed (such as a sister of a Power Ranger becoming the Doctor's companion, since apparently Gallifrey was in Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy). Their relationships to others are universal, be it of love or hate, and is usually designed around the author's perception of the relationship around them as a MS is designed to be a fantasy self-insert, rather then a straight self-insert. They're often flawless in their stories, though critical thinking would quickly show many flaws, because of this and thus rarely developed.

    So yes, there is an major misuse of the term "Mary Sue" to characters that don't deserve it. Dawn from Pokémon isn't a Mary Sue, she was just a flat character. Bella Swan from Twilight is, being special by being immune to vampire powers, being important to a plot that she has no real reason to be, having close relationships with two major characters and never really having any flaws described (despite many being able to point out several flaws in her personality). Perhaps someone should compile a standardized Mary Sue Test, like a Bechdel Test, and run through media finding and figuring out who are MS and who are just flat characters.

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    Requiem Raver Drakon's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Elric von Bek View Post
    The term has no proper usage outside of fan fiction.
    Actually it does. The term usually refers to an overly idealized and flawless character who has the plot bend to their will/everything goes perfect for them. It is irrelevant whether the story is an original story or fan fiction.

    However, a problem I find with Mary Sue tests is that they seem to obsess over a character's traits (why the hell is a non-Japanese character using a katana considered a Sue trait!?). As a result, they are bogged down with meaningless questions.

    Consequently, I feel that a Mary Sue should be evaluated on the basis of how the character interacts with the other characters, the setting and the plot.

    Also, here's a character for y'all to determine if he's a Mary Sue (in this case, Gary Stu).

    He's always described a stunningly handsome with particular emphasis on his eyes; he always gets the women; he's rugged; he has a huge antique car collection; he's a skilled diver, pilot, captain, fighter, gunslinger, swimmer and engineer; he thwarted numerous evil plots and he's pretty much never made a mistake.

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  11. #11

    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Drakon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Elric von Bek View Post
    The term has no proper usage outside of fan fiction.
    Actually it does. The term usually refers to an overly idealized and flawless character who has the plot bend to their will/everything goes perfect for them. It is irrelevant whether the story is an original story or fan fiction.
    Agreed with this definition. I'd say generally, a Mary Sue character seems to be perfect, to the point the world seems to be based around them, not the other way around. Partly why 'Chosen Ones' are usually strong candidates, at least for consideration. And also similar things like the character being of special importance in other ways. So, yeah, I don't see how it makes any difference whether it's fanfiction or original fiction.

    However, a problem I find with Mary Sue tests is that they seem to obsess over a character's traits (why the hell is a non-Japanese character using a katana considered a Sue trait!?). As a result, they are bogged down with meaningless questions.
    If you're referring to the test I think you are (ie, this one), then that's just an example of giving characters exotic characteristics or something, and an equally valid one would be a Japanese character using a longsword. The point is that the character has something (in this case a weapon) to draw attention to them and separate them from everyone else, hence they're made to be 'special'. But yeah, there are a fair few irrelevant or at least partially-irrevelant questions.

    Actually I suspect it may also be playing on the popular image of the katana as being some sort of 'perfect sword', or something ridiculous like that. Despite the fact that they're short, heavy and take two hands to use well. They do cut well, though.

    Consequently, I feel that a Mary Sue should be evaluated on the basis of how the character interacts with the other characters, the setting and the plot.
    Yes, I largely agree with this. I think details like the above are still relevant to an extent because they make a character seem special, and draw attention to them over other characters, but I agree what you're saying is largely what actually makes someone a Mary Sue.

    Also, here's a character for y'all to determine if he's a Mary Sue (in this case, Gary Stu).

    He's always described a stunningly handsome with particular emphasis on his eyes; he always gets the women; he's rugged; he has a huge antique car collection; he's a skilled diver, pilot, captain, fighter, gunslinger, swimmer and engineer; he thwarted numerous evil plots and he's pretty much never made a mistake.
    Yes. Definitely.
    Last edited by Lord Kyuubi; 30th July 2014 at 08:05 AM.
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  12. #12

    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    There's also Mikey Kudo/Taiki Kudo from Digimon Fusion/Xros Wars. Even if I like him, he's too perfect of a character.

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  13. #13

    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    I thought the term originated from some old Star Trek fanzine fiction. If I'm wrong, then I'll rephrase my initial point: "Mary Sue", like "Grimdark," has no place in academic discourse. There is, of course, simple bad writing. Which may or may not be the case for the Cussler character mentioned a few posts above. Having not read anything by the author, I can't offer any further comments.

  14. #14
    I'm fabulous! Eliza Prescott's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    I'd argue that the term grimdark is perfectly valid when it comes to writing, just overused by angsty teenagers who have no understanding of what's truly evil and dark about the world, its people and the things we do to each other.

    Now, I'm not a fan of AMC's The Walking Dead at all, and I think it's a poorly written storyline hyped up by brainless masses (how about that?), but the setting is a perfect example of grimdark. Society has fallen apart, every character has been personally and deeply affected by it, and most importantly, there isn't hope. The only thing that sees the characters through is their determination to survive and rebuild, or survive and conquer what little remains. It's a story where there are deep divides between people that have extreme consequences that often end in more misfortune.

    People like to claim that Twilight, or even Lord of the Rings is grimdark. Twilight is a bad romance, while Lord of the Rings is high fantasy. I think that's where a lot of people take issue with the term, it being misused rather than having no merits itself.


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    ポケモンマスター みさあき's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Sometimes I think people use mary sue to mean "strong female character, me oh my"

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