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  1. #16
    .______. Elysia's Avatar
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Media aimed at children (ie Digimon, Pokemon, etc) is full of Mary Sues. I'm okay with that, because I don't think that five year-old me would've been able to understand the deeper nuances of human nature, and I don't think that especially young children really should have to. In a sense, you kind of want the shows/books aimed at young children to have "flawless" characters, because then the kids watching/reading can aspire to be good/brave/friendly/kind. When the kids are older, sure, they can understand that everyone is secretly an asshole and part of growing up is learning that everyone has flaws, but that's for later.

    I think that the propagation of the flawless character (if the term Mary Sue is really so awful) archetype that you see, primarily in fanfiction, is a flaw of new writers who are simply trying to imitate the media they absorbed as children. Yeah, Ash Ketchum's pretty flawless and boring; the fanfiction from new writers that derive from him encapsulates the same sort of thing. Pretty sure my first experiments with writing involved a massive sue, too, because it's goddamned fun to go around writing an extension of yourself that actually wins in life wow that last bit sounded a lot more depressing than I intended

    I don't know if there's an actual definition for "Mary Sue" (somehow, I doubt there is), which makes this difficult. Some people will draw the line at "character who has everything;" I prefer to draw the line at "plot bends to make life easier (or in some cases harder, with no real impact on the plot; see Angst Sue) for the character." People with the first definition, yeah, can sling that all over anything they want. The second definition is a lot harder to stick to anything outside of fanfiction. However, given that there isn't (to my knowledge) any legitimately pinned-down definition of "Mary Sue," I guess it's silly to even call it an overused term in the first place because no one knows for sure what it even means.

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

    Hardly anyone seems to know how to use the term, it's usually critics using it to show their disdain of a character in a fan-fic or such. Even OCs that have no story can get it if they have 'too many powers' or such even though they could have complete character flaws. I'd say this video explains what a Mary Sue is quite well.

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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...

    That's a good exploration of the "Mary Sue". The funny thing is that I think the Mary Sue Classic isn't nearly so common as it's parody, partly due to the huge awareness of the concept now. But it's for the reasons explored in the video that I don't see it as a term that can only apply to fanfiction - circling back round to my previous comment, Petyr Baelish of A Song of Ice and Fire is the best example I can think of a Mary Sue in original fiction (Aside from one failure in his backstory, Baelish never fails at anything he sets his mind to and is never seriously challenged by either random circumstance or rivals)

    I think what's now obvious is that by itself, "Mary Sue" isn't even really very useful as shorthand. If you were to usefully critique a character using the term you'd inevitably have to explain how and why it applies anyway
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    Quote Originally Posted by Beth Pavell View Post
    Petyr Baelish of A Song of Ice and Fire is the best example I can think of a Mary Sue in original fiction (Aside from one failure in his backstory, Baelish never fails at anything he sets his mind to and is never seriously challenged by either random circumstance or rivals)
    I would argue that he's not. He's a man so secretive, so manipulative, so suave, that nobody would expect it from him. He is a man who does not appear to have any motivations, while everyone around him is publicly making a fool of themselves, which makes it easier for him to get his way without people looking at him. As far as random circumstance, perhaps he's just good at analyzing situations on a larger scale, knowing when it's best to move along with his plans while risking the least. He's been in King's Landing for nearly two decades and he's gotten quite good at playing the game, only nobody realizes it.

    To me, Petyr Baelish is a man who's worked hard for what he's accomplished, and generally is someone who has had fortune smile on them. The same can apply to people in real life. Look at Dave Thomas, the guy who founded the Wendy's restaurant chain. He was adopted by a well to do family in his youth, took a monumental risk by dropping out of high school (which he later said was the greatest mistake of his life), but still went on to turn a failing KFC brand around as well as establish one of the most well known fast food chains in the first world. Now, would you describe his character a Mary Sue?

    Probably a terrible analogy, but it was the best I could think of.


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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...

    Quote Originally Posted by Eliza Prescott View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Beth Pavell View Post
    Petyr Baelish of A Song of Ice and Fire is the best example I can think of a Mary Sue in original fiction (Aside from one failure in his backstory, Baelish never fails at anything he sets his mind to and is never seriously challenged by either random circumstance or rivals)
    I would argue that he's not. He's a man so secretive, so manipulative, so suave, that nobody would expect it from him. He is a man who does not appear to have any motivations, while everyone around him is publicly making a fool of themselves, which makes it easier for him to get his way without people looking at him. As far as random circumstance, perhaps he's just good at analyzing situations on a larger scale, knowing when it's best to move along with his plans while risking the least. He's been in King's Landing for nearly two decades and he's gotten quite good at playing the game, only nobody realizes it.

    To me, Petyr Baelish is a man who's worked hard for what he's accomplished, and generally is someone who has had fortune smile on them. The same can apply to people in real life. Look at Dave Thomas, the guy who founded the Wendy's restaurant chain. He was adopted by a well to do family in his youth, took a monumental risk by dropping out of high school (which he later said was the greatest mistake of his life), but still went on to turn a failing KFC brand around as well as establish one of the most well known fast food chains in the first world. Now, would you describe his character a Mary Sue?

    Probably a terrible analogy, but it was the best I could think of.
    Well, other opinions are available. My main argument is that he always analyses the situation perfectly. He never makes a mistake in a story which is built upon lots of clever characters plotting against one another and making mistakes.
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    No computer so can't talk long but I've always thought that Peter was unnaturally good at getting everything except for what he really wanted/the only thing he really ever wanted,
    And, despite his best schemings, he will ostensibly never get that thing.

    There's also the theory that he's actually a retroactive liar--things work well into his favor, and he embellishes his own plans/thoughts to make himself look more manipulative/cunning/smart than he actually is.

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

    Very interesting video, Pinkiepiefox. It's kinda weird though... in a way, Mary Sue is bad for the exact same reasons why a game gets boring once you beat it: they/you're so powerful, there's no challenge and the whole plot/game becomes boring as a result.
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    Default Re: An issue with the term "Mary Sue" I've notice...

    The exact definition of a "Mary Sue" depends on who you ask, but to me, a Mary Sue is a character who is basically perfect in every way and has virtually no flaws whatsoever, and even if they do have a flaw, it's usually petty if anything.
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