|tielan (tielan) wrote,|
@ 2010-04-13 09:51 am UTC
There would appear to be three basic characteristics of a Mary Sue:
- female character with many skills, gifts, abilities (ie. "awesome female character")
- self-insert character
- badly written (includes reality-warping, canon-character warping, gaining everything without effort, etc.)
There are probably others, but these are the ones I've seen brought up in the discussion so far.
Different meta will focus on different aspects dependent on the concerns of the individual.
Some people aren't comfortable with female characters having so many skills. miss_haitch's post here argues against this mindset, but in a post that derides the culture of Mary Sue shaming,
(Note on the plausibility of female characters having so many gifts: miss_haitch's post takes three canonical male characters from three different fandoms and describes them using a female pronoun. The results have unmistakeable flavours of Sue-ishness, yet no-one has ever levelled such an accusation at these characters. Implausibility, it seems, is only relevant when dealing with female characters.)
Others are arguing against bad writing, where an original female character comes into a universe and begins warping it around her. They're displeased with the depiction of characters who suddenly become not only accepting of but eager to have someone completely new and unknown telling them how to better do their job, manage their relationships, or save the world.
Then there are people who have issues with the obvious self-insert character. Of course, this aspect is complicated by the fact that the self-insert not only has its 'famous' examples - Gene Roddenberry and Wesley (Eugene) Crusher, and Stephenie Meyer and Bella Swan, Mercedes Lackey and Miste the Herald-Chronicler of Valdemar - but also can come into play where a fan identifies with a canon character that they feel 'resembles' them (mentally, intellectually, physically, psychologically) and then uses that canon character as their 'self-insert' in that universe. Bad writing often follows self-insertion, simply because the writer, having placed themselves in that universe, is unable to keep from involving the character in the thick of the action, and canon-warping tends to follow hard on ze's heels.
My own biases against Mary Sueishness lie primarily with bad writing (specifically canon warping). Someone else's may lie with female characters being 'too gifted to be realistic'. Still other people are wary of the self-insert character and the canon warping that tends to follow.
I suspect, when people say "celebrate Mary Sue", they're mostly not advocating bad writing so much as encouraging the development of fabulous female characters. And when people say "down with Mary Sue", they're mostly not decrying fabulous female characters so much as being wary of bad writing that doesn't just start off bad but continues to be bad over the course of years.
And that's something to keep in mind as we go into the next round of posts about Mary Sues, most likely themed "why I hate Mary Sue".