I have a couple of thoughts that I might be having a hard time articulating but Imma try.
I really don’t like characters who are all woecake about their tragic backstory. Who reference it non-stop in a ploy for sympathy. This goes for characters of any gender.
Most “Mary Sue/Gary Stu” characters don’t do this, that I’ve seen. A lot of the time, it’s just there. Tony Stark, he doesn’t generally go around whining about his dad. You know it’s there, but it’s not like this Major Thing That Has To Come Up Every Five Minutes.
But sometimes characters do do that. And when they do, those are the ones that I call Mary Sues or Gary Stus, and they make me very angry.
I have this aversion to helplessness. I have this aversion to being a victim of your circumstances (and much as I love MCU!Loki, this part of him drives me absolutely batty). I hate it when a character insists that that tragic backstory is the most important part of them. Dude, shut the fuck up, quit whining, and go do something about it, because there is more to you than that. I love characters who rise above their shit and do amazing, perhaps unrealistic things.
Maybe the ones I hate aren’t really Mary Sues, I don’t know. Maybe they’re not.
I know a lot of this is my own personal bias, things in my own life that got me here, but victim mentality just…I can’t. And I do see that in “Mary Sue” characters, of all genders, and that’s what I don’t like, and just…your mileage may vary.
My mileage is, it is a gendered attack.
No one is required to like any character. You can dislike a character. For any reason. Or no reason at all. I have characters I despise, both canon and OC. Partially because of bad writing, partially because of the baggage I BRING INTO A STORY AS A READER, and partially because of what society has told me is important.
Here’s the deal, though. You started off by saying, “Mary Sues or Gary Stus,” and then you dropped the “Gary Stu” portion of it. Twice more, you deliberately use “Mary Sue” with no balancing male equivalent. The attack is on MARY SUES, and Mary Sue is reserved for female characters. Let’s not kid ourselves, here.
The gender makes a difference.
If it doesn’t, fine, then stop using the term. But none of my male OCs have been called Marty Stus, Maurice Stus, or Gary Stus (and yes, the fact that there is no accepted term for male versions of this is indicative of the fact that NO ONE USES IT) All of my female characters have.
Society has different expectations for male and female characters. What is considered ‘realistic’ for Male and Female characters, or white and POC characters, is different.
How many reviews did you see calling Natasha ‘eye candy’ or ‘serving no purpose’ in Avengers, despite the fact that she was in integral part of the plot? How many of those SAME REVIEWS had a problem with Clint SHOOTING DOWN PLANES WITHOUT LOOKING? How was Clint believable, using some of the worst archery form that I’ve ever seen, taking out planes from behind his back, but Natasha? Natasha is clearly unrealistic.
The term is loaded, and the term is used to attack female characters. I have no objection to people disliking characters, for reasons that are rational or irrational. I have a problem with people using a term that makes a deliberate attack on gender when complaining about or objecting to that character.
There is a series of Star Trek books by Peter David, the New Frontier books. Let me just… Tell you about he main character, okay?
-He was a literal teenage warlord who literally freed his planet and his people from colonization by another species.
-Literally. A TEENAGE WARLORD WHO LED HIS PEOPLE FROM SLAVERY.
-While in the process of being a teenage warlord who led his people from slavery, he meets Jean-Luc Picard
-Who sponsors him for entry into Star Trek academy, despite the fact that he has no formal education, has had no training in sciences or advanced technology, and if I am remembering correctly, is barely literate.
-BUT JEAN-LUC RECOGNIZES LEADERSHIP POTENTIAL IN HIM SO YEAH HE’S GOING TO SKIP ALL THOSE TROUBLESOME TESTS AND SUCH AND HE’S GOING TO THE ACADEMY.
-The series follows him being a hotshot Star Fleet Captain who don’t have to obey no rules because rules are for SUCKERS.
-If any of you know anything about Star Fleet, I’m sure you’re giggling like a loon right now, because Star Fleet loves rules so much that it’s almost sexual.
-His first officer is his ex-fiance. Who still kind of loves him despite the fact that she should know better. (She is practically perfect in every way, in the BEST way, though so he kind of looks better because she tolerates him)
-He’s a champion sword fighter
-He dies to save his crew
-Don’t worry, he gets better.
-He has purple eyes.
So let’s go over the major ‘fanfic Mary Sue tropes’ here.
-unreasonable levels of badass
-inexplicable connection to canon character who heartily approves/loves the OC
-everyone loves them
-odd colored eyes.
Hmm. We’ve got a pretty good match here! So that must mean these books were boring and unbelievable, right?
Nah. I would’ve followed Mackenzie Calhoun into battle any day. I love him. I followed willingly along with what was, let’s be honest, “Peter David Writes Star Trek Fanfic and Manages to Get It Published.”
THE TROPES DON’T MAKE A CHARACTER BAD. Tropes exist for a reason. Tropes exist because they are tried and true. Because writers, often young, female writers, many of whom fall somewhere in the queer spectrum, are reclaiming their power, are writing self-inserts or perfect characters or just characters they want to read. Idealized characters. Hopeful characters.
My issue with the “Mary Sue” tag is that it is gendered. Yes. There is the male equivalent, “Maurice Stu” is the one I’ve seen the most. But you know what? That’s not in general use. That’s never been leveled against any of my male characters. That is an attempt on the part of certain portions of fandom to claim that this is NOT A SEXIST ATTACK.
And to that, I say, like hell it’s not.
Mary Sue is the term used to shame female authors. It is used to discourage adding female characters to fanworks. It is used to exclude and attack and maintain the status quo, where, slash or not, typically the only characters that are focused on are the white males.
It is shorthand for “girls aren’t welcome, in canon, in fandom, or in fanworks.”
You think an character is unrealistic? Then say that. Don’t use the shorthand. Think about what you’re saying. Why are you rolling your eyes and thinking Mary Sue. What, exactly, are you targeting here? What characteristics? What actions? What abilities?
Look for specifics. And if you can’t find any, then think about gender, or skin color, or religion, or queerness. Think if you objection would be valid if the character was one of the main characters, or even just an adorable white male.
But before you move beyond thinking it, before you SAY it, think. Think about why this character is written in this work by this author. Think about the ability of the author and the age and intent of the work. And think about if it’s really necessary for you to tell someone that you think their characters don’t meet your expectations.
Especially female characters. We have media that gives us a vastly, VASTLY unbalanced scale when it comes to female characters, POC characters, queer characters. So think before trying to silence them in fanworks, too.
The term “Mary Sue” comes from the name of a character created by Paula Smith in 1973 for her parody story “A Trekkie’s Tale”:15 published in her fanzine Menagerie #2.The story starred Lieutenant Mary Sue (“the youngest Lieutenant in the fleet — only fifteen and a half years old”), and satirized unrealistic Star Trek fan fiction. Such characters were generally original female adolescents who had romantic liaisons with established canonical adult characters, or in some cases were the younger relatives or protégées of those characters.
The term was created to mock teenage girls who dared to try to create.
I repeat: THE TERM WAS CREATED TO MOCK TEENAGE GIRLS WHO DARED TO TRY TO CREATE. Who wanted to see someone like themselves in Star Trek. Who wanted to imagine that they could fit into that world. Who wanted to believe that the mostly male world of Star Trek could have a place for SOMEONE LIKE THEM.
You don’t have to like wish fulfillment characters. You don’t have to praise them. You don’t even have to read them.
But I wish people wouldn’t MOCK the very people who are trying to create new spaces for themselves in fandoms and worlds that are very often not welcoming.
Mary Sue is a loaded, shaming term, and if I had my will, I would kill it with fire.
Oh, you’re reading Moomins? I love that series. The way they just [clenches fist] moom all those freakin’ mins.
gay smut someone reads"
sext: i want to pay bills and share household duties and approach our late 20’s in a financially and emotionally stable way with you
It’s always worth checking tumblr, especially from a conference. I need all the hot Canadian moral support I can get.