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Recently, I’ve seen quite a few posts about Mary Sue characters cross my dash that I don’t feel accurately deconstruct or understand the term. As someone who feels very strongly about the representation of women in media, (and as someone who has been reading fan fiction since the age of Yahoo emailing lists and live journal) I felt the need to write an article on the subject. Hopefully this will help inspire some writers and settle the concerns of others.
1. What Is a Mary Sue Character?:
The term “Mary Sue originates from the name of a character created by Paula Smith in 1973 for her parody story “A Trekkie’s Tale" published in her fanzine Menagerie 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. The best fan written definition I have come across can be found: here
In essence: A Mary-sue character is a female character that shares three major characteristics:
- They are poorly written and one dimensional with incredibly predictable personality traits.
- They are the romantic interest of nearly all the male characters within the text.
- They are infallible in many ways. Including but not limited to intelligence, battle prowess, wit, and the consequences of their own actions.
What I believe most people who criticize the Mary Sue trope are missing, is that these characteristics all have different weights of importance to the development and identification of a Mary Sue character.
The most important characteristic of the three is the first listed: That Mary Sue characters are poorly written.
The reason that this is the most important characteristic is that without this aspect of the term, many of the strong amazing female characters who you would never even dream of considering “Mary Sue” characters would have to fall underneath the term.
It is the defining difference between characters of quality who happen to be strong and interesting and compelling, and characters who seem to have inherited these personality traits from osmosis. Meaning that the difference between a strong/diverse female character and a Mary Sue is the quality of character development and (in many cases) the understanding of well studied character design.
Without understanding the importance of this particular aspect of Mary Sue characters, the following characters would be considered Mary Sues: Xena, Martha Jones, Anne of Green Gables, Eowyn, Rose Tyler, Sailor Moon, Wonder Woman, Black Widow, Katniss Everdeen, Allison Argent, Lisbeth Salander etc.
As you know, these women are decidedly NOT Mary Sue characters.
The list above is designed to showcase how vital being “poorly written” is for a character to qualify as Mary Sue. There is a certain… laziness that is associated with the personality and character development arc of known Mary Sue characters (Like Bella Swan for example). And one cannot be defined as a Mary Sue character without it…
Transit authorities in cities across the country are quietly installing microphone-enabled surveillance systems on public buses that would give them the ability to record and store private conversations. The systems are raising a number of privacy…
Another step towards increased governmental control…
There are few legitimate reasons for this.
Emotionally intense images of retired Philadelphia police captain Ray Lewis - who has joined the #OccupyWallStreet protests - being arrested by the NYPD.
Captain Lewis has been outspoken against the NYPD’s wrongful use of violence against peaceful protesters.
From what I have seen, Ray Lewis’ conduct defines honor, bravery, and dignity.
There is a media blackout on images of his participation in the protest, and on his arrest:
It’s proved impossible for me to get this shot of former Philadelphia Police Cpt. Ray Lewis being arrested, published anywhere. I was adamantly rebuffed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, NYT, local NY papers, and Newsweek, before even looking at the photograph. One of the only published photos of this paradoxical and intense event is located here at the NYC Observer:
Make this viral and they will come.
Ray Lewis gets 2 posts this morning, because this needs to be seen. I’m not even sure why, but this pair of photos made me cry hysterically.
oh my god. so much props to this man. this country has turned into utter fucking insanity.
Philadelphia, for a city with a history of violence, gangs, economic issues, and so on, has proved to be the most tolerant, level-headed, reasonable point in this whole shitstorm that the OWS movement is becoming, and it’s getting very little national notice.
In addition, this man, who was IN CHARGE of a substantial number of law enforcers in this city is standing up against something he believes is wrong, and that is only respectable.
I want to give that man a hug.
I’ve basically been turning a blind eye to the whole Occupy Wall Street thing, as an Australian it didn’t feel relevant to me.
But this really, really deserves a reblog.