Monthly Archives: March 2013

In defense of Mary Sue/Mary Sue, my hero


Let me mention two things right away.
First, I only learned about who a Mary Sue was a few years ago. I credit the Twilight phenomenon and the seemingly endless articles, blog posts, analysis written about it for really introducing me to the concept of Mary Sue.
Second, there is nothing is wrong with Mary Sue. There I said it. It seems almost blasphemy for me to proclaim this since I noticed the term was most often (always?) used derisively – a kind of short hand for a hack writer or the misguided fantasies of a fan or just the willfully obtuse reader.
Instead I think Mary Sues provide outlets for our most perfected selves, the adolescent fantasies when you dreamed you had actual super powers and no one could oppose you OR it was simply either your beauty, your wit, your courage or your style (feel free to chime in here any fantasies of perfection you have) that could manage to turn anyone into an ally or admirer.
For the remaining few who were not converted, you had the power, skill or just luck at times to defeat them in some fashion or another. You know, because of the greatness of you. This is fantasy after all so why not? The fantasy of perfection is not dangerous once you learn what it is its limits and impossibility. Many, fictitious characters whether they are Mary Sue or not, are an exaggerated fantasy of some aspect of ourselves we want to explore/wish we could be/do/have/etc.
I think the rash of negativity have conflated the trope with the awful, yet mind boggingly popular stories Mary Sue has been featured in as of late. Instead of hanging up the trope all together (I very rarely think an aspect of story telling has absolutely no redeeming value), I just think the trope needs – smarter, more complex stories to be featured in. • A helpful hint for future writers of Mary Sue – please give the character real stakes, something that they care about must really appear to be on the line (so worded, because you know as the Mary Sue she’s gonna triumphant in the end)
Ok, this post isn’t an absolute paen to Mary Sue. Though she deserves to exist and function ever at the ready in an author’s arsenal, the trope shouldn’t be a short hand for young, white, and beautiful (though of course the character is unaware of her beauty –sigh) either. This is a fantasy that resonates with a wide swath of people across lines of gender, race, class, and age. Why shouldn’t they be reflected more in these stories that are truly all about fantasies?