Date: 03/26/16 02:04 am Title: Say Good-Bye to Mary-Sue
I remember when I first got into fanfiction, I heard about Mary Sues, and how they're the worst thing ever, and saw so many examples of them. For a long time, I agreed that they were marks of writers who had a long way to go. But then I did a research paper on fanfiction for my English course, and in the process of learning about the history of fanfiction and working to prove its legitimacy as a form of writing, I also learned a lot about Mary Sues.
I was shocked to find that Mary Sues really aren't completely bad. And you're right. Most people are just lazy about saying how a story can be improved, and would rather say "Your story sucks on principle because your main character is a Mary Sue!" That sucks, and is really stupid. Mostly because Mary Sues are complicated, and diverse, and have such a history. Yes, they are in part the authors trying to get some wish-fulfillment. But they're also characters who help us explore a world we're not part of. They help us see how a woman can be strong. They are the female vehicle to see women be in the same position and strength as so many canon male characters! For instance, Luke Skywalker.
Luke Skywalker is such a Mary Sue. He went from knowing nothing at all about the force, or how to use a lightsaber, and whatnot. Yet, when it came time to go through his first battle, he was brilliant and amazing, and won without even having to try hard. Yet, people were so quick to call Rey a Mary Sue because "she was too good at using a lightsaber for her first time," and "how does she know so much about machines and flying and all this stuff???" The writers did such a great job explaining how she got all this background at the very beginning of the film, yet people still wanted to complain. I loved Luke, and still do. Likewise, I absolutely adore Rey, and everything about her.
Mary Sues are brilliant character tropes, even if they don't always work to make a fic be spectacular. I feel like most people just hate them because of the fact that they don't know how to deal with a strong female in command.
Thank you for tackling the Mary Sue problem, and really calling it how it is: people just being pricks and tyring to feel superior to others. I will most certainly help you spread your message and help build up the confidence of those who have been hurt by this atrocious plague!
Author's Response: That's awesome you got to write a research paper on fan fiction! It sounds like you gained a new perspective on fan fiction as a whole, and not just Mary-Sues.
My step-dad's a huge Star Wars fan, so I should ask him one of these days about Rey, but from an outsider's perspective, every complaint I've read about her, and after learning what she's done with her life before the start of the movie, I'm flabbergasted at these complaints. Rey being Rey just makes sense from top to bottom! She's good with machines? Well she has to be if she wants to find these parts and sell them. She can fight? She's probably had to learn since she deals with scumbags while finding and selling these parts. Besides, aside from fighting, Anakin has done just about the same as Rey, right? And he was, what, ten? Were there as many complaints about Anakin as Rey? I don't know.
Thank you! ^-^