Before you read on, know this: this is all just an opinion. A petty, insignificant opinion. And like any opinion, yes, you too have a right to your own. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to comment in a review. Although flames are an (unkind) opinion, you're free to do that too, I guess. I deserve it, obviously, for posting such provocative material. Thank you for reading.
In the realms of Fanfiction, many things exist. Some are good. But some are also, and perhaps most widely known, bad. The good, the bad and the things that just should not be put out there. In many cases (and opinions), the latter referring to the perky, darling character Mary Sue. That's Fanfiction summarised in four sentences for you. Score.
Oh, before I get carried away, please reassure me that you know what a Sue is. Mary Sue? Original character that goes about her life with incomprehensible flair and no doubt farts the smell of fresh baked cookies? Jeez, you had me worried for a while- don't scare me like that.
For many, Mary Sueism coincides with the notion of doom, manifested through the seemingly innocent fan-based story. The perfectly likable character, buxom with talent, beauty and charisma, transcends all laws of flawed nature with such supremacy, leaving behind a bitter taste in the reader's mouth.
"Strong, kind. Always there for you, and [she's beautiful] to boot. [She's] perfect. Perfect...Perfectly infuriating! [She] Drives me crazy!" (Hades, Kingdom Hearts I)
Investigating the nature of the Mary Sue requires delving deep into the workings of the mind of her creator- the author. So, what possesses a writer to conjure up such a reality-defying character? Why the obsession with personifying intangible perfection? Are writers even aware they are creating a Mary Sue?
Of course, the Mary Sue lies within the deep desires of human nature. We're always looking for the best. It's always the best qualities that come out on top. We buy the best brands and hire employees with the best qualities. Such is a fact of life. People are obsessed with the notion of perfection- battling it out to be the smartest, most successful and attractive, knocking each other down in order to sit atop the pedestal of perfection. It's a vicious, never ending cycle. But it exists. However, the Mary Sue goes beyond this mere human desire for perfection. She is perfection. The epitome of perfectionism, in its whole entirety. Nothing comes close to her might, not even the canon characters in which exist in the same universe as her.
So, if we humans are so obsessed with thoughts of perfection, why does Mary Sue, the object of idealistic desires, turn readers off? Simple- because she is all we could never be. As confirmed, humans are entranced with the idea of being dominant over each other; however, by some fortunate law of nature, perfection does not entirely exist. We know in reality flaws exist, whether it be miniscule down to the last freckle, or right up to the overbearing context of the very nature of human beings. Flaws exist, which is what makes life so valuable. It's the struggle to be the best you can be, even if you can never reach the point of complete, utter perfection.
Mary Sue defies these laws of nature, bypassing the barriers of reality and ridiculing us readers for possessing all the abilities we may never possess in one neat, little package.
Of course, one could argue that the character Mary Sue is for the fulfillment of the readers.
"Do readers always wanna read about characters with flaws and problems like them? Don't we get enough doses of reality as it is? Why would we wanna read stories when we could live through it already?"
You could justify this as your reason for your Mary Sue...
But I still think you'd earn yourself a lot of infuriated readers for wasting their precious time.
Indeed, perhaps some readers divulge themselves into stories for the need of escapism. Sometimes we need a break from reality- it's understandable.
However, that doesn't mean Mary Sue is understandable. The majority of readers would not enjoy having an ostentatious character as multi-faceted as a sheet of paper poke fun at us for her wonderful perfection that we'll never possess.
Of course, I don't speak for everyone when I say this, but in my opinion, seeking out a story featuring a Sue's experiences is not a favourable form of escapism. You don't want to be reminded of how flawed and inadequate you are. Reality already gives you enough of a jab in the eye without having to read how everything goes right for little-miss-perfect. She makes a big impact on everyone's lives, she resolves her dull, seemingly non-existent problems, and she gets her man (or several men). Sweet, everyone wins.
I apologise to say this, but using Mary Sue as an attempt to entrance readers of an enticing universe falls short. Yes- I completely agree that readers do tend to seek out stories that exceed the experiences of an ordinary life. Such is the power of literature. We, the readers are able to fall into a fantastical world beyond comprehension. We want to suspend reality, even for a while. But what really connects the readers to such a world created by the writer?
Each character should depict a meaningful asset to the story. Readers should be able to sympathise, connect with the character and go on a journey with them. Characters should be able to entrance an audience, inviting readers to live their lives and travel to places beyond the imagination. We want to laugh, cry and gasp at their experiences. They're there to engage a reader's flights of fancy. Let us go on a journey without ever leaving home.
Indeed, such a romantic notion cannot be upheld through utilising a Mary Sue. She simply forces us readers into the backseat, and like a fly on the wall observe why her life is tragically beautiful beyond anything we could compare. It's all about Mary Sue. She's the star of this show. Her, her, her..
It seems almost selfish to create a Mary Sue when you think about it.
Even in the real world, the closest thing to perfection is a glaringly harsh to witness. We could all relate to the feeling. Being mediocre and seemingly untalented is a cruel punishment when looking upon others who seem to have everything.
Take me, for a quick example. I have a strange perk, a phobia, so to speak, of the very notion of perfection. Life appears to be based on being the best at everything and if I see a person seeming able to live up to these ridiculous standards, I get intimidated. There's a girl I know- student leader, straight-A student, very attractive. Very approachable and bubbly. But she scares me. Terrified, I go out of my way just to steer clear from her, avoiding coming close within a ten-metre radius. Why, might you ask, with questionable glances of my sanity? Because I'm afraid of what I can't be. Something I strive so hard for is witnessed before my eyes, teasing me. I hate it.
Which leads back to my point of little Miss Mary Sue...
How can we relate to her? The answer is simple: we can't. Mary Sue was truly never intended for readers to connect and sympathise with. She isn't our kindred spirit, or our soul-sister through the medium of literature. She's merely an object for poking fun at us, flawed humans. She can do all that. Because she's cool like that, right? Boo.
As this little passage of inarticulate ramblings come to a close, I leave you with one thought...
Personal enjoyment should be kept in line if you plan on entertaining readers. You aim to write for the people, whilst enjoying the experience yourself. Not the other way around.
Please. Leave Mary Sue in the messy, misspelt writing within the pages of your private diary.
Such disturbingly unrealistic desires should be kept off the public cyber-waves. The internet is already messed up enough without you, Mary Sue.
Note to Self: Don't let Mary Sue ruin the good representations of other original characters. Many writers can pull off likeable, feasibly realistic characters which should be commended. Don't be prejudiced against the OC's!