A Boy Named Sue

Discussion in 'Fan Town' started by jacktrash, Jun 12, 2019.

  1. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    mary sues. origins of the term, political implications, definitions and connotations. do we need a new term? is gary stu a thing? is it fandom only? is it gendered? what do we call ten thousand male canon sues, and is there fun and profit in bringing them up to dudebros who mislabel female heroes as sues simply because they’re heroes?

    make discussioning! do the talky thing!
     
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  2. Charlie

    Charlie I got no strings to hold me down

    I don't know. I think its a useful term. One of the primary examples I can think of is harem leads in general, or isekai leads - most are absolutely gary stus. It seems the term has fallen out of use.

    I agree that there's misogyny in the current use of mary stu, but at the same time when I was in the roleplaying community as a child I felt the Concept of a character who was boring to play because they were too overstacked was good to keep in mind. Then again, I actually mostly experienced this from older male RPers. That's anecdotal though - I can't use it to prove any trends in particular.
     
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  3. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    what’s isekai?
     
  4. TheSeer

    TheSeer 37 Bright Visionary Crushes The Doubtful

    Basically there's so many anime where some boring nerdbro gets transported to a cliche fantasy world and/or video game that there's a word for it now.
     
  5. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    good to know! i do love the ‘sent to a fantasy world ‘ trope but you need to have a fresh spin on it, you know? like ‘reincarnated as a slime’. that guy is not a sue. he might have all the powers, but he’s a gentle dadly middle manager reincarnated as a sentient mentholyptus cough drop.
     
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  6. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    In fairness, bad modern isekai anime is really only distinguishable from bad 80s portal fantasy novels in that the Gary Stu is Japanese instead of white and statistically more likely to be in high school, the colors are brighter, and the fantasy world is infinitely more likely to have health bars and skill systems.
     
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  7. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    i was very very fond of those novels when i was a teenager. i have a half written one myself. so it’s with a lot of love that i say: even making the entire low tech worls carry the idiot ball doesn’t make it more plausible for the beautiful princess to fall for Dork McNerdfail, he’s just not appealing.
     
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  8. Charlie

    Charlie I got no strings to hold me down

    Yeah, isekai has a lot of potential as a concept, it's just that right now its mostly being used as a 'boring guy becomes a hero to a bunch of fantasy characters because he has modern day values'. Hardcore isekai fans might disagree that .hack/sign is isekai* - but I'm fond of .hack/sign for the kind of exploration it does around 'another world' concepts.

    The most popular one right now involves a guy buying a slave who loves him because he's not a dick I guess? I know that's a loose summary, but it's also basically true. It's just that isekai suffers from having a lot of bad harem traits right now and very lifeless protags.

    *Some people think isekai only counts if you are brought to a Real Alternate World, not a Video Game world. Personally, I disagree with that distinction, especially with the popularity of SAO being a contributor to trends, but I guess its worth noting.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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  9. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    Incidentally, re: actual fanfic, the classic sort of "uber-powerful self-insert OC" Stufic is ridiculously common if you know where to look. If anything, it seems to be more common in its associated spaces these days than distaff Mary Sue Classic is in less cis-dude-skewing fic spaces, probably because Mary Sue Classic has been so heavily attacked and mocked. But go into a fandom like, say, My Little Pony and you'll find heaps of fic where a Super Cool Dude With Awesome Powers comes in and is better than the Mane Six at everything. It's just more likely to be posted on sites other than AO3.

    And that's not touching, say, harem fic (go into any big fandom with a bunch of female characters and you will find it) or stuff like "Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality", which is not just Stufic but evangelist Stufic.

    I guess what it comes down to to me is, again,
    1. it's not great writing when anyone does it, but
    2. fanfic is a fundamentally self-indulgent endeavor and isn't required to adhere to any quality standards but "makes the author happy," but
    3. this particular flaw is met with overwhelmingly more stigma and disdain when committed by anyone who is not a cis dude.
     
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  10. Ana Nimus

    Ana Nimus Well-Known Member

    It'd be useful to have a term to describe "the world bends around this character in a way that's not entertaining for the reader/viewer" but I think Mary/Gary Stu has too much gendered baggage to be that anymore.

    also basing it in what's "realistic" doesn't work because realism isn't the point of a lot of stories. im thinking of those old Mary Sue litmus tests that failed you the minute you were writing anything with magic. maybe my character has infinite magical power in a mundane world, maybe that's the point! the limit isn't what's "unrealistic", its what the writer has the skill to pull off. getting rid of the "unrealistic" elements won't make the writing better.

    (i have apparently been salty about those Mary Sue litmus tests for 15 years)
     
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  11. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    Per my extensive rant in the other thread, I think the entire concept behind the litmus test is completely misguided, because the actual problem is "the narrative expects the audience to have a level of investment in this character that the audience is not prepared to extend based on the groundwork laid." I've seen fic where the author was clearly incredibly concerned about writing a Sue, and was obviously looking at lots of advice saying what not to do, and wrote... a Sue who was also incredibly boring. At least if I'm reading about Diabola Granger-Black, a reincarnated goddess with the power to revive the dead, control the oceans, and curse her enemies with debilitating allergies who is the subject of an ancient prophecy declaring that she will become Wizard Princess and marry the Heir of Malfoy after defeating all evil, it's obvious why the story is about her.

    It's been darkly hilarious to watch the Universal Mary Sue Litmus Test steadily expand its definitions into complete uselessness over the years since I first saw it in, like, middle school. Things like "Is her name 'Raven' or 'Hunter'?" have gradually turned into things like "Is their name a noun?" because fads come and go and the test can only ever look at the surface.
     
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2019
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  12. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    i think it might be possible to write a sue test that works, but it would have to ask stuff like “is this character ever morally or factually in the wrong?” and “do other characters ever have a conversation that doesn’t mention this character?”

    like a bechdel test, but for story warpage instead of gender.
     
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  13. palindromordnilap

    palindromordnilap Well-Known Member

    Well, the second one might be a bit inconvenient for first-person protagonists. :p
     
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  14. Verily

    Verily a very ineffective hitman

    I like this one because I’ve been kind of quietly thinking of The Disastrous Life of Saiki K. and seeing what happens. The whole premise of the show involves a main character who would be ridiculously overpowered in most shows about superpowered people, except it’s a slice of life comedy. He is trying very hard to keep it that way while still being a disaffected teenager. It’s pretty funny. It also breaks most Sue tests immediately.

    Not this one. This one works, even with a character whose entire problem in life is that the world bends around him in a way that’s totally abnormal for his setting.
     
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  15. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    Now I'm remembering "I'm the protagonist of a harem manga but I'm gay so every day is hell for me."
    tsundere.png
     
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  16. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    is that a stand alone or is there a manga you could link me?
     
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  17. LadyNighteyes

    LadyNighteyes Wicked Witch of the Radiant Historia Fandom

    One chapter and I don't know if it has any official release outside of the internet, but it's here.
     
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  18. jacktrash

    jacktrash absentee sperglord

    that’s hilarious, thanks!
     
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