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2013-09-28: Strike 2
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Darqcyde



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 5:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Samsally wrote:
Pretty sure language evolves though, and a term that is misused to the point where nobody really knows the original meaning can safely be assumed to have evolved.

It's a shitty term and I hate what it represents. Even if you made it completely gender neutral, mostly all people use it for is being dicks to unskilled fanfic writers. I don't really see how it was all that useful in its original form.

An editor could look at a proposed work and say "That character is a Mary Sue, flesh them out"

Metonymy is often used as metaphor, but that doesn't mean it's used correctly or accurately.

The word woman can easily, and often is, used pejoratively, does this mean you should hate the term woman?

Also, do you realize that Mary Sue, the character, was satire from her inception? She was written to be break every rule about what good writing is supposed to be.

And its originally meaning is brought up and readily found again and again.

Should we stop using the word irony because so many millions of misuses and abuses of the word?

No.

Stop being blinded by hate and rage. I'm not saying you have no right to feel hate and rage, I'm suggesting you aim it at the people misusing the term and thereby using it to degrade women.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To put it another way: If the term is used properly, there should be little to no debate as to whether a character is a 'Mary Sue' or not; it takes a special kind of awful for the term to be used accurately, which a lot of people aren't doing. Calling a character a 'Mary Sue' should be saved for characters so bad they make you say to yourself "I was a fan of their writing, but that one character . . . yeah, I think they may have jumped the shark with that one. I don't think I'll be reading future works by them."
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Rune



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An editor could do that, but then they'd be a pretty shitty/lazy editor. A good editor should be able to give better and more detailed notes than that.

"She is a disruptive force in this relationship here. Address that as part of the story, or get rid of it."

"This character is acting out of character towards her. Come up with an actual reason why, or get rid of it."

"You're shoehorning the plot here just to make her look good. Work that over, and see if you can make it more character-driven."

And, because Mary Sue was gendered and pejorative from its inception, it's more than fair to look at that aspect of the term's meaning, and subsequent usage. Also, because it's such a new term, and one that got solidly coined in the process of its spread and evolution, it's kind of silly to hold to "original meaning." It's still in its "original meaning" stage. A metonym is what people use it for, and understand it as. Otherwise, it's just its original denotation, in this case a specific character who originally bore it as her actual-nym, or a piece of individual poetry.

And what people use it for and understand it as was unpacked pretty thoroughly in that article.

While "Mary Sue" could mean something else that made up a relatively small part of its rapid evolution and rampant spread, you can't really say that's it's One True Meaning.

Here's a suggestion. Try calling a black woman "Sapphire" sometime, and see if any subsequent hurt and rage directed at you is warranted, whether or not you meant it as a pejorative. After all, Sapphire is a very pretty name. So, go ahead. Try it out. Return and report.
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Darqcyde



Joined: 11 Jul 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good editor let's the writer find the mistakes themselves as well as coming up with solutions; shitty editors playing at wanna-be writer and make exact suggestions. If they can give you half an hour that's an eternity, you'll be lucky to get 15 minutes. You shouldn't expect more than "Fix this. Change this. This character is a Mary Sue." otherwise they're writing your piece for you.

You also miss an important point, but I knew someone was going to bring it up:

Mary Sue needed to be a woman in order to address and mock Kirk's treatment and attitude toward women and Mary Sue's seemingly magical ability to instantaneously change that. The whole first part of the story wouldn't exist otherwise. She also needed to be a woman to mock the other conventions of that time, namely men being in the important roles. When writing for established canon in an attempt to incorporate your work into that canon, you don't go against the grain, it shows unprofessionalism and a poor grasp of the source material. All complaints should be leveled at the original series, not the canon breaking satire.

Quote:
And, because Mary Sue was gendered and pejorative from its inception


No, it wasn't. It was meant as satire, not defamation. The character was literately created, at the request of the editor to the writer, for the purpose of "here's how to NOT write fan-fiction" because he was being inundated with stories featuring "Mary Sues"; she works as a text book example because that what she was created to be, an example of what not to do.

Also, I don't know the meaning of the term Sapphire in that context, so guess what? I don't use it.

And that's my point exactly. A lot of people were, and still are, using the term "Mary Sue" without knowing it's meaning and origin.

The closest comparison to Mary Sue I can think of off the top of my head (and I suck at examples) is Benedict Arnold. It used to have punch, it used to have significant meaning. It was reserved for betrayals of the greatest caliber. Now you would be lucky if people knew who Benedict Arnold was or what he did. Anywho, I'll talk more on this tomorrow, it's late, and coherent thinking is getting to be difficult.
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Rune



Joined: 08 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's not a matter of time, it's a matter of the editor having a strong grasp of what are useful notes and what aren't.

The use of the metonym was absolutely gendered and pejorative from the start. You really don't have to keep hammering on the actual literally-named Mary Sue character. I get that it's satire. I do. But that makes it a lampshaded pejorative, not a non-pejorative, or a subverted pejorative. The term has never, ever been used to indicate a presentation of comprehensive composite satire of bad writing, otherwise we'd be using it to describe other instances of lampshaded ridiculous character tropes, like those talked about in On Thud and Blunder and the like.

We don't. We use it to talk about the non-satirical examples that the original Mary Sue lampshaded, and then some. It has never, ever been used to talk about the lampshade. Only the things the original Mary Sue put a lampshade on.

And even at its most charitable, it's not exactly -more- useful than a dozen other possible framings. And it's certainly not something I feel a pressing need to defend and preserve as a part of language against and in spite of all the baggage.

There are already plenty of good non-gendered-pejorative terms that encompass all of the things that "Mary Sue" can, does, or supposedly represents, and that say it better depending on what's actually going on with the character. They just require more detailed thought and unpacking beyond "somehow overly idealized female focus character," which is a good thing to require.

(Also, your Benedict Arnold point actually supports my side of the argument. It has lost something as a metonym, it doesn't carry quite the same punch and significance now as it once did. Its usage has changed, if slightly. Another 100 years from now, who knows? It might just end up meaning someone who likes their eggs a certain way, and kicking a fit about how people in a diner are using it would just get you funny looks.)

Etymology is valuable, especially for understanding different connotations and usages over time, (not to mention it paints a fascinating picture of the sociological evolution of thought,) but a word's meaning is how it's used in whatever language, dialect, or region is using it. And "Mary Sue" exists in rather a severely limited linguistic sphere, the whole of which defines it.
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Samsally



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 3:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, I'm just posting for forms sake now. Rune has this covered, pretty sure I can't add anything she hasn't already said.
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Darqcyde



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think you're missing large and significant part of what makes a Mary Sue a Mary Sue.

It's not solely about writing a bad character, it's about introducing a canon breakingly bad character into an established story, one so bad they suck everyone else into their vortex of awfulness.

The pejorative you're perceiving doesn't exist. She is inserted into a very sexist world and *poof* magically alters everything with little or no explanation. Mary Sue's aren't there from the start, they're always introduced into an established story.

Show me a better example than that and I'll use it.
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ShadowCell



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

oh boy another thread where Darq thinks he has the right to decide what words mean to other people
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Samsally



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It doesn't really matter how -you as an individual- perceive the term should be used. It's currently being used in a way that is super sexist and shitty. This conversation started with the term being used in a way that was sexist and shitty. Defending the term like it's supposed to be something else, when it's obvious that it is not being used that way any longer (and not just in this instance but as a collective trend across the intertubes), seems really counter productive in the long run.

Plus I just don't see how it was all that useful to begin with. In my experience it was just an easy way to insult other people's writing. There are loads better ways to provide helpful constructive criticism.
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Istancow



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am now thoroughly confused.

Is the point that the original usage is sexist, that common usage is sexist, or they're both sexist? Or is the argument over which definition stands as default?
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Heretical Rants



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The entire conversation here is really ... uh..

I had a word for it, but I forgot it

ah well
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

okay, it contains the best description of the "Mary Sue" ever
r
Samsally wrote:
Even if you made it completely gender neutral, mostly all people use it for is being dicks to unskilled fanfic writers.




but otherwise


eehhhhhhhhhhhh
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Istancow



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 7:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would like to take this moment to apologize to anyone actually named Mary Sue.
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Rune



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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Istancow wrote:
I am now thoroughly confused.

Is the point that the original usage is sexist, that common usage is sexist, or they're both sexist? Or is the argument over which definition stands as default?


Yes.

The original usage was sexist because it was a gendered criticism coined thanks to a deliberate satire/lampshade mocking the trend it criticizes. It has always, always, always been derogatory. Saying that the original Sue was satire exonerates the skill and intentions of the writer from the application of the derogatory term, but it does not change the way the term has been used for its entire lifetime as a term.

The current usage is even more sexist because the sexist implications have been exaggerated and inflated in the cauldron of seething antipathy that is the internet. But that is only an inflation and exaggeration of something that already existed in the concept since its adoption.

There are plenty of terms for new characters, or newly focused-on characters, that suck the rest of the story into their own black hole. (And if you want to stick very specifically to the trend of the Self Insert Fic that the original Sue parodied, you can just SAY Self Insert Fic. Taking it out of the realm of fan-fic and applying it to any case where a new character is introduced into an established canon is *gasp!* actually a deviation from that primeval origin you are lauding.

You want better terms? How about The Scrappy for a new character whose increasing focus and unlikability are sinking the enjoyment of the narrative? It's another derogatory metonym, but the gendered implications aren't there.

How about just saying there's too much Character Focus on an Author Avatar or Creator's Pet?

Or that the author is engaged in far too much Character Shilling?

Maybe the disliked character's problem is that they're a Replacement Scrappy that has taken over the role of a previously beloved established character, but can't fill their shoes, or a case of Spotlight Stealing that overshadows the main characters too much.

Or the character is the focus of an overbearing Token Romance or three that have nothing to do with the plot and tone of the established story.

Or maybe they're The Load, which forces everyone else's efforts to revolve around them, but the nature of the burden is never acknowledged.

Or it's a matter of the author focusing too much on Wish Fulfilment at the expense of character, plot, and setting.

Or a dozen more things. Go spend some time on TV Tropes (if all my links don't have you stuck there already.)

ALL of the above terms convey more information and understanding of character and story development than "Mary Sue," and without all the baggage. "Mary Sue" is a throwaway term, not a constructive one.

Whether it's the old or the new version that's correct or sexist or whatever, it doesn't matter. Any way you slice it, it's not exactly a useful term worth defending.
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PostPosted: Sun Sep 29, 2013 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might be leaning towards siding with Darq on this if I could get myself to care even one iota either way about the terminology used to describe or insult poorly-realized/shallow/unjustifiably-in-the-spotligh/author-proxy//whatever characters. Maybe. I dunno. That's a pretty big "if."

yes, okay, language informs thought, words are important
and there are often better terms for what people use this one to describe
and Gary Stu says "hi."


sexist fandoms might label female characters as Mary Sues more often, sure
and that is bad
but it says more about the people who are abusing the term like that than anything

of course, since the term itself is mostly just used as a put-down (and has come to describe too wide a variety of things various people think are undesireable to be of any use), I feel no great need to defend it
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