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Mary Sueing the MacGuffin


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(edited)
Mary Sue is in my view a really really poor excuse for an phrase/argument. The very term seems to have lost a definitive definition over time. Some are still use it to describe perfect self insertion characters which is what it actually was. Mary Sue was a self insertion character from a Star Trek fan fiction. However now its used for basically everything. If your character gains too much attention and is really well liked he/she is described as a mary sue. If your character looks too weird or unique its a mary sue. If your character is too brooding its a mary sue. If your character is too strong its a mary sue. And on and on and on. I've heard the term used to describe almost everything. At this point it seems the internet has turned it into a blanket phrase to denounce a character. Its a sound bite at this point that seems to be used by people who just want a quick way to say a character sucks but don't want to put effort into conveying why they think that.  I have seen this so often as of late in reference to the show. Twilight is becoming a mary sue or Cadence is a mary sue. How are either of these two perfect self insertion characters? Twilight has plenty of flaws and character traits and only has a coping technique for one of her flaws(her panic) and a coping technique doesn't just eliminate panic forever. Cadence is the married princess of love and embodies that trait. It seems she claims responsibility for the crystal ponies. It has also been shown that she is not perfect in her duties as Twilight has had to save her royal flank twice. Is she a great character? I dont think so, not yet at least. However mary sue is not what I would use to describe her. 
 
 
The word macguffin seems now to almost always be used in a negative context. I have one question. Why? All a macguffin is is a goal which motivates the characters. It can be and usually is an object, but not always. Its all about presentation. MacGuffin doesn't automatically mean bad. It can be bad when mishandled. I have seen this come up when referring to the Elements of Harmony. Are the elements of harmony a macguffin?  Yes, at least in the adventure episodes. Are they poorly presented? I certainly dont think so. Throughout the series we learn of the relationship of them between the ponies. They even have limitations based off that connection. This connection is also I would say presented pretty darn well in dialog in and the visuals at least for the most part.  

So yeah I think these terms are really over used and many cases misused. What you guys think? are there any other terms tossed around you don't like?
Edited by Anadu Kune
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Yes, some characters in all forms of media are "mary sue" characters due to the fact that they are just perfect. But I do believe some characters are mislabeled as "mary sue" characters. And Princess Cadence is a good example of this. It is part of her nature to have some of the traits that others have mislabeled as "mary sue" traits. And I agree with you on the fact that she is not perfect. She has had some actual flaws that set her apart from a "mary sue" character who has no flaws. And this makes all the difference.

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It's a MacGuffin when it serves no purpose in the story beyond being the thing everyone's trying to get. The Elements were a MacGuffin in the premiere, but haven't been since. It's relatively lazy to create a story where everyone's just trying to grab ahold the Shiny of Sparkles without making effort to define it's supposed wonderfulness. Like anything, it comes in degrees, with the Elements not being all that bad in the grand scheme of things.

 

With Mary Sues, I only really plant the label if they are never blamed or required to pay the reasonable consequences for doing things wrong. Mary Sues don't make mistakes, or, when they do, everything turns out okay and no blame is allotted them. (e.g. Celestia misses a Changeling under her nose and picks a losing fight, but nobody ever questions her judgement afterwards.) Secondarily, I feel it's only worth calling out main characters, as they are the ones with the amount of screen time or verbiage that makes Suedom matter. Cadance may well be a Mary Sue and Celestia almost certainly is, but so what? It's not like the show is about them.

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If you ask me, the ones who constantly mislabel characters as Mary Sues seem to be treating the term itself as another synonym for "I don't like/hate this character for reasons I don't want to say." At least it seems that way to me.

 

Just like how some are treating the term "autism/autistic" as a synonym for "retard," when it really doesn't mean that way. =/

 

Gotta hate it when people use words in ways that they're not supposed to, eh?

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Cadence isn't so much a Mary Sue as she is simply poorly developed. All that we actually know about her is that she's a pink princess pony with wings and a horn, so there isn't much personality to analyze.

 

Twilight also isn't a Mary Sue, but she does display some of the more infamous traits (super-magic, odd hair coloring, gets along with every pony, BFFs with the princesses, ascending to godhood, etc). She has enough flaws to avoid the distinction, but they should still tone her down a bit.

 

For comparison, an actual obvious Mary Sue would be Brian Griffin from Family Guy. Let's go over the traits:

- A blatant soapbox for the author's political views.

- Always portrayed as the voice of reason.

- His only actual character flaws come from emo angst.

- Good at everything he does (or at least everything Seth MacFarlene considers himself to be good at).

- "Under-appreciated genius."

- Always gets the girls, despite the age and/or species gap.

 

In the face of a character like this, Twilight and Cadence don't look half bad at all. Two or three MS traits aren't really enough to condemn a character, IMO.

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In my opinion, one of the biggest traits of a Sue is the way that the plot and setting bends backwards for him/her. The plot will warp around them, with nearly everything focusing on that one Sue. Everything has to do with Sue, with the Sue being the center of nearly every plotline and recieving excessive screentime for Sue's cast position. Finally, this kind of character tends to get shoved down your throat; other characters will often compliment Sue constantly with how cool, pretty, etc he/she is.

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(edited)

Cadence isn't so much a Mary Sue as she is simply poorly developed. All that we actually know about her is that she's a pink princess pony with wings and a horn, so there isn't much personality to analyze.

 

Twilight also isn't a Mary Sue, but she does display some of the more infamous traits (super-magic, odd hair coloring, gets along with every pony, BFFs with the princesses, ascending to godhood, etc). She has enough flaws to avoid the distinction, but they should still tone her down a bit.

 

For comparison, an actual obvious Mary Sue would be Brian Griffin from Family Guy. Let's go over the traits:

- A blatant soapbox for the author's political views.

- Always portrayed as the voice of reason.

- His only actual character flaws come from emo angst.

- Good at everything he does (or at least everything Seth MacFarlene considers himself to be good at).

- "Under-appreciated genius."

- Always gets the girls, despite the age and/or species gap.

 

In the face of a character like this, Twilight and Cadence don't look half bad at all. Two or three MS traits aren't really enough to condemn a character, IMO.

As much as I agree with toning Twilight down (I really, really agree with you there), and as much as I dislike modern Family Guy (used to like it), I don't think Brian counts as a Mary Sue (or Gary Stue). While I do find him bordering on the edge, he avoids it because he's shown to be slightly pathetic, not really convicted to his beliefs, and doesn't have the complete respect of his family.

 

Bella is probably the most blatant Mary Sue to ever "grace" popular culture. I don't even have to explain why, because her entire character fits the bill.

Edited by CITRUS KING46
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Personally, I don't even use the term "Mary Sue"; it's nebulous.  If I find a character bothersome, it's due to something specific. It's just better to be clear and specific than use vague, cutesy fan terms. However, the best definition I could figure out for Mary Sue is this:

 

Mary Sue is a reader reaction to characters or events that are perceived to interfere with the willing suspension of disbelief.

 

That's just my best guess, though.  img-1369822-1-UNZJLhS.png

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