and have a raging “nice guy” syndrome (just posted a video about how MEN AND WOMEN CANNOT BE FRIENDS (BECAUSE THEN THE NICE GUYS DONT GET WHAT THEY WANT AND HAVE TO PUT THEIR DICK SECOND)) and post pseudo-social justice bullshit whining about The System and The Government without having any actual understanding and it makes me mad and ready to PUNCH THINGS
But that stuff, reddit, and tumblr are my three sources of internet entertainment! “Fight the system, man” facebook statuses are some of the funniest things out there, especially when others agree. It’s even funnier in retrospect when you realize that it’s the product of general societal and intellection progression, not regression.
Looks like this essay was needed, so I went ahead and did it. Not sure I said everything I wanted to say, but I tried.
So, there’s this girl. She’s tragically orphaned and richer than anyone on the planet. Every guy she meets falls in love with…
Reblogging to properly read later, but this looks really promising already.
The Batman description’s a little off, though. It’s not that he rejects romantic advances and ignores the people around him in order to remain on his “Pure and Good” path. He is so clinically obsessed with what he believes he should do that he is just s**t-terrible at maintaining any kind of substantive relationship with anyone besides his childhood mentor/butler. It’s not a conscious choice to reject the dreamy-eyed suitors, it’s a simple inability to not reject them through sheer incompetence.
I wouldn’t call Batman exactly angsty either, more abso-frackin-lutely insane. Have y’all ever read The Arkham Asylum issue w/ Dave McKean, or The Killing Joke issue? Batman’s completely out of his mind!
I guess for me there’s also a difference between Mary Sue and power fantasy. For me, at least, it seems like a power fantasy is more about what a character does. Those having the power fantasy want to be able to do what the one-dimensional badass does. Those reading/writing a Mary Sue/Gary Stu want to be the character exactly. No one wants to be Batman (well, not anyone sane), but everyone wants to be able to do what he does.
In basic generalization:
Tween Twi-hards want to be Bella in Twilight. Tween super-gamers want to be able to chainsaw aliens in half like the meatheads in Gears of War.
There are Gary Stus (or nearly in this case) of course: Kamine in Gurren Lagann begins as that, but then this is inverted when not only the viewer turns him into a power fantasy, but so do the characters in the show. That’s an example of a Gary Stu written well.
When it’s written poorly, however, you get things like Master Chief: stoic, charging in guns ‘ablazing, never failing (in the continuity of the game, of course), etc.
It can even be more subtle than that, and even genderless. The Stranger (ie the player) in the Myst games is a near-Messianic figure gallivanting about solving all of the problems with skill and grace unmatched by thousands-year-old geniuses like Atrus or Yeesha. But that’s never a problem.
Here, the well written examples are highlighting the confusion between power fantasy, author insert, and Mary Sues. The latter should be strictly applied to bad writing. It is an author insert power fantasy taken to unhealthy degrees. It is when the entire purpose of the writing is not a narrative, not a fantasy, not even escapism, but plain and simple delusion.
That being said, people seem to cry “Mary Sue/Gary Stu” a little too easily. I’d like to reserve that for things like the horrid/wonderful “My Immortal” fanfic and its ilk.
And lastly, I guess, who are these people defending the garbage male Gary Stus? Where are the people that you mentioned holding up over-muscled, playboy, genius, one-dimensional wank-fests of the garbage superheroes as shining examples of good writing?
I admit that certain incarnations of popular male power fantasies are poorly written and should be shunned, but given that, there is so much material on these mainstream meatheads, that it can’t be helped that there is some bad writing and then some phenomenal writing. Some Wolverines are absolute garbage, but that doesn’t invalidate the well-written ones. Since there are so many different writers in the superhero business, you could argue that almost all of superhero fiction (aside from the original release) is just licensed fanfic.
I would say that some Batmen, especially the middle, kind of campy incarnations, are stupid, terrible, awfully written characters, but I can say that I prefer the Grant Morrison Batman, and he is no Gary Stu. Accepting all material on him as canon would be crazy and make for a dull, disconnected narrative.
Again, it comes back to the people. Yes, some people are sexist, some people are bigoted, but that doesn’t invalidate the terms they use, only their use of them. Your example of TVTropes is people spasmodically bashing the characters whom they dislike. If one person think character x is a Mary Sue, and then another thinks that of character y, both are going to be posted on TVTropes, so it looks as though both people think that both are Mary Sues. That’s the issue with aggregation. For every single character, there’s at least one person out there who thinks s/he’s a Mary Sue/Gary Stu.