Boys, and Others, Named Sue

I did some research, while I was writing that thing about Star Wars Mary Sues (apparently I was wrong, the one in Rogue One is not a Mary Sue, the marketers just did their usual thing of showing you the most obnoxious scenes from the movie...some of which weren't actually in the final cut of the movie). Seems a bunch of people really don't like other people pointing out the simple, objective, Phil-Dick-had-issues-with-women-and-ontology fact, that Rey in Force Awakens is a Mary Sue. Well, she's better at more things than Alucard in Hellsing, with less work. And Alucard is such a horrendous Mary Sue that even if the show he's in was not bestially stupid and both aesthetically and morally disgusting, it would be unwatchable just because of how insufferable a Sue he is.

Also, interviewing Daisy Ridley about whether her character is a Mary Sue makes only slightly more sense than interviewing Pal about whether his character in Lassie Come Home is unrealistically intelligent. Do people really not understand that writers, not actors, create characters? (Granting for the moment that Miss "Mouth and Eyes Wide Open Is an Emotion, Right?" is an actor; she makes Keanu Reeves look like Sir Anthony Hopkins but I suppose she still counts as an actor...like Uwe Boll is a filmmaker.) And remember, Ridley is from a country where women with personal experience of domestic violence by men, nevertheless immediately denounce the sexism of the idea men are stronger than women. Duckspeak by an inhabitant of Airstrip One is the opposite of an argument.

Again: if you think nobody ever calls a male character a Mary Sue, you are as much as admitting that you don't actually read much analysis of fiction. Because again, Alucard and Edward Cullen, and Kirito in Sword Art Online, and Eragon, and even Batman (which is the only one that's really disputable) have been called Mary Sues (or some stupid, unnecessary male equivalent—they're called "Mary Sue" because that was the name of the character in the satirical short story "A Trekkie's Tale", a parody of fanfic self-insert characters that is the origin of the term in the first place).

It's probably shorter to list the light-novel protagonists who don't get called Mary Sues, and most of them deserve it, too. It's arguably not true that Adlet Mayer, for instance, is a Sue, but you can be forgiven for thinking different; the only LN protagonists I can think of who can't at least plausibly be considered Sues are Aikawa Ayumu and Yoshii Akihisa, and that's mostly because "even the people who like them treat them like they hate them" is roughly half of what happens in both their series. You don't believe we denounce male characters as Sues because you don't pay attention when we're not talking about your personal hobbyhorses; this necessarily makes your conception of what we do or don't talk about more than a little skewed.


Gaily in the Dark

"The men of the East may spell the stars,
And times and triumphs mark,
But the men signed of the cross of Christ
Go gaily in the dark.


"The wise men know what wicked things
Are written on the sky,
They trim sad lamps, they touch sad strings,
Hearing the heavy purple wings,
Where the forgotten seraph kings
Still plot how God shall die.


"But you and all the kind of Christ
Are ignorant and brave,
And you have wars you hardly win
And souls you hardly save.
Random thoughts, thought I'd give it a new name. It occurs to me that these last three are progressively becoming less focused: fantasy RPGs to fantasy and SF to random thoughts. Also, this is post #575, which is 52×23.
  • Decided no, my elves are going to be bigger than humans: specifically as much bigger as they are in Pathfinder, 6'1" on average for males and 5'11" for females—which incidentally gives the same mass-ratio as in the common raven. I realized that one of those guys riding a 55-inch Homotherium is no different from a 5'6" Mongol riding a 12.2 hand Mongol horse, and they do that.

    Went with vampire bats, specifically hairy-legged vampire bats, for the model of the dark elves, since the males of those are smaller than the female. Interesting ideas came about from associating the two; in hairy-legged vampire "society" the females take care of each other while adult males are kinda on their own. So what if dark elves are matriarchal with males being treated as permanent outsiders, kinda like a reverse Confucianism? (A wife is a stranger taken into a clan, in traditional Confucian cultures and even more in Neo-Confucian ones; that fact has consequences in ancestor worship—some of them directly causing the "gendercide" problem in China and South Korea, only one of which has a One Child Policy—and in some aspects of the kinship-system.)

    Decided that most of the special animals native to the elf home-world (one of the moons) have peculiar coloring: elves have blue or green hair and yellow or orange eyes, while their crows have pale blue feathers when immature and then turn dark red, and have purplish black eyes. Their foxes have blue fur and orange eyes, while their riding-cats are yellow-green with dark green markings, patterned like a serval's, and have pale yellow eyes.
  • There was a preview for the Trolls movie, when I went to see Moana. This particular ad had an interview with Justin Timberlake, in which he used the phrase "an embarrassment of riches". Which...a recent Penny Arcade reminded me of.

    Another preview there, was for the actually animated, not mostly-live-action, Smurfs movie. I kinda think we should all go see it just to reward them for realizing that a live-action Smurfs movie was a sin against God.
  • And the subject of cosmically ill-advised adaptations reminds me that there is a sentence that sums up the Peter Jackson Hobbit, e.g. its introducing of a "romance" between one of the Firstborn and one of the Adopted. Namely:
    ...As the theme progressed, it came into the heart of Melkor to interweave matters of his own imagining that were not in accord with the theme of Ilúvatar.
    Or in other words, it's not so much an adaptation as it is a, well, marring.
  • Incidentally Moana strongly suggests to me that they should do either Journey to the West or (at least part of) the Kalevala next. Väinämöinen, Ilmarinen, Lemminkäinen—someone needs to make a movie about those guys, other than "Jack Frost" as was done on MST3K. And with their Maui they've demonstrated they can do justice to the Great Sage Equal to Heaven.

    The only issue is Disney might not be willing to do either story, both being very male-centered; if their Star Wars output so far is any indication, all Disney pictures from now on must, apparently, be all Girl Power™ all the time, and that all too often of the highest Mary Sue concentrations (even Moana, though its eponymous protagonist is not a Sue, relegates a figure on par with Nanabozho, or Coyote and Raven at their most mythically significant, to sidekick status).

    You can't really introduce a female character to Journey to the West without doing violence to the plot; you might be able to pull it off in the Kalevala, but it'd still take some doing.
  • And yes, both much-vaunted Star Wars heroines are Mary Sues; Rey ticks about every box on any "litmus test" you care to name other than the sexual ones precluded by their PG rating. And the protagonist of Who the Hell Is Kyle Katarn? Rogue One looks to be another, what with her shockingly pat dialogue and clichéed "maverick pilot" persona, like the second coming of reboot-Starbuck.

    Now, before anyone embarrasses themselves, these characters are not being called Mary Sues just because they're female. There are lots of male Mary Sues, like Alucard and Edward Cullen (a lot of Sues of both sexes are vampires), or Kirito in Sword Art Online. Actually it might be truer to say that the Star Wars Sues are female because they're Sues, rather than the other way around.

    A case could be made that the blatant power-fantasy/"inexplicably impressing the canon characters" wish-fulfillment that the characters represent, for the AscendedFanboys who are RunningTheAsylum, would've been noticed, had they resembled their (uniformly male) creators in the obvious category of gender; but as women, well, their OCs (do not steal!) are just empowering women and giving girls a Strong Female Character™ role-model, you guys, really, geez, why do you hate women so much?
  • That male writers give themselves a pass for writing female Mary Sues, when they'd notice what a bad job they were doing if the character was male, is a possible explanation for Korra, as well. Her borderline-psychopathic selfishness, for which she is not once seriously challenged (in an "unambiguously shown as in the wrong" way) is a definite Sue trait, as is her not having to travel the world seeking teachers in order to master the elements, but being 75% of the equal of any of her predecessors by the time she's, like, six.

    Then again Legend of Korra is, as Jonah Goldberg said of Obamacare, "like a Claymation version of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen staged entirely with characters sculpted out of fecal matter: the mother of all shit shows." It's entirely possible those hacks, who make Jar-Jar Abrams look like J. Michael Straczynski, might've just straight-up made a Feminist!Sue, while they were driving through the previous Avatar's setting like a drunken gardener at a petting-zoo whose riding-mower has no rearview mirror. ("You mean a spectacle almost as revolting as that labored analogy?"—Jonah Goldberg's couch.)
  • Was debating the philosophy of writing fight-scenes with people that either don't know anything about fighting, don't know how to question the tropes they've been handed by other writers, or both. One thing I was having a hard time explaining to them (mostly because it's hard to do without being rude) is that you shouldn't describe it as "X threw a punch". You should describe it as "X punched [at]...something". (The "at" mainly for when something else interferes with actually punching the first something.)

    A punch, a kick, et cetera, is not an intransitive act: it has an object. You're trying to hit something. I think it's related to stage-fighting, the well-recognized problem where stage-fighters will attack the weapon, not the person. (The way it's supposed to work, you wind up with your weapon blocked because when you try to attack them, they put their weapon in the way. The way it works out too often, in practice, in stage-fighting and choreographed fights, is that you wind up with your weapon blocked because you swung toward the weapon they were going to block with to begin with.)

    Likewise, characters with guns should not "squeeze off rounds" and should only seldom "return fire", and then only to drive the enemy back to cover. When a character is doing suppressive fire, say so. When they are shooting at something specific, say so. Shooting from the hip is a bad idea; unless your objective is simply to shoot in the enemy's general direction to keep him from coming out, you should be shooting at something. Hell, maybe mention that your character is actually using the sights on their gun!
  • This Cracked article about dinosaur movies' weird tropes, missed one. Namely, "Triceratops is no danger". You see that in Jurassic Park, for instance. Now, aside from how "herbivore" != "safe"—bulls are herbivores, hippos are herbivores—is the fact ceratopsians may not be herbivores. There are some indications they were omnivores—basically Mesozoic pigs.

    And you know how dangerous pigs are, right? (Besides, again, it really doesn't matter—aside from how just because it doesn't want to eat you doesn't mean it doesn't want to kill you, apparently sometimes horses acquire a taste for human flesh.)

    On the other hand, that Cracked article is dead right about one thing: dinosaurs do hate cars. Anyone who's ever parked under a fruit-tree can tell you that.
  • A thought occurred to me: if you're going to have the six-limbed, four-legs-and-two-wings dragons, and their flight be even significantly powered by actual wing-flapping, their anatomy changes markedly. Namely, they would basically have the equivalent of a bird's "keelbone" on their back—probably modified vertebral processes as the keelbone is a modified sternum—and the motion of flapping their wings would work somewhat differently (because the downstroke is the opposite motion for the bones).

    This would give dragons a pronounced humpbacked silhouette, like an upside-down pigeon breast; however, that can probably play out in as many ways as the avian chest does. One idea I had is that if dragons went away (only to return in a quasi-apocalypse), as dragons are wont to do in works from Skyrim to Dragonlance, their bones might be reconstructed as having huge spines on the back, when those are actually the attachment-points for the flapping-muscles.

    I'm partial to dragons that are less reptilian; a lot of anime and manga, for example, have dragons whose heads seem to take more inspiration from sharks. Another thing I thought of is a fully functioning third eye, which was, as I mentioned, a feature of some Sarcopterygii and some of both the jawed and jawless armored fish.