Tuesday, 29 December 2015

That Mary-Sue Star Wars Debate

Look, I’m just gonna go ahead and say I’m not even a fan. I haven’t seen any of the Star Wars films before this one…well, except for the first one with the alien that everyone hates, but I don’t even remember it. Worse, I watched the latest Star Wars movie after a night out and I’d hardly slept.

So I go to the cinema and I watch this movie on and off, falling asleep at least twice somewhere in the middle…or the end, but I see enough of it. I looked out for some of the characters I knew like Blink 182 – I mean R2D2 and the gold camp robot. I see Han and Chu and give the screen a nod and a smile, but yeah, I wasn’t really that interested and was reminded why I’m just not that into the Star Wars franchise. The credits roll and I get outside and my partner asks what I thought of the movie and who I liked. I say liked Finn and all the funny parts with Chu and Han and that I liked Kylo’s voice but then I say I didn’t like the female lead.

At this point I couldn’t even remember her name, but I know I called her a Mary-Sue. Man, I was so certain about it and all the while I was wondering how anyone could find such a character entertaining. I was so sure of my feelings that when I got home I typed in Star Wars and Mary-Sue. Eventually, I discover the main character’s name was Rey…but no posts come up and I was sitting there thinking “am I the only one that feels this way?”

My partner on the other hand watched a review on the movie and the review stated that A Force Awakens follows A New Hope too closely, almost like a cut and paste, and I’m just thinking to myself “if the other SW movies are anything like this one, I’ll keep my stance as a non-fan, thanks.”

NOW, two weeks later, I’m on my netbook and I see something about Rey being a Mary-Sue. Finally, someone shares my opinion. So I do a search and find out the whole debate has started to blow up on the internet. I read about two or three posts and wow, just wow. Apparently we can’t call Rey a Mary-Sue unless we call Luke a Marty-Stu and if that’s the case then we have to accept that most white male guys in movies are Marty-Stus and that we’re only analysing Rey like this because she’s female and some other stuff about anyone who disagrees being sexist… And I’m really surprised because – and maybe it’s just me – but anyone who wasn’t aware of the Mary/Marty-Sues in Hollywood BEFORE Rey is either ignorant or Amish. Anyone who hasn't heard the complaints of perfect white male heroes just ain't been listening. 

I’m not going to give a standing ovation to leads I don’t like just because they’re female and that it’s a good start. No, I’ll just agree it’s a start. I refuse to be called sexist, too. Maybe others need reminding that Marty-Stus have been around long before Rey, but I don’t. I’ve been bored for decades now, so bored that I kind of just expect it. What I don’t like is when people shout statements down without a half decent replacement.

Films, books and games have lacked diversity for aaaaaaaages. I used to read a lot when I was younger, and the saying goes that you must read if you want to write, but I feel like I’ve been reading the same rehashed stuff for a long time now. In fact, I’ve been on the hunt for a really awesome fantasy/sci-fi with a good brown female lead, and the search continues. The sad thing is, people offer suggestions and they’re usually the same ones. I have a small pool to pick from where sometimes I just don’t like the plot, character or writing style. Outside of that, though, my options are wide and I’ll sooner find a book with a slug-human hybrid that I will a good brown female.

But back to my point...

Rey, to me, is a Mary-Sue and I don’t need to be reminded of how many Marty-Stus they were before her to justify that, thanks. Maybe others need reminding but trust me, I really, really don’t. But if Rey is what the beginning of Main Character diversity looks like, then yeah, I’m all for it, but I’m not going to stop calling it what it is and I don’t think people should be told to shush when they do because that’s the reason we don’t improve and quite frankly I’m not interested in watching the famous white Marty-Stu get a gender swap for another decade. It’s a start, okay, but it’s still a kinda crappy one.

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