Rey is a Mary Sue

By the end of the second movie in this new trilogy, we should all be forced to accept that, “Yes, Rey No-last-name-given is a Mary Sue.”

Mary Sue is an idealized and seemingly perfect fictional character. Often, this character is recognized as an author insert or wish fulfillment. They can usually perform better at tasks than should be possible given the amount of training or experience.

What seems startlingly clear isn’t the abject truth of this statement, that she is a character that has no means to her great power which are made clear to the reader, that she is capable of things she should absolutely not be able to do according to the canon, and that she is unnaturally loved by all, but that acknowledging that she was written as a rather flat trope is sexist.

Sorry, but we have Gary Stus too.

Here’s another.

And another.

You can call each of these characters out for being perfect and always winning when they shouldn’t have a chance. They can also be beloved by their fans. But there is also a reason that people who love them most are young people who haven’t grown to expect characters with more depth and vulnerability. There is a reason that the only people still watching Dragon Ball in their 30’s are people who loved him when they were 13.

The same is true of Star Wars. People have grown up, but the writing is treating Rey like the audience is nothing but 12 year old kids who don’t expect more. They think we will cheer for her because she’s perfect and always beats the bad guy, rather than expect more than what we’re getting. It isn’t sexist to say that a character was written who has no weakness, no vulnerability, unstoppable strength, no need for training, better at everything than everyone (such as both repairing and flying the Millennium Falcon), is way prettier than she should be after years of life in the Jakku sun, and who is remarkably likable in spite of growing up with no social skills, is a rather annoying trope of a character. Look, I get it, people want the strong heroine, but the rules of writing are clear, if you don’t give people a believable story, then you stretch the suspension of reality too far, it snaps and people call it for what it is. It’s a Mary Sue.

And yes, the movie Superman had elements of this too, but at least he had weaknesses. He was actually killed for goodness sake, and there was at least some reasonable basis for his powers — because aliens and the Sun. But if you want cosmic level Gary Stu, look to the comics. It’s a thing.

Rey is the quintessential Mary Sue of the Star Wars universe. Anakin had a backstory that explained why he was so strong, even if people hated the midi-chlorian business. He still had to spend years in training to be competent as a Jedi and he still screwed up everything he touched. Luke? We have seen where he was such a competent pilot (womp rats, anyone?) and he was forced to endure a whole movie of seeking out training. What happens in that one? He bails before he is ready and gets his butt kicked. It is only years later that he is competent enough to be good with the lightsaber… in the third movie.

That Rey could manipulate the force in all its ways before she had even met a Jedi, so much so that she literally beat a master of the force the first time she held a lightsaber? And with no consequences, even. No ugly scar. No amputations. Her hair doesn’t even get messed up.

Come on people. It doesn’t make you a bad person to call out bad writing. You’re not sexist if you expect female characters to be believable. In the Star Wars universe, that means that even force sensitive people don’t know how to swing the lightsaber. It means that force sensitive people still have to be trained to fly the Millennium Falcon. It means that force sensitive people still have to be trained to do all the forcey things, and it means that you will suffer some debilitating injury to learn from your stupidity at some point. This actually happened to Kylo Ren, and dammit all if he wasn’t more likable for the experience. But why is that we can’t expect the same dramatic elements for our female characters without being called sexist?

I don’t get why people are having such a hard time with this. Deadpool did it perfectly when they called the moment of confusion we are feeling surrounding female characters in fiction, where we are trying to make them special, but still want to treat them with kid gloves that says they can do no wrong.

Simply, it isn’t sexist to say that a character is flat, even if the overall experience of seeing the movie was enjoyable. I liked the movie. I even like Daisy Ridley. I think she is playing the character written for her well. But there was a lot of annoyingness in it. It was really predictable. Huge parts of it were fluff. And there was that whole scene that made absolutely no sense with Leia in space. You know what I’m talking about. That got dangerously close to Mary Sue too. And frankly, Rey is a Mary Sue. Straight up, pure unadulterated Mary Sue. She is too perfect and there is no reason why, after two movies, they couldn’t have at least tried to explain this. It’s annoying and it diminishes the quality of the story… because people are simply too distracted the whole time while watching this giant elephant in the room that Rey somehow knows how to levitate.

I’m just saying, along with many others, that the storytelling is declining in these films because people are trying to make Star Wars into some sort of social narrative rather than a great Space opera fantasy. People need to learn to accept the criticism, because they aren’t being directed at women, but at bad writing… or maybe even a culture that simply can’t accept more believable female characters as leading protagonists. Shutting down the argument as simply sexist isn’t going to do the character justice in the long run, nor will it bode well for narrative fiction as a genre.

Look, if people want the Mary Sue arguments surrounding female characters to go away, stop making them so damn perfect.

Let one of them get their arm lopped off every once in a while.

Let one of them get that nasty facial scar.

Force them to go through real training where we see how much they suck at everything.

And most importantly, let them fail.

I promise you, the fans will love her. And if they don’t, at least then we can have a decent argument about sexism.


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Could a Star Destroyer Defeat the Whole US Army?

More than likely, one TIE Fighter, could defeat the whole of the US Army, the Marine Corps, the Navy, Air Force, and the combined military arsenals of all earthly defense forces.

​Let’s not look at this in terms of bigness of the ships, but of advancements in technology. When we really think about the staggering gulf between the technology of the US military of 2016 and that of the Star Wars universe, you will start to see that this question isn’t really if we can be beaten, but how long would it take. For example, would you consider it possible for a few ship loads of European Conquistadors capable of disemboweling the Aztec Empire in only a matter of months?

​In 1518, Cortés, a Spanish Conquistador, was in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of Mexico for colonization. Accompanied by about 11 ships, 500 men, 13 horses, and a small number of cannon, Cortés landed on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mayan territory. By 1521 Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztecs, had fallen, and Cortés was the governor of all their empire.

The advantages that the Conquistadors brought to fight were steel, both covering their body in armor, and with unyielding weapons. Compare this to the Aztec Eagle Warriors, what amounted to the Aztec’s special forces. For generations, they had only specialized in capture and raid tactics to take living captives for Aztec human sacrifice rituals. The only armor they needed were tightly woven cloth over shirts, and the weapons they used amounted to wooden mallets lined with obsidian. This was virtually worthless against the armored knights of Spain. Added to it the devastating psychological effects of even early guns and the whole of the empire was outmatched by a few very advanced foreigners. Disease had no small role in the defeat of the Aztecs, but the fact was undeniable. Around a thousand men conquered a nation. The difference, it should be noted, between Spain and the Aztecs, was no more than 4,000 and by some accounts much less.

​Compare this the Star Wars of the days of Luke, Leia, and the diabolical Darth Vader. According to the expanded universe, (which shouldn’t be changed for the purposes of this article) hyperdrive was invented something around 40,000 year, at which point, advanced technologies started circulating throughout the galaxy.

Let’s assume that we are only a thousand years away from some form of faster than light travel. That still means we would need to progress for another 40,000 years to be relevant to what that civilization can do. To give it some more perspective in thinking about the conquest of Mexico, instead consider what a modern warrior, take a US Navy SEAL or Marine, armed with something like the M-27 Automatic Rifle.

​Now match them up with their 40,000 years ago counterpart… with his somewhat sharp hand tool.

​Now imagine if you will, if the Marines are that much more powerful than the caveman, what is that much more powerful to the Marines? We can’t fathom it, (it’s a Sith) but if we think logarithmically, we can start to understand exactly how much of a mismatch anything the US military could field.

How would that one lone TIE fighter bring us down? I wouldn’t have the first clue how to answer that. Neither, I assume, could Montezuma. We are operating in the realm of the unknown unknowns just as much as our caveman friend trying to determine the strengths and weaknesses of that M-27 rifle. It’s safe to say, though, that by the end of the day, whatever power he fields will outmatch our own without even the slightest hope of a chance.



 

Oh dear, people in my comments are getting all worked up about stuff. Alas…

Still, a few are cool, so I will address those.

1) Cortez won because of smallpox.

Yeah, I sort of mentioned that, but I want to remind people (subtly) that a person from another galaxy might just have their own Smallpox that could disrupt the whole system just as easily. In fact, far worse. Imagine a bug that can somehow disrupt every living cell on Earth. I’m no space virologist, but I’m just guessing that, like our unfortunate answers the Native Americans, the first time we get the lucky visit from outer space by aliens who aren’t all bad, but lacking in some basic understanding or forethought, billions of us are going to die. We won’t die by murder or conquest, neither malice nor hate… just by accident… which will still be super sad. So… score one for the TIE-Fighter and one against all known and unknown life yet to meet.

2) Cortez won because of allies.

Good job learning your history. Seriously, that’s an important part of the story that I really wish people would research. Yes, Cortez showed up and shifted the balance of power. From that point, all the rival nations tired of, you know, being raided, pillaged, enslaved, and sacrificed for all those years, sort of liked having an opportunity to overthrow the evil empire. Yeah, the Aztecs were horrible people. Don’t feel sorry for them just because a bunch of white Europeans showed up to disrupt their fun and murderous barbarism. Yeah, that’s part of history too. That said, we always have this belief that we will all rally together when evil aliens come to make war on the homeworld (I, for one, still love (with italics) Independence Day) but what happens when they offer a deal to the Russians? I’m just sayin’… in this story, I don’t really trust the Russians. Look, Cortez and his few hundred guys couldn’t have done all that alone. Perhaps our TIE-Fighter couldn’t either… but the TIE and Russia, or maybe China in exchange for a few laser blaster designs… oh yeah, the free world of humankind is boned.

Props for good discussion: Wayne Sherman, Giuseppe Longo

3) “A Tie Fighter is slower than an F16 in atmosphere and has no shields.”

This is actually really cool because someone did good research. Yeah, the specs on the actual ships of the Star Wars universe are weirdly weak, even by modern standards. If you’re interested at all… which you obviously are for reading this far you nerdy nerds, read Brian Collins‘ excellent answer to What technologies in the old Star Wars trilogy (1977 – 1983) are actually not that high-tech and would actually be sort of low-tech if they were actual products/things introduced in 2015? It actually invalidates my answer, but not for the point I was trying to make on how boned we are going to be when a real evil alien menace comes around, but because the creators of Star Wars somehow failed to envision how powerful these things should have been.

4) But how did Ewoks defeat the Stormtroopers with primitive tools?

Shovels are primitive tools. They used shovels… to dig plot holes. That’s how.


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