Wednesday, January 15, 2014

No damsel in distress here!

Julie Ayers – not a damsel in distress…

I recently read a very interesting…blog, I think, about Mary Sues. First, let me say that before I read this blog, I had never heard of a Mary Sue, and I didn’t know who she was.

I guess a Mary Sue is a literary or some other form of fictional character, female mostly, though men can be a Mary Sue (or some form of the name), who is practically perfect in every way (no offense to Mary Poppins). She is the heroine who is smarter, more talented, and better at everything than anyone else.

The major problem, according to the blog and subsequent messages, was that there are not enough female heroes represented in movies like The Avengers, or on their own. They were angry that the Black Widow character played a secondary role to Thor, Captain America, The Hulk and Ironman. They were also upset that Black Widow wasn’t going to get her own franchise movie deal. While I won’t disagree that women should be better represented, I do disagree that every female character can carry a movie, let alone a blockbuster movie. But this isn’t just a female superhero problem. I don’t think a character like Flash (my favorite DC superhero) could carry his own movie, either.

Now to Julie. I am so glad that I wrote her the way that I did. Yes, she is a cheerleader and an athlete. And, yes, she is a good student, but not great. And, yes, she is pretty and has a personality that makes people like her. But, she is flawed. She has the same issues that girls her age have: poor body image, disagrees with parents, rocky relationships, and self-doubt. She also fails miserably at the exact moment she is needed most.

I did this in objection to one of my biggest pet peeves toward Harry Potter. Don’t get me wrong, I love the HP stories, as one of my friends has called it, “literary crack,” but in book one how Harry was able to outsmart grown-ups and defeat Quirrell and the return of the great dark wizard, Voldemort, was unrealistic. He needed to be groomed more, he needed to develop longer. And that is what Julie is going to do.

I want Julie to be a role model to girls everywhere. No, they will not get whisked away to a hidden dimension stuck in the Middle Ages, but they can overcome setbacks and failures. They can be strong in the face of danger. They can be a voice of reason. And they can learn to fight their own battles. Not that they dismiss help, because everyone would like a little help now and then, but if they find themselves alone, they can do what is necessary to succeed.

Julie is not a Mary Sue, and she is not a damsel-in-distress. She is a young girl who is learning to be strong, independent and resourceful. Her teacher/mentor, Marcus, is there to help guide her along the way. This does not take away from her strength, but adds to it. Who knows, maybe someday she will find her way to the big screen and be that female hero the writer of the article is looking for.

Enjoy the journey!!