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POLL: Is Padmé a Mary Sue? - moonspinner
moonspinner
moonspinner
POLL: Is Padmé a Mary Sue?
I was browsing through the TFN boards for the first time since long, long ago and I came across a comment in the Padmé Discussion Thread asking whether she fits the profile of Mary Sue. It has, strangely enough, never been a discussion topic on that thread so I threw it open to the masses.

It got me thinking. I’ve never thought Padmé was a Mary Sue. At the same time, I’ve never considered her as weak or two-dimensional or a bad mother who abandons her children by dying of a broken heart or a useless waste of space for getting in the way of the epic love that is Anakin/Obi-Wan or – and since these seem to be the prevailing opinion of Padmé, I’m now wondering if my Padmé-is-not-a-Mary-Sue theory is not another of my heresies.

And by not considering her a Mary Sue, I mean it in all the definitions of the name – whether it’s a female character that you don’t like because she’s sleeping with your fictional crush or she’s a character (female or male) that is poorly defined and is unjustifiably immune to the laws (of morality, social interactions and physics) of the story she’s part of.

I don’t think Padmé is a Perfect person or even a particularly good person. But I think she’s a pretty good character if the definition of good character is a personality who is three-dimensional with a generally cohesive personality complete with merits and flaws.

But, like I said, I’m pretty out of the fandom mainstream where Padmé Amidala is concerned. It would be interesting to see what other people think and why.





Poll #1586413 Is Padmé a Mary Sue?

Is Padmé a Mary Sue?

Yes
1(3.3%)
No
29(96.7%)

Tags: ,
Current Mood: geeky geeky

67 comments or Leave a comment
Comments
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dreamflower02 From: dreamflower02 Date: July 1st, 2010 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
To me, there is one over-riding element of Mary Sue-ness that is missing when it comes to Padme: she is NOT an authorial self-insert. Furthermore, since she is a part of original source material, she can't interfere with canon (another essential element of Mary-Sueness)

While the Padme of Phantom Menace had a few Mary Sue qualities, I don't think they were enough to make her an actual Mary Sue. She kicked butt, and she was beautiful, and she was royal-- but she did not take over the whole story or ultimately save the day.

And the Padme of the subsequent two movies was definitely NOT a Mary Sue. In fact, you could say she lost a lot of her potential in the way she was portrayed in the last two movies.

(Though for the record: I don't think dying makes one a bad mother either. That's just silly.)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2010 04:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
While the Padme of Phantom Menace had a
few Mary Sue qualities, I don't think they
were enough to make her an actual Mary
Sue. She kicked butt, and she was beautiful,
and she was royal-- but she did not take
over the whole story or ultimately save the
day.


She did save the day - with a little help from her friends and it was a pyrric victory, yes but save the day she did. But does that automatically translate as a Mary Sue quality? Or for that matter, kick-assness & beauty & royalty? What are the odds that a protagonist, main or supporting, in a fantasy will not be kick-ass, goodlooking or instrumental in the eventual victory? What makes it OK for one character to be a Sue and another not?

Actually, canon characters can be Sues. Just ask Star Trek fen about Wesley Cusher. :P
fialleril From: fialleril Date: July 1st, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've come to really, really hate the term "Mary Sue," and I think by this point the word is really a nebulous, swirling vortex of non-meaning, which is more often than not used simply to disguise fandom misogyny. Not always! But I see it used far more often in the sense of "Oh, she's a Mary Sue because she can fight well and she saves the day and gets the boy!" - when, in the very same universe, if a male character does those things and more, it's totally normal and not at all hijacking the story. However, I still (much more rarely!) do see the term used to describe it's originally intended meaning: an obvious authorial self-insert. (And frankly, I don't see what's so wrong with that, either. I mean, sure, they're often not written well, but then...don't read them? It's not like anyone is forcing us to read bad fic!)

That said, in the case of Padme I think there are only two possible definitions of Mary Sue that could apply to her:

1. I don't like her because she's a girl and she takes some of the attention away from the boys. And she gets to snog Anakin. I would like her more if she weren't so involved in the story capable of saving herself sometimes independent - how dare she have a life outside of Anakin? whiny in Episode III.

2. She's great as a strong character, but being in love turns her into a weak woman and a Mary Sue. Because ladies cannot be strong characters and in love at the same time. The two are mutually exclusive.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2010 08:55 pm (UTC) (Link)
[i]it's originally intended meaning: an obvious authorial self-insert. (And frankly, I don't see what's so wrong with that, either. I mean, sure, they're often not written well, but then...don't read them? It's not like anyone is forcing us to read bad fic!)[/i]

It's also a very poor definition of a Mary Sue if the term is supposed to be a negative one. It's [b]impossible[/b] for a writer to create characters that aren't derivatives of his/her personality/ideology in one way or the other. Every character in a story is an authorial self-insert, and the hero is usually the closest one. George Lucas even admits that Skywalker is his self-insert in the OT and I doubt any one can seriously argue that Luke is a Marty Sue.

[i]She's great as a strong character, but being in love turns her into a weak woman and a Mary Sue. [/i]

Yes, that's annoying. It's interesting how characters are dissed for being 'just' love interests when other characters who are 'just' mentors, or 'just' rivals, or 'just' lieutenants get a free pass. Is there any character that doesn't serve a narrative function with respect to the main character/hero of a story? Does Dumbledore become a Sue because he's just the Wise Old Mentor? And how come the male love interests get a free pass, right down to a male's role being transformed from Lieutenant or Rival or even Brother to strictly Love Interest in fan fiction?
in_excelsis_dea From: in_excelsis_dea Date: July 1st, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have never felt a MS vibe from Padmé -- and I did not start out as a PA fan. Actually, until just before ROTS came out, I hated the idea of PA. But it wasn't because of her character, it was more because of Anakin's -- I felt their relationship made no sense. After some reflection, I realized that it was basically Anakin's character that explains their entire relationship. He was obsessed; he pursued her.

As for Padmé -- I don't know. SHe certainly wasn't an author-insert (though I've read excellent AIs, and MSs who weren't AIs). She wasn't perfect by any means. She was an important character, but I never felt as if she stole the spotlight. She was attacked, yes, but seeing as how Palpatine was from her planet and had it in for her, it makes sense that she'd be in on the action. She wasn't force sensitive (which is something I hate when fan fic authors do that, because that does go into the realm of MS), and her combat skills are good, but nothing a normal human with training couldn't do.

She became Queen on her own. She's clearly very smart and good with people, but it's like, I dunno -- there are people like that. They generally become politicians in this world too. There's no part of her that I would say make her too perfect.

I would say that if anything, Padme is a defined character and one who suffers more than most due to the laws of morality, social interactions and physics.

She starts out as a young Queen who has to deal with a huge problem that threatens her planet and people. It's usual that Anakin/Obi-Wan supporters are going to dislike her (a phenomenon that I hate -- why do people always have to hate characters and make them in MSs when they come between their ships?). And seeing how Anakin strangled her, I wouldn't be surprised if she died primarily because of trauma like that, or even due to the pregnancy.

Seriously, I think that annoys me the most, that people claim that she is a horrible mother because she died. That's just...
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2010 05:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would say that if anything, Padme is a
defined character and one who suffers
more than most due to the laws of morality,
social interactions and physics.

LOL!

Seriously, I think that annoys me the most,
that people claim that she is a horrible
mother because she died. That's just...


I think people who say that really have no idea what they're talking about & should be ignored as a general principle.

It's interesting what you observed from the A/O fen because I've picked up on it as well.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: July 1st, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
She is a canon character. She cannot be a Mary Sue by definition.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC) (Link)
Have you met Wesley Cusher? ;)
4thofeleven From: 4thofeleven Date: July 1st, 2010 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I would think any Sue-sensor sensitive enough to ping Padme as a Sue should have already overloaded when exposed to Anakin Skywalker...
fialleril From: fialleril Date: July 1st, 2010 04:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's different because he's a boy. He's supposed to be in the spotlight.

):
(Deleted comment)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2010 06:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've seen the term applied to characters who weren't awesome or attempted to be. But would she be a Mary Sue if Padme outshone the other characters, be they male or female? The Ewan McGregor's talent steals the show from everyone else, including the main character but no one calls Obi-Wan a Sue even though I think he just barely misses being one.
(Deleted comment)
(Deleted comment)
albumsontheside From: albumsontheside Date: July 1st, 2010 04:42 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't think that Padmé is a Mary Sue at all. However, although I ship Anakin/Padmé, I began to like her less and less as her character became defined less by her politics and more by her relationship with Anakin, and by ROTS she had become such a weak character ("I'll drop all my political commitments and have my baby on Naboo!") that I was frankly sick of her. She had such promise in TPM/early AOTC, but ... after my OTP was actually realised onscreen, it got ruined. idek :|
firehearts132 From: firehearts132 Date: July 20th, 2011 04:21 am (UTC) (Link)
Well, I think that's because a lot of her political scenes were deleted. If they weren't, ROTS!Padme wouldn't seem much different from AOTC!Padme. Also, I'm not sure she was really willing to give up her political commitments. She seemed worried about losing her career in the ROTS novel. Sure she may have thought about giving it up at times, but I'm not sure if she was truly willing to give it up.

sistermagpie From: sistermagpie Date: July 1st, 2010 05:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've never thought this at all. I disagree with the above comment that canon characters can't be Mary Sues--I think they most definitely can be. But I don't see why Padme would qualify. She's skilled in some ways, yes, but never beyond what she probably would be and she never seems to go outside her role where other characters should be the ones getting the glory or whatever. I don't even know where someone would start in thinking she was Sue-ish. Particularly with Anakin standing next to her. Not that I think he's a Sue either, but he's the special person in this universe whose specialness makes an impression on everyone.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2010 08:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I disagree with the above comment that canon characters can't be Mary Sues--I think they most definitely can be.

*g* *cough*Harry*Cough*Ginny*cough*

On a more serious note: Wesley Cusher, ladies and gentlemen. :D

sunnyskywalker From: sunnyskywalker Date: July 1st, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC) (Link)
I label "character I don't like because of x" as a character someone doesn't like, and leave Mary Sue for characters who warp their universe's rules. Which Padmé doesn't do.

I don't like some of Lucas's handling of her storyline, but that's a different issue. (Couldn't that droid just have stuck to the original line about how they couldn't explain her total systemic failure or whatever? Then we could assume various medical issues they just didn't catch, or Vader draining her life force while getting his robot parts somehow, etc.)
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: July 2nd, 2010 03:18 am (UTC) (Link)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 2nd, 2010 08:09 am (UTC) (Link)

This is brilliant!

All right, if you're so smart, what DOES make a Mary Sue?

...Mary Sue is an error that always extends beyond the Sue in question. The problem with her isn't anything about her nature; it's how she functions in the narrative of the story...

She's breaking all the rules.
She's a usurper.
Here's looking at me-me-ME.


Once again, have you met Wesley Cusher?
pinkpolarity From: pinkpolarity Date: July 2nd, 2010 08:36 am (UTC) (Link)
A Canon Mary Sue to me is a character who breaks the suspension of disbelief, warps the world around her (there are rules that apply to every character *but this one*), and/or the writers have decided is so astonishingly awesome that she must be rammed down the audience's throats as early and as often as possible. I don't see the latter two in Padme, though I do think she's a giant mess of a character in the way Lucas wrote her screwed her up. A 14-year-old elected queen doesn't do happy things to my suspension of disbelief, though I suppose it makes some kind of sense that a society that super-trains its gifted youth would produce a woman who is startlingly intelligent, self-contained, and capable, yet who inexplicably falls for the world's most wangsty, self-centered, and creepy adolescent boy. Clearly they didn't cover romance in her otherwise thorough training. IMO, not well-written, but not a Sue. Lucas doesn't adore her nearly enough to give her that treatment, she's a means to an end.

Anakin, OTOH, is a really glaringly obvious Gary Stu.
darth_eldritch From: darth_eldritch Date: July 2nd, 2010 03:01 pm (UTC) (Link)
Anakin, OTOH, is a really glaringly obvious Gary Stu.

Thank you!

Padme can't be a Sue because she is not a self insert-- because the story wasn't written by a woman. So, it naturally follows that Anakin Skywalker is a Gary Stu because the story is written by a male. But how often is he called on that?

Anakin Skywalker (with his light side version in his son, Luke Skywalker) is pure self insert. It is the driving force behind the story. "It's all about fathers and sons," says Lucas. With that, Padme is a means to an end.

Which really means that any female character written by a woman, no matter how well written, is going to be defined as a Sue becuase that character is a self insert at some level, even as we have had centuries and millennia of Gary Stus.

irnan From: irnan Date: July 2nd, 2010 09:46 am (UTC) (Link)
I don’t think Padmé is a Perfect person or even a particularly good person. But I think she’s a pretty good character if the definition of good character is a personality who is three-dimensional with a generally cohesive personality complete with merits and flaws.

IAWTC. The character I most call Mary Sue is the character who can do anything - anything at all, and they do it so awesomely that everyone else is dumbstruck by how awesome and smart they are. They don't have flaws per se, just bouts of melodrama, usually in connection with a Tragic Past. They're defined primarily by their skills and their Amazing Abilities.

But I always think Padmé is defined by her flaws: her inability to face or even comprehend the reality of the situation in ROTS ("I know you've been under a lot of stress, Anakin"? Really? Just stress?), her naivete throughout the entire PT, from not knowing that slavery existed in the Outer Rim to rushing off to Geonosis to rescue Obi-Wan (seriously, you think you can waltz into that place without a mandate from the Senate and against the express orders of the Jedi Council claiming you want to "find a diplomatic solution" and not have them use your presence as an excuse to start a war?).

Even her compassion becomes a flaw, because she doesn't acknowledge that Anakin has done wrong by killing the Tuskens in AOTC; she just comforts him. Padmé uses her compassion to excuse (whereas Luke uses his to save. I think that's an important difference between them.).

(I still would rather she died from the strain of the birth being too much for her body to bear after everything else that she's been through than loss of the will to live, though. ;) )
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 2nd, 2010 12:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
Even her compassion becomes a flaw, because she doesn't acknowledge that Anakin has done wrong by killing the Tuskens in AOTC; she just comforts him. Padmé uses her compassion to excuse (whereas Luke uses his to save. I think that's an important difference between them.).

Oh wow, you could have shone a torchlight into my head and found this, only in much more disarray. The problem I always find with articles denigrating Padmé as a character is the unspoken implication that any female character that is not admirable is a "weak" character. And this is coming from a fandom with Vader fen, Nute Gunray apologetics and even Palpatine adorers! But somehow, when a woman is less than perfect she's a weak character. (And usually when she is too "perfect", she is a Sue. Women can't win).


seriously, you think you can waltz into that place without a mandate from the Senate and against the express orders of the Jedi Council claiming you want to "find a diplomatic solution" and not have them use your presence as an excuse to start a war?

I always thought it a pity that they cut out the scenes where Dooku and Padmé have a face-off: he offering Naboo a position in the Confederacy and she turning it down. More on that line of thought, I always wished Lucas could have done more with the fact that Naboo had already been disillusioned by the Republic and might not have found the offer unattractive. There is some EU-canon that mentions Jamilla being a Separatist sympathizer and Amidala covertly ousting her from her office and handing the reigns to the Queen we see in RotS. I understand that it is tangential to the story but there should have been some way of introducing the idea that the Separatist was not only made up of "evil" states.
sunlit_music From: sunlit_music Date: July 2nd, 2010 10:02 am (UTC) (Link)
I like Padme. She's strong, smart and gorgeous, but the universe doesn't revolve around her. And I don't think she's a Sue either.

Now Anakin, however, is an entirely different story...he's a humungous Stu IMO.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 2nd, 2010 12:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I didn't think so either but who knows? Why do you think Anakin is a Sue? *curious*
chameleon_irony From: chameleon_irony Date: July 2nd, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very interesting discussion here.

I think Padmé is too flawed to be a Mary Sue. Like irnan said, even her compassion is a flaw - it does more evil than good, and it kills her in the end.

I hate it when people make her a Mary Sue in fanfiction, a "strong female character", as if a woman isn't allowed to be imperfect, human, weak sometimes, and as if it makes her less interesting if she is.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 4th, 2010 12:26 am (UTC) (Link)
I hate it when people make her a Mary Sue in fanfiction, a "strong female character", as if a woman isn't allowed to be imperfect, human, weak sometimes, and as if it makes her less interesting if she is.

I wonder if this is inevitable. Since fanfiction is predominantly written by women and P is the most obvious character for a female author to identify with - so as a result, ff writers want to make her into someone they'd like to be instead of trying to deal with her as she is, faults and all.
From: bobill Date: July 2nd, 2010 10:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey sorry for pooping all over your comments page. I realized in retrospect that I should probably link to really long responses. I posted my opinions here: http://bobill.livejournal.com/216620.html
chameleon_irony From: chameleon_irony Date: July 3rd, 2010 05:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
I think your comment was very interesting!
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