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Mount Orégano
Sue Burke
Don't Dump on Maritoñi 
5th-Oct-2008 09:28 pm
Gredos2

Last weekend, I won the 2008 Ladrillo de Oro [Golden Brick] Award for the (intentionally) worst article about science fiction in Spanish. It was presented at Spain's HispaCon national convention. The rules required writing a 1000-word article either dressed as a Spanish country bumpkin, or including the word “Maritoñi,” which is short for María Antonia, even though it has no special meaning related to speculative fiction. That didn't stop me.

I decided to present it as the Spanish equivalent for “Mary Sue.” It is not. In Spanish, a “Mary Sue” is a Mary Sue. This article is bad in part due to faulty reasoning.

I won a trophy made out of bricks. The award is sponsored by Días de vino y fandom.

Here is a translation of the article as well as the original in Spanish.

[Author/translator's note: I've tried to maintain the literary excesses of the original, but because of grammatical differences between Spanish and English, some stupidities just don't translate. I've used the translator's option of substituting similar stupidities.]

Don't dump on Maritoñi
by Sue Burke

Obviously, some speculative fiction “authors” know how to write well, but not “all” of them (you know “who” I mean with the “quotation” marks) because plenty of “them,” in fact too many, believe that “they” don't have to study anything, not literature and, of course, not science (WTF! “they” say, I'm writing fiction, not a boring textbook, I'm creating a piece of art, and artists are free!), because “they”'re convinced that “they”'re freed from the complications of reality and above all from the boring classes in high school, and worst of all these “artists” have no freaking clue about what's a Mary Sue: a character who is in reality the alter ego of the “author” (if female, otherwise it's a Gary Stu, but usually “they” are girls/women, and they are what this article will address) and who, in contrast with the “author,” is successful, beautiful, powerful, admired, virtuous, glorious, intelligent (she could have passed the college entry exam in science), loved, talented, important, etcetera: a phenomena encountered in fanfiction, a word with has no Spanish equivalent in spite of a considerable quantity of fiction written by “that” kind of Spanish fan, in which you can encounter the fantasy figure of Mary Sue, which in the language of Cervantes is called Maritoñi and who possesses her own distinguishing characteristics, about which I will expound below.

Every Mary/i/Sue/toñi has uncommon features, usually unusually colored eyes, which in Sue's case tend to be violet flecked with gold, but Toñi's are black, but really truly black, like jet. Her hair is also jetly black, and it's long, as is her public hair. I mean her public hair is black, not long, and it's neatly waxed to create a seductive shape that miraculously never needs a touch-up.

Normally Mary/i has suffered greatly during her childhood. Sue usually grows up in an uncultured, boring little town (an echo of the American and British suburbs where the author lived unhappily) while Toñi is from the poor western Spanish province of Extremadura. And she wasn't adopted, the poor thing. [This is a Spanish political joke.]

These Mary/is enjoy (although sometimes they consider it a curse) not only extraordinary beauty but extraordinary powers, such as the mastery of martial arts, several languages and/or music (various instruments and an unequaled voice). Normally, Sue is also gifted with an exceptional empathy and friendliness that makes everyone her best friend, while Toñi can spend all night enjoying a teenage street-corner drinking party without puking.

But the Mary/i “authors” coincide in selecting what they consider an exquisite name for their creation. For the Sues the cliché is Raven, while the Toñis get something extremely common in Anglo-Saxon culture like Jennifer. Nonetheless, rather frequently both decide to use a name that seems Japanese, like Kudou, even though Mary/i isn't Asian.

We especially find big differences in the plots of Mary/i stories. The Sue type usually has a happy ending (not happy end as they say in Spain because Sue “authors” at least know how to use gerunds even though they can't punctuate to save their lives. Toñi “authors” concur in fatal punctuation.).

In Sueish stories, the beautiful and popular Raven typically saves the hero, if not the entire universe. Sue wants to win, and, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Princess Leia in Star Wars, she can see herself overcoming all the challenges and disasters in her imaginary life with her imaginary gifts, and, as if that weren't enough, she romantically beds the thankful hero. Sue has happy daydreams, although her real life sucks. It's a consequence of her unrealistic culture, which she would call optimistic.

On the other hand, the Toñis live in another world (the Old World) and don't believe that life is a comedy (in the classic sense, as if they had heard of Sophocles) because everyone has told them that life is a tragedy, that victories are false, that success is not within their reach, and that the best they can hope for is to have a good time. And to pass the college entry exams. Jennifer normally dies of injuries in a battle, or of a broken heart, or in an execution, or in a traffic accident, or, best of all, of suicide, possibly at the same time that everyone else dies in a local, worldwide, or galactic war, or in the victory of dark forces or an evil vampire (who is a little like her math teacher) or in an inevitable failure in the fabric of the universe that Jennifer will never understand but, like college entry exams, comes ever closer in this world without God or pity. That is, her imaginary world and her real world suck equally. It's a consequence of her pessimistic culture, which she would call realistic.

In conclusion, the Mary/is have in common the habit of creating a story in which the authors themselves are the heroines and in which they live their dream of a life different from everyday, either better or worse, but in any case more intense and more free, within a fantasy served up in books or on the large or small screen, that offers them everything that their reality lacks, which is excitement without disappointment, adventure without risk, and egoism without reproach, expressed in stories that we can laugh at for their failures in spelling, punctuation, originality, solid plot, and fidelity to the cannon, the same way that the guardians of “literature” (that is, the mainstream, the dominant current, whose custodians believe is the only valid liquid) laugh at speculative fiction in its entirety, be it quality or fanfiction, so we would be equally mistaken to fall into the same trap and dump on our successful, beautiful, powerful, admired, virtuous, glorious, intelligent, loved, talented, important, etcetera bastard daughters, who are named Mary Sue and Maritoñi.

No cagaos en la Maritoñi
de Sue Burke

Es obvio que algun@s autor@s de la fantaciencia saben escribirla bien, pero no tod@s (la importancia de la arroba la veréis pronto) porque bastantes, mejor dicho demasiad@s, creen que no hace falta estudiar nada, ni la literatura ni por supuesto las ciencias (—¡Por Dios —dicen—, escribo ficción y no un texto pedante, voy creando una obra artística, y l@s artist@s somos libres!—), convencid@s de que están liberad@s de la complicada realidad y sobre todo de las asignaturas pesadas del instituto, sobre todo es@s artist@s no tienen ni puta idea de qué es un Mary Sue: un personaje que es en realidad el alter ego de la autora (o del autor, que en tal caso es un Gary Stu, pero es más común que sean autoras, por eso la arroba para incluirlas explícitamente) que en contraste con la autora es una persona exitosa, bella, poderosa, admirada, virtuosa, gloriosa, inteligente (podría haber aprobado la selectividad de las ciencias), deseada, talentosa, importante, etcétera: l@ fenómen@ que se encuentra en la fanfiction, una palabra no españolizada a pesar de que haya una considerable cantidad de ficción escrita por l@s fans español@s donde se encuentra la figura fantástica de Mary Sue, que en la lengua de Cervantes se denomina Maritoñi y que posee características propias, sobre las cuales voy a exponer a continuación.

Cada Mary/i/Sue/toñi disfruta de rasgos poco comunes, frecuentemente ojos de color insólito, que en el caso de Sue suelen ser de violeta con destellos de oro, pero Toñi los tiene negros, pero negros de verdad, como el azabache. También es azabachadamente negro el pelo, que es muy largo, además del vello. Que el vello es negro, quiero decir, y no largo sino bonitamente depilado, dejando una forma seductora que milagrosamente no necesita un retoque de vez en cuando.

Normalmente la Mary/i ha sufrido mucho durante su niñez. Sue suele criarse en un pueblecito inculto y aburridísimo (un eco los suburbs norteamericanos o británicos donde la autora vivía infelizmente) mientras Toñi es extremeña. Pero sin apadrinamiento, la pobre.

Las Mary/is gozan (aunque a veces lo consideran una maldición) no solamente de una belleza extraordinaria sino de poderes extraordinarios, como el dominio de las artes marciales, de un surtido de idiomas y/o de la música (varios instrumentos y una voz sin par). Normalmente, Sue está dotada también de una empatía y amenidad excepcional que convierte a todo el mundo en su mejor amig@, mientras Toñi puede pasar una noche entera alegrándose en un botellón sin vomitar.

Pero las autoras de Mary/i coinciden en escoger para su creación un nombre que les parece precioso. Para las Sue el cliché es Raven (Cuervo) mientras a las Toñi les ponen algo anglosajón muy común como Jennifer. Sin embargo, con bastante frecuencia ambas coinciden en utilizar un nombre que les suena japonés como Kudou a pesar de que la Mary/i no sea asiática.

En especial, encontramos grandes diferencias entre los argumentos de los cuentos mary/ianos. Los de tipo Sue suelen tener un happy ending (no un happy end como dicen en España, que las autoras de Sue por lo menos saben manejar los gerundios aunque no pueden puntuar para salvarles la vida. Las autoras de Toñi coinciden en la puntuación fatal.).

En los cuentos sueanos la hermosa y popular Raven típicamente salva al protagonista cuando no el universo entero. Es que Sue quiere vencer, como Buffy Cazavampira o la Princesa Leia de Star Wars, puede verse superando todos los retos y desastres de la vida imaginaria con sus dotes imaginarios, y, a la postre, acostándose románticamente con el agradecido protagonista. Sue tiene sueños felices, aunque su vida real sea una mierda. Es cosa de su cultura poco realista, que ella llamaría optimista.

En cambio, las Toñi viven en otro mundo (el viejo) y no creen que la vida sea una comedia (en el sentido clásico, si hubieran oído hablar de Sófocles) porque todos les han dicho que es una tragedia, que las victorias son falsas, que el éxito no está a su alcance y que lo mejor que les puede pasar es pasarlo bien. Y pasar la selectividad. Jennifer normalmente muere o de las heridas de una batalla, o del corazón roto, o de una ejecución, o de un acidente de tráfico, o, la más atractiva de todas las posibilidades, de un suicidio, posiblemente al mismo tiempo que muere todo el mundo de una guerra local, mundial o galáctica, o de la victoria de las fuerzas oscuras o del vampiro malo (que tiene algún parecido con su profesor de matemáticas), o de un fallo inevitable de la fábrica del universo que Jennifer nunca podrá entender pero, como los exámenes, va acercándose en este mundo sin Dios ni piedad. O sea, que su mundo imaginario y el real son igualmente una mierda. Es cosa de su cultura pesimista, que ella llamaría realista.

En fin, las Marys/is tienen en común el hábito de crear una historia en que las autoras mismas llevan el protagonismo y viven su sueño de una vida distinta de la cotidiana, sea mejor o peor, pero en todo caso más intensa y más libre dentro de una fantasía servida en los libros o en la pantalla grande o pequeña, y que les ofrece todo lo del que su realidad carece, que es la emoción sin desilusión, la aventura sin riesgos y el egoísmo sin reproche, expresada en cuentos que podemos ridiculizar por su falta de ortografía, puntuación, originalidad, argumento sólido y adhesión al canon, de la misma manera que los guardias de la "literatura" (es decir, de la del mainstream, la corriente dominate, cuyos custodios creen que es el único liquido válido) se burlan de la fantaciencia en su totalidad, sea de calidad o de l@s fans, así que seríamos fe@s caer en la misma trampa y cagarnos en nuestras hijas bastardas, exitosas, bellas, poderosas, admiradas, virtuosas, gloriosas, inteligentes, deseadas, talentosas, importantes, etcéteras, que se llaman Mary Sue y Maritoñi.
Comments 
6th-Oct-2008 03:20 pm (UTC) - Que Lastima!
Awesome piece, and congratulations!

- JoSelle (from BU list)
15th-Oct-2008 06:23 pm (UTC) - Re: Que Lastima!
Thanks. It was fun to write.
6th-Oct-2008 07:17 pm (UTC)
Congratulations! What a cool paperweight!! And I enjoyed your article, including lines such as "It's a consequence of her pessimistic culture, which she would call realistic." , Btw, onne of the most common names for heroines that I've come across is Cat, which is a pity 'cause I really like it. If everyone else wasn't using it, I would!
15th-Oct-2008 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thanks. The trophy could hold down a stack of papers in a hurricane!
12th-Oct-2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
Enhorabuena con ganar el 'ladrillo de oro'! Muy gracioso el artículo.

Dorine from the SF'ku list
28th-Feb-2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
And she wasn't adopted, the poor thing. [This is a Spanish political joke.]


HaHa! Great work! Thanks for sharing!
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