BETTY BLUE: THE OPPOSITE OF MARY SUE
We all know her. We all hate her. She’s Mary freaking Sue. The gosh darn perfect character that every freaking body just seems to love; FOR NO APPARENT REASON! She can be as dumb as a brick and fall in love with a prick, yet Mary Sue can do no wrong. Gag. I’m literally rolling my eyes as I’m writing this.
So why exactly is this poor, sweet, innocent girl such a problem? Simple really. SHE DOESN’T FREAKING EXIST! Except for me of course, cause, I’m well…perfect! I thought you knew. LOL. But, seriously, the point of reading is to put yourselves in the shoes of your character. Live with them. Breathe with them. Indulge with them. And Mary….don’t do none a that! UGH! She makes me want to rip my hair out.
More importantly, she is problematic as a character because she has no depth. She is not fleshed out. She has no personality besides frolicking with the deer (seriously, we’ll have to consider that a personality trait cause she don’t get much deeper than that!). If she does have a “flaw” and I use the term lightly, its usually something frivolous like…clumsy, always hungry, just being too nice! The eyes are rolling again.
I could rag on Susie, all day long! No seriously. I find it quite entertaining. But, as much as I hate her, there is someone else I want to discuss today. Mary Sue’s twin sister, Betty Blue.
WHO IS BETTY BLUE?
I’m glad you asked! Betty Blue is the total antithesis of her sister, Mary Sue. And almost as bad. Almost. You’ve all read her and probably didn’t even realize it. Think about it for a second. Go ahead…I’ll wait…
Thought about anyone yet? Its ok if you couldn’t. This little trickster is often never the main character, or even a main supporting character, but she is definitely in the group and may be even a casual bystander mentioned more than once. Betty Blue is my codename for the character who is just as one dimensional as her sister but to the opposite extreme. Below, I’ll walk you through her characteristics.
Unlike her sister who only thinks she’s hideous, Betty Blue, actually is. She is forlorn and desperate, with no potential prospects. She sits and pines over her looks and why boys just never seem to give her the time of day. Oh! Woe is me!
Betty is the character, where unlike her sister, others applaud her over little physical attributes and encourages her to pursue other things to “compensate” for her “unfortunate” looks. She is usually thrown into the story to serve as a dark reflection to Mary Sue. In chick flicks for example, poor Betty is the greasy haired, pimple faced, nerdy version of Mary. Example you ask?
Need I say more? Some may disagree with me and argue that she is actually a Mary Sue character. I beg to differ. Her friends are technically the Mary Sues. They are the typically gorgeous (yet ambivalent) character who is just good at everything! Consider the movie, The Duff. While the “Duff” (Designated Ugly Fat Friend, for those of you unaware of its meaning) is the total and polar opposite. She is encouraged to focus on non-beauty standards by her mother even and is (as is typically seen) passed over by the hot guy. Poor Betty.
LACK OF TALENT:
While Mary is super talented to the point of disgusting prodigy, Betty is lucky if she has one. In the above example, the Duff is particularly gifted at sewing yet fails to be sporty, athletic, magnetic, funny and so forth as her non-Duff-y friends.
She is there to literally serve solely as the “unfortunate” best friend. The funny thing is though, Betty Blue, can tend to be ridiculously smart, funny if not misunderstood. Betty is often the token comic relief or the token smart person. Example time! Ok…just go with me on this one. I know I’ll probably get crucified and my blog burned to the ground, but listen…please. *takes shaky breath* Ok…I’m just going to say it.
*screams and hides behind immovable object*
Now, hold on angry mob! Hermione doesn’t stay a Betty Blue, she merely started off as one. Just hear me out! Hermione is incredibly capable and talented; in fact, I preferred her to all the other characters combined. However, when we first met her, she constantly annoys her classmates with her knowledge, so Harry and Ron initially consider her arrogant; especially after she criticizes Ron’s incantation of the Levitation Charm. She is not described as being particularly beautiful and is looked upon as “unfortunate” and mud-blood. We learn later on of her deep seeded insecurities but upon our initial interaction with her, I immediately pegged her as a Betty. Just being there for the sake of being smart with no depth. We found out this wrong and praise be for that!
Phew! I’m still alive. YAY!
ON THE OPPOSITE END OF THE SPECTRUM…
Sigh. The classic hallmark of YA and subsequently every Kristen Stewart movie. IJS. If I read about one more dang angst-y teenager, I’ll…I’ll…I don’t know what I’ll do but you won’t like it. There is nothing wrong with being a little angst-y but poor Betty Blue has no idea where it all comes from. Did she run out of ice cream? Pee her pants? Fail her SATs? Her hair is a mess? GASP! Oh the horror! Unlike Mary, who for the most part is so dang cheerful, all the blasted time! Betty is a walking. talking dread machine.
Sadness from Inside Out is one of my favorite characters from the movie and she starts as a, you guessed it Betty Blue. While Joy is your quintessential Mary Sue.
Sadness and Joy are polar opposites. While Joy is outgoing and ferociously optimistic, Sadness is slow and more prone to lie on the ground. Though joyful events can get her to smile (such as when Riley scores her first goal), she is usually pessimistic and consistently sees the negative side of things.
Like the other emotions, she trusts Joy to know what’s right for Riley. She finds herself unhelpful in comparison, and is desperate that she can’t get herself to see things from the same angle as Joy. She is insecure, and lives with the idea that her actions are bad and that she may be harmful for Riley.
THE *gag* MEAN GIRL
Why does every movie, book, song or otherwise intended media geared toward women always, always, always include the mean girl character? What? Women can’t have a genuine sisterhood that pushes and empowers each other? Like, seriously. This character is the classic Betty Blue, because she exists simply to antagonize the MC (which is you guessed it, the Mary Sue). There is usually no history given, no reason behind the bad blood, the mean girl just hates the character for the sake of hating her.
This character usually serves as the foil for the MC in gaining the attention and undying devotion of the love interest (usually because she is ridiculously gorgeous and has a gang of harpies around her).
The problem for this one is again, they are evil just for the sake of being evil. You don’t have to think too hard about which characters easily fit this profile. *cough* Disney! *cough* The quintessential Disney villains are poster child Betty Blue. I mean…every…single last one of them. I’m talking the classics here, not the new stuff. What are their motivations? What instability is pushing them to commit these acts? Prime examples:
In the classic Disney version of the tale Sleeping Beauty, we see Maleficent curse Aurora because her parents didn’t invite Maleficent to the party. Why? Why was she ticked off she didn’t get an invite? Were there tea and crumpets and everyone knew she loved tea and crumpets and they didn’t invite her to get tea and crumpets?! How dare they! There was no backstory, no overarching intent nor clear goal established. She simply cursed the world for the LOLs.
I thoroughly enjoyed that this was rectified in the live action retelling of the story with Angelina Jolie (not the movie! The retelling, big difference).
Here we see that the king was Maleficent’s love and he robbed her of her wings and then rode of to marry some other biatch and had the nerve to knock her up! He tricked Maleficent and played upon her vulnerabilities and love for him for his own selfish gain. It could also be surmised that he feared Maleficent’s power as she could naturally be the only viable threat to his rule. Now, any self respecting woman would be rightly ticked off by this deceit and seek reciprocity. The point is her character and her motivations were fleshed out and she became more than the classic villain archetype. Thus, shedding the Betty Blue persona.
In Snow White, here is one of few examples of an actual motive from Disney villains. Here we see that her motive was the mirror telling her she is not going to remain the fairest of them all.
Reason why she is still a Betty Blue, is because, her motivation has no motivation (if that makes sense). We know the mirror told her that she is not going to the fairest anymore, but what are the repercussions of that? Is she going to whither and die? Turn to dust? Loose her royalty? Her motivation serves as nothing more than a device to move the plot and lacks the depth needed to make her a truly rounded character. She is still one dimensional. A Betty Blue.
HOW TO FIX BETTY BLUE
Fixing a Betty Blue can prove to be more challenging than her twin, Mary Sue. While all Mary needs is a good drop kick to the face! (did that sound bitter? Hmm…couldn’t tell) to toughen her up a bit; Betty can require some major overhaul. And that can be tricky.
To put it simply, Betty is usually the ugly/nerdy sidekick to the captain of the football team. His shallow personality and easily damaged ego benefits from the one dimensional, Betty. Fixing her can in effect overshadow him, aka your main character. Do you really want that? You should.
1.) Well rounded characters add to the plot not detract.
2.) Make sure your character has a life outside of the hero and the central plot. This makes their story line (if you choose to give them one and you probably should) that more interesting.
3.) Balance out their “unfortunate” circumstances with heroic ones. Back to Hermione for this one. I LOVE that she is smarter than Harry. Her arrogance in the beginning was totally forgivable when she was the brainchild of the plan to seek out the Sorcerer’s stone. If Harry had come up with this plan, I probably would have stopped reading the series. And she has proven herself capable on every occasion to the point where they deferred to her for any planning and wit.
4.) Chosen One: how epic would it be if your MC isn’t the chosen one after all? But instead, Betty Blue! I saw this in a book called the Wizard’s Ward by Deborah Hale. The characters Rath and Maura set out to find the “Waiting King.” I can’t reveal how it ends, but it was quite intriguing. You should check it out.
Can you think of any more Betty Blues? Or ways to go about fixing them? Drop a line in the comment section! I’d love to hear from you.
Until Next time G-Nation. Genesys Out!