Is Rey a Mary Sue?

Star Wars: the Force Awakens was a pretty good movie, but Rey might become a Mary Sue. Not because of anything that is wrong with her. Her personality is fine, her actress was fine, but the rules of her own universe are often broken for her, which doesn’t happen to everyone else as much.

Breaking the rules for the hero isn’t unusual. Star Wars stories often break and bend their own rules, just to let the heroes win. When I was watching the New Hope, it was impossible to ignore how badly the stormtroopers shot compared to the heroes. It’s also pretty silly how the Death Star always kept being blown up due to some convenient weak point. But it was acceptable, because all the heroes received the same Mary Sue treatment, and didn’t seem so Sueish when compared to each other. For example, Luke might have had the force and learned fast, but he wasn’t as badass as Han Solo when it came to dealing with bar fights in New Hope. Luke was an equal in his own hero group.

Rey, on the other hand, is better than everyone else. She can fly the Millenium Falcon and fix it, she can fight off anyone who attacks her, she can out-force another force user without former training, shoot well without former training, use a lightsaber without former training, and save herself from almost anything that comes across her. If she only had half of those skills, it would fall within the regular Star Wars hero Sueness, but she has way more of those than the other characters.

Also, Kylo Ren does some pretty stupid stuff, which allows Rey to escape easier. I’m not sure if this counts as Kylo Ren character development or the writers handicapping the villain to make it easier for the hero. Maybe both. First of all, he discovers she’s got the force, and immediately leaves her to be guarded by a regular weak-minded storm-trooper that she can manipulate. And then he makes his own injury worse by knocking on it. And later, when they are sword-fighting, he tells her he could teach her how to use the force better, which reminds her she could just use it against him. He even lets her concentrate and collect her strength for a minute, allowing her more opportunity to kick his ass. It’s almost like he wanted to be beaten.

Actually that was hilarious. Kylo Ren, despite making questionable decisions and being beaten up by someone with much less training, was kinda cool and very entertaining. Not to mention the writers gave him a real personality and motivations. I know many people thought he was an emo brat and not menacing at all after he took his helmet off, but I think he’s great. It’s funny how he’s afraid of not being as good as Darth Vader. It’s almost like the writers know they have a lot to live up to when making a new villain, so they made their villain worry about it, too. That’s both funny and clever.

Another character I really liked was Finn. He has real struggles and flaws, but can also be tough and heroic for the right purpose. I also loved the fact that he was a stormtrooper – those are usually nothing but cannon fodder for the heroes to shoot and the main villain to lose his temper at. Showing that they can be human is not common, and I can’t help but root for him now. Something similar to this happened in Mad Max:Fury Road, which is another movie accused of being feminist propaganda.

So both of these guys got upstaged by Rey, but have more personality. If I was a feminist, I would commend the filmmakers for their effort but not be totally happy yet. Because this movie made the men more interesting than the main heroine (at least in my opinion). And I would want the heroine to become just as interesting in the sequels.

So is Rey a Mary Sue? I don’t think she is yet. The story isn’t over and I don’t know what will happen in the next two movies. Maybe she’s so powerful because she received Jedi training in the past, got her memory wiped, and slowly got it back when she touched Luke’s sword and got those visions/flashbacks. Or maybe her character development will take an interesting turn in the next movie. I’ll have to wait and see.

What did you think?

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Politics Make Us All Into Humorless Killjoys Who Can’t Enjoy a Movie

It’s annoying when a feminist sees a movie and calls it misogynist because some character said something that her paranoid mind interpreted as her favorite type of oppression.

It’s not any cuter coming from the opposite political side.

If politics is the only thing you see when you watch movies, you might be a humorless killjoy.

If you often get offended about some minor detail in an otherwise decent movie, you might be a humorless killjoy.

If you’d rather complain about lack of *insert adjective**insert race/sex/religion/whatever* characters in the media instead of writing your own, you might be a humorless killjoy.


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Atlas Shrugged: Dagny Shot First

There is one scene in the book that many people hate. It makes Dagny look like a cold-blooded killer to them. I was looking forward to reading it and judging Dagny’s actions for myself.

John Galt is captured and is being tortured in the science building where Dr Ferris works. Dagny and other strikers approach from all sides. Dagny approaches a guard and tries to persuade the guard to let her in, because she’s a friend of the president. The guard is the type of guy who doesn’t know how to think for himself, but is very good at following orders (which is why he and the other guards were selected to guard the torture building). Because he’s trained to listen to authority, he is confused and not sure whether to listen to Dagny’s authority or Dr. Ferris’ authority. He can’t choose at all – he neither steps aside, nor draws his own gun. Not even when Dagny draws hers and tells him she’ll shoot him dead if he doesn’t move aside. Dagny shoots and kills him.

“But I can’t decide! Why me?”

“Because it’s your body that’s barring my way.”

“But I can’t decide! I’m not supposed to decide!”

“I’ll count to three,” she said. “Then I’ll shoot.”

“Wait! Wait! I haven’t said yes or no!” he cried, cringing tighter against the door, as if immobility of mind and body were his best protection.

“One-” she counted; she could see his eyes staring at her in terror- “Two-” she could see that the gun held less terror for him than the alternative she offered – “Thee.”

Calmly and impersonally, she, who would have hesitated to fire at an animal, pulled the trigger and fired straight at the heart of a man who had wanted to exist without the responsibility of consciousness.”

I could see why this scene would make Dagny look bad. The guy is a total dumbass. Did he deserve death? Not to mention, Francisco, Ragnar and Hank all go through guards as well, but don’t kill theirs – they just bind and gag them. Couldn’t Dagny do the same?

I guess she could have. But the more I think about it, the more I see that it would have been extra nice of her to do that, rather than the only alternative worthy of a heroine. Imagine your loved one is being tortured in a building, you don’t know what shape they are in, and the guy at the door refuses to budge. He’s hired to guard the torture building and he probably knows what he’s guarding (the guards inside certainly knew). It doesn’t matter if he is just following orders and is unable to decide anything – he is aiding and abetting torturers. And even if you’re not sure if he knows what he’s guarding, you still have this strong urgency to go past him. Wouldn’t you fight to death for those you love?

P.S. I wonder why only Dagny kills an entrance door guard. Maybe only her guard was stupid, and the others valued their lives. Or maybe she was the most desperate to save Galt due to romantic love. What do you think?

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Atlas Shrugged: John Galt Didn’t Murder the World

Did anyone else notice that John Galt didn’t cause the world to collapse?

He says that he turned off the motor of the world, but I find it ironically not quite true.

There is a great scene in the book, where the gang of cronies capture Galt and then try to persuade him to make the economy function again. He says he would do so, if they just gave up their power and got the hell out of his way. They don’t want that of course, but hope he’d make the economy work anyway. They try to guilt him into it, by saying people would starve and die without him. He refuses, and he’s not a heartless bastard for doing so.

If the cronies really wanted to save the people, they’d give up their power and let Galt fix everything. What they really wanted was to save their asses and go on living as usual, taking from the productive people and using the weaker people as an excuse. Whoever drove the economy into the ground is the one to blame for all those people’s deaths, not whoever refuses to save the world.

Here is the scene:

“”It’s the question of moral responsibility that you might not have studied sufficiently, Mr. Galt,” Dr. Ferris was drawling in too airy, too forced a tone of casual informality. “You seem to have talked on the radio about nothing but sins of commission. But there are also the sins of omission to consider. To fail to save a life is as immoral as to murder. The consequences are the same – and since we must judge actions by their consequences, the moral responsibility is the same… For instance, in view of the desperate shortage of food, it has been suggested that it might become necessary to issue a directive ordering that every third one of all children under the age of ten and of all adults over the age of sixty be put to death, to secure survival of the rest. You wouldn’t want this to happen, would you? You can prevent it. One word from you would prevent it. If you refuse and all those people are executed – it will be your fault and your moral responsibility!”

“You’re crazy!” screamed Mr. Thompson, recovering from shock and leaping to his feet. “Nobody’s ever suggested any such thing! Nobody’s ever considered it! Please, Mr. Galt! Don’t believe him! He doesn’t mean it!””

Dr. Ferris is right though – if John Galt is responsible for the wellbeing of everyone on the planet, then he is the murderer if he refuses to give in and the government randomly executes a bunch of people.

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Atlas Shrugged: The Speech and Its Core Message

I’ve finally finished reading the infamous John Galt speech 😀

My impression is that I generally agree with him, apart from a few points.

He focuses on having a healthy sense of selfishness, and always using your mind. He also says that morality is when you always use your mind, never stay willfully ignorant and never do anything you know to be evil. He also insists that practicing such morality is not hard – in fact the happiest moments of your life are probably those when you followed his code.


According to Galt, every human interaction must be done as a trade, and never as a sacrifice.

Sacrifice is when you give a dollar and receive a penny – you give up something of larger value and receive something of smaller value (sometimes even negative value). Going without a meal to feed your child is not sacrifice – if you value your child more than your health. Even dying while fighting for some cause is not really sacrifice, if you love that cause so much that you’ll have it or die trying. But giving your food to a neighbor’s kid and letting your kid starve is a sacrifice. And dying for something you don’t believe in is sacrifice. The less you get out of your giving, the more of a sacrifice it is. Giving to the people you love does not count. The biggest sacrifice of them all is to give to people you hate.

Even when you give to charity or help someone out “for free”, it must be a trade. If you choose to help someone, do it because that person is suffering unjustly, and you’re fighting against injustice. Or do it on the ground of his virtues or his fight to recover. Don’t help some asshole with no virtues or willingness to get better, who demands your help – to help such people increases evil in the world.

I generally agree – sacrifice sounds downright absurd when you take it to its logical conclusion. I think sacrifice takes more away from you, than it gives to the other person. It’s not a virtue to build a happy world upon. And it’s not a virtue to build your self-esteem upon.

I also generally agree that one shouldn’t reward assholes. You get more of the behavior you reward. Although sometimes, a seemingly useless person has hidden virtues that are not apparent at the first glance. My grandfather often put various alcoholics and unemployed young men to work, and they got better. I suppose he saw they had something to give, and made his investment first. I think in John Galt’s logic, this would fall under “helping someone on the ground of their virtues”.

Using Your Mind

Galt says nothing but moral perfection will do, but it’s not as hard as it looks. You just have to always use your mind, never be willfully ignorant and never do anything you know is evil.

Do not listen to those people who say human knowledge is limited and fallible and therefore can’t be trusted – our knowledge might be limited, but there is no better alternative. Even if you know very little, that knowledge is yours. And no matter what ideologues, leaders and politicians around you say, your mind is the last decision-maker on whether you believe them or not. In short, have a little confidence in your judgment. Being a know-nothing is even worse than being a know-it-all.

Galt also said that morality and reason are the same thing. And happiness is proof of living morally and rationally. I think as an approximation, it’s sort of true. At least, for most normal people in most life situations it would make sense. If you’re normal, you have a conscience. You feel guilty when you screw people over, and it doesn’t contribute to your happiness as much as you hoped. It can also make people less likely to trade with you, and someone might take revenge. On the global scale, contributing to evil will make your world worse, and that will cause you harm. If you wanted as few problems as possible, you’d at least eliminate the self-imposed ones. And if you wanted as few of your problems to come from yourself, you wouldn’t contribute to evil. You have to rationally realize that, and act accordingly. Unless you have abnormal psychology. If you’re a sociopath or a psychopath, you won’t feel guilt or anxiety about your wrongdoings. You’re probably good at lying and might get away with this for life. Might even get a high power position due to your charm. Does that mean that for a psychopath, it’s moral and reasonable to screw people over?

And that is the problem with trying to find objective morality – something based on feels can’t be totally objective, even if the majority of the feelers have the same psychology and therefore agree about what’s moral. There will always be a psychopath. Or a person who insists that the color of his neighbor’s house violates his rights. How are we to prove to him, that it doesn’t? The best we can say is that he’s not normal and the law will not cater to unreasonable men’s offenses.

Galt’s idea of moral perfection is easier than it initially sounds, but harder than he thinks. Always using your mind and never being willfully ignorant are fairly easy. But never doing anything evil is harder, and I’m not sure how to reconcile it with the rule that you must never sacrifice yourself. In the book, there was a little character called Tony, or the Wet Nurse as they called him. He was a bureaucrat installed at Hank Rearden’s mills. He was educated in looter philosophy in his college, and thus emerged from there stupider than he was before. Through interaction with Hank Rearden, he gets better. He helps Hank avoid following stupid bureaucratic rules and even wants to give up his government job to work for real in Hank Rearden’s mills. But it’s not possible – the government doesn’t let you go. Eventually, thugs attack the mills and try to make Tony sign some papers to make the attack legit. He refuses and tries to run away, but they shoot him and kill him. How could this character have acted to avoid martyrdom, and also acted morally right? The book only lets us know the reaction of Hank Rearden. He’s very angry at the school and college teachers who doomed this guy to the wrong path right from the start. Just like growing up in a gang-ridden territory might doom you a life of crime, jail or violent death, growing up as a legal looter can doom you, too. Even if you try to leave. Or especially then… The guy wasn’t to blame for his brainwashing and everyone (the book, the reader, Hank Rearden) has sympathy for him, but he simply couldn’t get out of the shit he was in. It’s correct that he should never have been in that situation in the first place, but how to act when you are stuck? This isn’t the first time the book describes how some regular guy, stuck in the system, is forced to choose between two horrible choices, both having unacceptable consequences. The book doesn’t seem to condemn them no matter what they choose, perhaps because they had limited responsibility for ending up in that situation, but I’m not sure. Dr. Stadler gets no such sympathy, when he is forced to choose between himself and lives of other people – he knew what he was doing.

What core message did you get out of the speech? 🙂 Do you agree or disagree?

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Atlas Shrugged: Can People Like James Taggart Exist?

James Taggart is one of the most fun characters to read about. The heroes are great and interesting, but at times, they seem a bit too infallible and characters like James are a nice change of scenery. He’s a villain and ruins everyone’s day, but he’s also pathetic and kind of pitiable. He’s jealous of people who are capable and proud of it, and wishes to destroy them. Yet even when he succeeds at this, he’s never really happy.

James Taggart’s Motivation

At first, I thought he’s simply feeling inferior and is trying to win the game of life by bringing people down. That is plausible. Even when Dagny, Francisco and James were children, James was jealous of them. While it’s not clear why he’s jealous and unfriendly, it could be because they were more talented than him and he could never measure up. The desire to win using dishonest means is certainly plausible when one thinks honest means will not work.

However, I think Rand means for us to think that James is actually motivated by destruction of good productive people, unbeknownst to himself. He’s not just some guy with an inferiority complex, who is tired of losing to his talented sibling and childhood friend. He doesn’t just want to win all the money and fame for himself. He wants to bring everybody down, but can’t admit that to himself.

Towards the end of the novel, he is walking around after a party, and realizes he wouldn’t care if he became a beggar tomorrow. The only thing that makes him feel real gratification is ruining people like Francisco, by making sure his copper mines get nationalized and taken away. However, he doesn’t allow himself to get too close to this realization, and prefers to never define what he wants. Knowing his real motivation would be unbearable and cause a mental breakdown:

“This is the way he had lived all his life – keeping his eyes stubbornly, safely on the immediate pavement before him, craftily avoiding the sight of his road, of corners, of distances, of pinnacles. He had never intended going anywhere, he had wanted to be free of progression, free of the yoke of a straight line, he has never wanted his years to add up to any sum – what had summed them up? – why had he reached some unchosen destination where one could no longer stand still or retreat?”

His real motivation also shows itself in his choice of wife. He gets married to a poor shop girl Cherryl Brooks, despite being rich and powerful. Cherryl is the type of girl who deeply admires heroes, and mistakenly believes James to be one (the famous and controversial John Galt train track was actually built by his sister). The marriage doesn’t work out, because James is never happy with anything Cherryl does, and refuses to explain what she’s doing wrong. He condescendingly tells her “If you have to ask what you did wrong, it’s useless to explain”. In the end, he’s so annoyed by her questions that he does explain what he wants, to the best of his knowledge anyway (remember, he doesn’t know he’s actually motivated by destruction of good people). He says he just wants to be loved for himself – not his money, looks, achievements, thoughts or actions. He wants love to be totally unearned, or else it’s just a cold, soulless transaction. Essentially, he married low-hanging fruit so she’d appreciate him and they could both give the finger to self-improvement, and be their rotten selves around each other. Cherryl sees through Jim’s real motivation:

“You’re lying, Jim.”

His answer was only a startled glance of astonishment.

“Those girls that you used to buy for the price of a meal, they would have been glad to let their real selves become a gutter, they would have taken your alms and never tried to rise, but you would not marry one of them. You married me, because you knew that I did not accept the gutter, inside or out, that I was struggling to rise and would go on struggling – didn’t you?”

“Yes!” he cried”

And this is when we find out that he married a girl just to punish her for hero-worship, and thus indirectly harm the heroes. Again. How can someone be so venomous? Is it possible in real life?

Real People Who Were Similar

1.James kind of reminds me of my mom’s second husband. He was a high earner, but was constantly worried that his money was being taken. He stole forks at restaurants and often traveled without a bus ticket, and was pretty amused by it. He knew he was marrying a woman with a child, yet he did so anyway and was soon very unhappy that we needed clothes and food. He was always saying I eat too much, even though I weighed about 50 kg in my teens and even dieted. To his friends, he lied about how much he really spent on specific things. He was negative and stressed us out, yet I also often felt sorry for him. For a while, I really did feel like I was causing him harm, and tried to avoid it as much as possible. My efforts weren’t really working though, so eventually I gave up and got hostile, too.

I’m still confused about why a man so scared for his money would marry a foreign woman with a teenage daughter. This was his third marriage. He complained how his second wife received some of his furniture in divorce, and we likewise received some furniture. What was his motivation? Could it have been similar to James’? I’ll probably never know.

2.Some people really are motivated by destruction. But I think this only happens when a person has no hope of achieving any positive goals. They could be lonely. Perhaps an incel. Or unemployed, stuck in a dead end job and disgruntled. However, that motivation to destroy would dissipate the moment such a person got love, friends, a better job or realistic hope that things are on their way up. I don’t think either James or my mom’s second husband were one of these people.

What do you think? Have you met anyone like James Taggart? Do you think he could exist?

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Atlas Shrugged: Preferences Are Not Just Preferences

This is my first post where I will criticize something in Atlas Shrugged. That something is Rand’s views on people’s sexual and artistic tastes.

I think Rand believes people’s morals and thoughts cause people’s tastes. A person who thinks and acts with integrity will not have “depraved” tastes. Such a person will like only the best art and only have sex with a few chosen people. Likewise, a person who thinks or acts without integrity will enjoy modern art and be indiscriminate and promiscuous.

Here’s what Richard Halley, a composer and one of the strikers, says about his art:

“I do not care to be admired causelessly, emotionally, intuitively, instinctively – or blindly. I do not care for blindness in any form, I have too much to show – or for deafness, I have too much to say. I do not care to be admired by anyone’s heart – only by someone’s head.”

Then he says that he has more in common with tone-deaf businessmen like Ellis Wyatt, than modern artists, and his creation process is very similar to creation processes of engineers. That is, reason and thinking are used extensively, while using pure feeling is just as bad in art as in engineering.

Here’s what Francisco says about sexuality:

“But, in fact, a man’s sexual choice is the result and the sum of his fundamental convictions. Tell me what a man finds sexually attractive and I’ll tell you his entire philosophy of life. Show me the woman he sleeps with and I will tell you his valuation of himself.”


“He will always be attracted to the woman who reflects his deepest vision of himself, the woman whose surrender permits him to experience – or to fake – a sense of self-esteem. The man who is profoundly certain of his own value, will want the highest type of woman he can find, the woman he admires, the strongest, the hardest to conquer – because only the possession of a heroine will give him the sense of an achievement, not the possession of a brainless slut.”


“He does not seek to gain his value, he seeks to express it. There is no conflict between the standards of his mind and the desires of his body. But the man who is convinced of his own worthlessness will be drawn to the woman he despises – because she will reflect his own secret self, she will release him from that objective reality in which he is a fraud, she will give him a momentary illusion of his own value and a momentary escape from his moral code that damns him.”

When we see something, the signal is seen by both the rational brain and the lizard brain. We don’t rationally consider something first, and then decide how we feel about it. Our preferences cannot be the sum of our convictions – a lot of it is governed by our animal brain. Because of this, I think people often can’t explain why they like something. And if they try to explain it, a bunch of rationalizations come out, which may or may not hit the real reason on the mark.

A man with great self-esteem and self-respect might admire a heroine, but only be attracted to her if she’s physically hot. If she’s not, he might love her, but not be in love with her. And he will fuck “brainless sluts”, if they add pleasure to his life and don’t subtract from it. And it wouldn’t be inconsistent. In general, I think Rand projects her own type of female sexuality onto men, and that’s just incorrect.

And even if someone has more unusual sexual preferences, it doesn’t necessarily say anything about their character. I myself like sexually impoverished beta males and have a fetish for charity sex, but lean towards libertarianism politically. There are tons of people who are aroused by causing pain to consenting partners, yet they are not evil.

To be fair, sometimes someone’s sexuality is strikingly in sync with their other values. Many serial killers are aroused by other people’s pain. But it’s kind of like pointing out that some school shooters played violent video games or watched horror movies – dangerous psychos often love dark stuff, but so do huge numbers of normal, peaceful people.

While I like that Rand is against the idea that sexual desires are dirty and evil, I don’t like that she defines some sexual desires as signs of low self-esteem and lack of integrity, when it simply isn’t true. The implication is that you must train yourself into the right type of desires and start liking the right type of art, if you want to be a better person. I think this is a very limiting belief. It’s just another way to imprison your soul, or accept that you’re evil somehow. It sounds like modern feminism. Or Catholicism. I’m just glad it’s not a major point in the book and I can ignore it and enjoy the rest of the philosophy.

While I like that Rand values the mind so much, it seems she devalues intuition and the animal side of humans. I believe that to be reasonable, one can’t deny that one has an animal side, or try to eliminate it. Knowledge is power. And fighting a large part of yourself is very weakening. That part evolved for a reason. I won’t generalize my experience to everyone, but I became much stronger and happier by becoming friends with the “beast” and using it to my advantage. I find that being friends with my dark and irrational side sets me free from self-disappointment and pressure to be perfect. Using the dark and irrational side helps to understand other people better than using the mind alone (that’s called trusting your gut by the way, and I think it’s tragically underrated by those who only respect the mind). Last, but not least, accepting that side makes it have less power over me. And I think this is true for many other people.

And because of that, I’m all for dark, ugly art. I’m all for weird sexual fantasies. As long as you’re living a life of principles and integrity, that is 🙂 I don’t want people to just use their head when looking at my art – I want to make them feel something (with their gut or even heart), because art that leaves you indifferent also doesn’t make you think.

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