The reasons why Cynder from the Legend of Spyro series doesn’t deserve all the hating she gets.
Let me start off by making one thing clear, the purpose of this paper is not to troll or to incite flame wars. The title of this paper says it all.
First a little background; Cynder is a young female dragon from the Legend of Spyro series. She’s the main villain in the first of the series, A New Beginning, a, more or less, sideline character in the second of the series, The Eternal Night (by which she only makes scarce and brief appearances), and is a heroine alongside Spyro in the third and final installment of the series, Dawn of the Dragon.
Her character history starts off by being stolen from the Dragon Temple as an egg by the primary antagonist of the series, Malefor. Using his dark powers, Malefor infused little Cynder with so much dark power that she literally grew, instantly, to an adult. Her mind warped by Malefor and the dark powers he had given her, Cynder served as Malefor’s agent in doing his evil biddings, until she was defeated in battle by none other than Spyro at the end of A New Beginning. Weakened by her battle with Spyro, a large portion of the dark powers given to her by Malefor left her, and she shrunk back down to her correct biological stage of a young whelpling. Spyro realized that Cynder had only done what she’d been doing because of Malefor’s influence over her. He took pity on her and, to the dismay of his lifelong dragonfly friend Sparx, brought her back to the relative safety of Dragon Temple. When little Cynder had recovered from her wounds, and knowing what she’d done in the past, felt as though she didn’t belong among civilized dragons. She left the Temple and disappeared, only to be rescued by Spyro once again at the end of The Eternal Night, in which Gaul, the Ape King, intended to re-corrupt Cynder and return her to the side of Malefor. As Gaul’s fortress collapsed around them, Spyro, Cynder, and Sparx were unable to escape, so Spyro concentrated all of his energy into encasing himself and his two friends in solid crystal, where they remained frozen for three years.
As fate would have it, Malefor’s minions discover them in the ruins of Gaul’s fortress, and break the crystal they were encased in, but instead of dragging them back to their master’s lair, they chain them together with a magic necklace type amulet, which only Malefor can remove. While the reason for this is never fully explained, it is implied that the necklace is meant to bring Spyro and Cynder closer together, so that Spyro might feel more betrayed when Malefor tries to claim that Cynder had been working for him the whole time, even though in truth she wanted nothing more to do with him for what he’d done to her. This plan of Malefor’s backfires, and, together, Spyro and Cynder succeed in defeating him, after which, Cynder professes her love for Spyro. Spyro never actually does reveal his true feelings for Cynder in the game, but it is implied that he loves her back, and the series closes with the two of them happily flying through the air together.
Now why is all that important? It’s important because a character’s history is a major and necessary aspect one must look at in order to make a critical assessment of whether or not they deserve the attention they get from fans, and the hating the get from non fans.
There are several key arguments that non-fans of Cynder make when they express their distaste of her, and one of them doesn’t even have the slightest thing to do with the Cynder concept itself, the voice actor (actors actually) for her. I’ll tackle that one first.
As the Cynder character changes with each game in the Legend of Spyro series, particularly her anatomy: an adult in the first game, a young whelpling (child but not a teenager) in the second game, and a juvenile dragon (teenager if you will) in the last. This made it necessary to have different voice actors for her, and all of them did a nice job. They were very believable and a nice fit for the character.
A second claim that non-fans of Cynder make is that she’s a Mary Sue. Now, according to wikipedia.com, a Mary Sue is a fictional character that is overly idealized and with clichéd behavior patterns, or mannerisms. Non-fans accuse Cynder of being emotionless, with a clichéd personality, sassy and full of herself. Ironically, this description matches pretty well with some of the claims the non-fans make: clichéd, sassy, and being generally condescending to all who don’t think as they do. Cynder may have had moments where she came off as sassy, but hey, everyone has those moments, for some people they are more frequent than others, and for some it’s even a lifestyle. This makes it very unfair for non-fans of Cynder to bash on her for something THAT WE ALL DO.
Due to Cynder’s past, other characters are quick to judge and demonize her, and few of them seem the least bit interested in understanding that Malefor was controlling her against her will. However clichéd it may be, it seems only perfectly logical that if everyone around her were being that way towards her, then she would feel unwelcome, and compelled to leave. Despite Spyro and a few others wanting to forgive and forget, and do their best to show they care about her, love from a few stands little chance against scorning from the rest. Sure, Cynder’s feelings are clichéd, but they are perfectly believable, and non-fans who bash on her for it are quick to ignore the clichéd feelings of everyone else, picking her out of the crowd, simply because she’s one of the characters in the spotlight, and therefore, easier to nit-pick about.
The following is something that everyone could do well to remember: Artists and authors have been generating characters and stories for thousands of years. Whether it is through a painting, a carving, a book, it doesn’t matter. We’re in 2010. It stands to reason that after thousands of years, most if not everything has been done. It is almost no longer possible for anyone to come up with a completely 100% original idea, and if they do, then fantastic, but the point remains that calling something cliché no longer has the impact it use to. Someone could even say that, calling something cliché is cliché.
A third thing that non-Cynder fans have used to hate on her is that her body is overly idealized. Some of them have even gone so far as to call her “slut” or “bitch”, not joking! The claim that Cynder’s body is overly idealized: skinny, perfectly curvy, all in all a female with a perfect figure, has merit, but this merit is greatly diminished by the fact that, so are all the other characters in the game, and so are many characters in just about every other video game ever made. None of the characters within the game have anything physically abnormal about them. They are all in perfect health. So to complain about one character being idealized, when they are all idealized, is ridiculous.
It’s commonplace for a video game’s characters to be idealized, just look at games like Team Ninja’s, “Ninja Gaiden 2”. While I like that game, it’s main protagonist, a man named Ryu Hayabusa (who sounds remarkably American for having grown up in Japan) is well toned, muscular, and all around the ideal male body type. His helper, for lack of a better word, is a woman named Sonya, whom herself is idealized: short, petit, curvy, big breasts, all in all the ideal female body type.
That’s just an example from one game. There’s far to many to mention here, but the point is still the same. Why is it okay for female human characters to be idealized, but it’s not okay for a female dragon character to be idealized? Why is it okay for some characters to be idealized but not okay for others to be idealized? Refer to an earlier paragraph if it helps to see this in a more critical manner. Is it because people know humans exist, but believe dragons don’t? Have any of the Cynder haters bashing on her for her idealized body actually SEEN a real live female dragon? Assuming they haven’t, then what claim do they have regarding as to what an idealized dragon would NOT look like? How can one know what something or someone DOESN’T look like if they’ve never seen one? The answer is simple, they can’t. The point of the matter is this: Cynder is a fictional character that lives in a fictional world that is NOT Earth or even based off of Earth. In Spyro’s universe, perhaps it’s normal for a female dragon Cynder’s age to have the body figure she does. Who knows? It is a work of fantasy, and anyone who knows anything about works of fantasy, knows that different worlds might have different laws, and looking at any work of fantasy or fiction from an earthly perspective is the quickest way to be disappointed by it.
In regards to Cynder haters going so far as to call her “slut” or “bitch”, this insult on her couldn’t be more hateful and ignorant. Cynder has a nice body, so that automatically makes her a “slut” or a “bitch”? Apparently these extreme Cynder haters didn’t follow the story or the plot of the Legend of Spyro one bit. NOWHERE in any of the three games did Cynder EVER come across as a “slut” or a “bitch”, nor was the very idea ever brought up in the course of the games. Nowhere did Cynder ever act in a seductive or even slightly in a sexual way. Nowhere did she ever say anything that was intended to be seductive or sexual. So to call her “slut” or “bitch”, when everything Cynder says and does in the Legend of Spyro games contradicts such a hateful accusation, is wrong, and completely unfounded.
The final segment of hating that Cynder gets from non-fans is from those who are fans of Ember from earlier Spyro games for the Playstation. In those games, Ember appeared only very briefly, an appearance that was equaled in scale only by her complete obsession with Spyro. She LOVED him, loved him so much that she stalked him and made him very uncomfortable, so it’s no wonder that he didn’t fall for her, but her obsession for Spyro is not the problem with the claim the non-Cynder fans make; The problem is that she has no specific past, and because the game developers did not give her a definitive history, people are able to give her a history of their own making. In and of itself, giving a character you like a history you create for them is not in any way wrong, but what usually happens with the Ember side of the Ember vs. Cynder debate, since she was not given any specific or definitive history, Ember fans will concoct some history for her that would make her appear to be superior to Cynder in every way possible, all the while using the “she has no history so I can make one up” scapegoat to attempt to justify that “Ember rules Cynder drools” mindset.
The needle in that haystack is the fact that everyone has a history. People want “real”? Here it is: Ember has no “real” history. When it comes to storytelling, Ember is less like a “real” person and more like a role-playing fantasy character. Simply create a history for her, insert yourself into that history, and boom, you’re Ember, or her love interest, or her hero, etc. This is not the case with Cynder. Cynder has a specific and definitive history to her character. That alone makes her more “real” than Ember. While I like the Ember character, in a storytelling sense, Cynder is more “real” than she is.
So there you have it. It is absolutely pathetic that so many people out there, on both sides of the like/dislike fence, to attack each other over something they understand nothing about. So for all you Cynder haters out there, take some time to reflect and actually understand what it is you’re hating on before you continue to make yourselves look foolish.