From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The New York Nutballs
From the Managing Editor: The New Joxer Wars
From the Webmaster: Xena Palace Opening
From the Editor-in-Chief: Whoosh! Staffer Makes Good
From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The New York NutballsBefore I begin my editorial, I want to express my thanks to my graphics assistant, Christine Kearns. Chris supplies me with many of the images I use in illustrating Whoosh! articles, and she sometimes does this on extremely short notice when I want a particular image. Chris does this skillfully and cheerfully, and almost never smacks me upside the head for it. We now return you to your regularly scheduled editorial...
On Saturday, 18 April, I attended the Second Annual New York City XenaFest.
Not that I need much of an excuse to visit New York -- it's a fabulous town and I always have a great time whenever I visit. But the prospect of meeting fellow fans and Internetties simply adds to the experience.
Fests are different from conventions. Whereas conventions are run by corporations who want to make money from the event, fests are run by fans alone and usually are non-profit. In fact, the NYC2 fest raised just under $5,000 for charity.
Last year about 250 people attended the NYC Xenafest. This year that number was down to about 150. Both of these are intimate gatherings by convention standards, and that is one of the appealing things about fests -- it's easier to mingle with other guests without getting lost in a huge crowd. One can speak to more people and take longer at it. There isn't a lot of pressure (or expense) to get good seats for high-profile guests, either.
The NYC fest itself had a variety of events to appeal to fans. There were episodes to see, and some favourite fan-produced music videos too. There were even events specifically for kids, such as the chakram/ bagel toss, and the squid toss. Amusingly enough, the squid toss became a rubber-chicken-and-other- sundry-objects-toss. It seems there was a run on rubber squid in New York that weekend. Apparently there was a hockey team in town which has a tradition such that when their team scores a goal, squid are tossed out onto the ice. New York has an ordinance against tossing real squid onto the ice (New York has an ordinance against most things) hence the shortage of the rubber variety. Not to have the fun dampened, substitutes were found.
I had Amazon-related business to attend to for part of the afternoon, so I missed the skit, Rob Weisbrot's presentation (he wrote the Official Guide to the Xenaverse), and the charity auction. I had seen Rob at other events, though, and was fortunate enough to chat with him at other times, I saw the skit in rehearsal, and I had no money for the auction, so that worked out pretty well.
A "must see" that I was able to attend was the presentation by Laura Irvine and Cynthia Cooper on Hong Kong films and some similarities between them and XWP. It was a very well assembled presentation and I thoroughly enjoyed it. As a fan of Japanese films and television, it was also interesting to note some of the very stark differences between the genres, as well as similarities.
SAL_FAN hosted the trivia competition, which was a lot of fun. I had prided myself at past conventions and fests on knowing much of the trivia question answers as I sat and watched, but this time, I was stumped far more often than not. SAL_FAN did a great job, and the panel were very good sports too.
There were "Xena Yell" and "Joxer Theme Song Singing" competitions that could only be described as tremendous fun. The audience cheered and applauded throughout, as they did for the costume competition as well.
Betsy Book, Tom Simpson, Dragon Lady, Rinah, Mistopholees, and Michele did an excellent job of organising everything. Betsy hosted many of the morning events, and Ed "Oshram" hosted many of the afternoon events. I'm sure I left many things out, but I can't think of anything that went particularly wrong or badly (with the possible exception of the fact there was no phone line in the room as the hotel had previously promised, so an interactive Internet demonstration for the afternoon had to be canceled).
But with all that complimentary stuff said, there was a definite change in the air from last year. Part of it might have been due to about a hundred fewer attendees, but part of that was also due to what I perceived as a collective sense of weariness. People just seemed exhausted. Some of that had to do with the roller coaster that has been Season Three. Some of that was just a "loss of steam" by some fans. People were still polite, courteous, deferential, and so forth, but they also seemed like they could use a vitamin and a nap. People just seemed mentally tired. Because there were so many familiar faces, many of us already knew where we stood as regards preferences of episode, characters, writers, and such. But we've also gotten a bit more introspective, it seems. There was a look in the eyes of many that longed for a return to what excited people early on in the show. A look of fire in the eyes of many had given way to an almost quiet resignation. "You can't unscramble an egg," an Auntie of mine used to say, and she'd have that same look in her eyes as well.
Then again, maybe it was just the dim lighting in the hall.
April 20, 1998
From the Managing Editor: The New Joxer WarsI don't like conflict. In fact, I avoid it at all costs. So why the heck have I decided to write an editorial like this? I feel like I'm putting a big bulls-eye on my forehead. I think I need to explore these masochistic tendencies of mine.
I once swore that I would never get involved in the Joxer Wars. Oh how quickly I forget. But I feel a little better because this is about the NEW Joxer Wars. Didn't know there was such a thing? Where the heck have you been? It's all around - on the newsgroups, the mailing lists, the net forum. Ever since the announcement of Ted Raimi signing a 22-episode contract, the wagons have been circling. Only this time there is a new troop -- the pro-Joxer element is not standing on the sidelines this time, they are fighting back. But are they just falling into the trap that the anti-Joxer brigade fell into during the first Joxer War?
The anti-Joxer brigade lost a lot of credibility because it turned personal. Charges of nepotism, personal attacks on Ted Raimi and general nastiness abounded. Once that happens you lose your edge and your arguments -- as good as they may be -- are not accepted, specifically because of how you put them across. The current pro-Joxer brigade is falling into the same trap. They are coming across as sore winners. The pro-Joxer fans are starting quite a bit of the current Joxer wars. It's like poking a wounded animal -- you are gonna get bit. Then you can stand back and act shocked and righteous - "See they are dangerous."
There also seems to be a concerted effort on the part of the pro-Joxer brigade to shame all those who don't like or ignore the character. Fanfic authors -- especially Alt. Fanfic -- have been receiving letters chastising them (sometimes nicely...sometimes not so nicely) for (a) not putting Joxer in their stories and (b) for writing about Xena and Gabrielle as a couple.
I really wish I liked Joxer. I'm totally serious about that. If this character is going to become so ingrained in my favorite show, I wish I liked him so my enjoyment would not be tempered. The main Joxer storyline seems to be his love for Gabrielle. Why does Joxer love Gab? That is a storyline that didn't develop, it just became. No why, no how. Suddenly in COMEDY OF EROS Joxer was a lovesick puppy. How have we seen Joxer express his love since then? By frequenting a brothel (WARRIOR... PRIESTESS... TRAMP), imagining three naked Gabrielle's (THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER) and kidnapping and lying (FORGET ME NOT).
I thought about the other frequent supporting characters that have appeared on XWP. Why is it only Joxer that elicits such vehement dislike? You don't hear many complaints about Callisto or Ares or Autolycus or Ephiny or Salmoneus? Why is it that the one character that makes otherwise healthy, non-violent people wanna go postal is the one character that is becoming a co-star... not a guest star. Before I start getting hate mail (which I'm sure I'll get anyway), I just wanted to state that I personally don't have a problem with Ted Raimi. I can differentiate between the character and the actor who plays him.
I'm going to conclude by including a message from a HCNB. I had asked a group of people what they thought of Joxer. I just wanted some additional feedback and ideas. I thought this one was appropriate so I decided to include it in its entirety.
"There are at least two reasons why I find the Joxer's character offensive. The first reason has to do with the type of comic relief the character provides, slapstick. And second, I find him to be a very intrusive, obnoxious male, interfering with the interactions between Xena and Gabrielle in particular, and with the story in general. There are enough boys of the week without the boy of the season(s).Stacey Robillard
THE COMEDY ISSUES:
The show presents many different types of comedy. When Joxer is not in the episode, the comedy is usually done with style, wit, intellect, subtle nuances and good acting. The comic relief ranges from an appropriately raised eyebrow to slapstick. I found this definition of slapstick at the following site:SLAPSTICKThis definition seemed closer to the reason why I don't find Joxer funny. With slapstick, one does not have to think the character makes no intellectual demands on the audience to get the joke. It is an easy, proven standby - character falls down or runs into a wall or gets hit in the balls - audience laughs. Why should the writers bother to put in the amount work required to create a more subtle, demanding type of comedy when the audience may not even appreciate it? It is so easy with slapstick, the audience gets to see a bumbling, inept simpleton fail again, maybe reinforcing the belief in our own superiority, or perhaps giving those of us who are bumbling, inept simpletons the false hope that we, too, may get to pal around with the Warrior Princess.
A movie genre relying on people getting into physically awkward situations to create humor. Involves stumbling, crashing into things and accidental loss of clothing as common style elements. Plays with the human desire to see other people fail. A program designed just to entertain the viewer, with no higher purpose in mind. Does not necessarily have any cultural or informational value. Usually low reuse value because parts of the program cannot easily be taken out of the context, but also low effort in documentation because of the homogeneous structure.
In my opinion, the staff of XWP has, for the most part, done an excellent job of producing a show that appeals to an audience varying widely in age, education, political opinion, sexual proclivities and religious beliefs. They seem to have little interest in pandering to any particular segment of the audience - the exception being the overuse of Joxer - which seems to me to be a blatant appeal to the adolescent mind. It is similar to anticipating seeing a production of Romeo and Juliet only to find out Jerry Lewis is playing Romeo. Kind of ruins the whole thing.
It's not that I don't like slapstick -- it can be funny when unexpected such as the scene in ADITL when Gabrielle was repeatedly hit in the face with the fish. However, when you absolutely KNOW that it's coming it is just not that funny. Okay, here's Joxer, time for the slapstick humor. I have come to expect a much higher level of writing, acting and entertainment from the show and its staff.
They do, however, seem to have justification for their use of slapstick- maybe even for some of the S&M scenes that sneak their way in. It appears that the slapstick did originate with the Greeks:
What is slapstick?THE SUBTEXT ISSUES:
Believe it or not, the slapstick is probably the oldest prop used by comic actors. The earliest known use of the lender two-part mock sword was in the early Greek farces in the 4th Century B.C. The slapstick consists of two thin strips of hardwood joined together by a handle and separated by a spacer. When expertly applied to an unsuspecting bottom, the two wooden strips slap together emitting a loud "thwack" to a chorus of squeals uttered by the victim.
I find it interesting that there seems to be the assumption that if one doesn't like Joxer then one must be a Lesbian or at least a subtexter. However, since I don't like Joxer and I am a Lesbian who appreciates the subtext, how can I protest the assumption. The subtext, however, is not the only reason I enjoy watching the show. I appreciate the two strong female leads, Xena's quest for redemption, Gabrielle's growth, the villainous Callisto, Xena's many skills, the complete abandonment of any historical or mythological accuracy-I enjoy their pushing the envelope.
I became an even more devout and obsessed fan of the show (if that's possible) when those associated with the production acknowledged the Lesbian fans and the existence of subtext in the show. They did not try to distance themselves from us and our support and enjoyment of the show. An appropriate quote comes from Vito Russo's The Celluloid Closet. Buck Henry, who is playing a gay lawyer in The Man Who Fell to Earth, asks "Why is my character gay? Why am I playing a homosexual?" Nicholas Roeg, the director, replies "Why not? There are homosexuals." However, for most Lesbians there is always the fear that maybe this will be the last show that contains any subtext - maybe they really will destroy the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. After all, most mainstream movies and TV shows that purport to be Lesbian in content always seem to have a convenient male to swoop in and show the appropriate member of the Lesbian couple how misguided she is and how much better off she would be to pair off with him.
And after reading comments like *we don't want to alienate any faction of our audience* -- I hear something like *if the heterosexual faction protests too much we WILL have to change the Xena-Gabrielle thing*. Here, again, is where Joxer comes in. Not that he is ever going to be the male who will capture the hearts of one of the female leads (may the gods save us), but he is a definite intrusion into the Xena-Gabrielle dynamic, a major distraction to the delightful interaction between X and G.
But let's pretend that there is no subtext, that there is only a deep and caring friendship. Joxer still does not fit into the story. He is and always will be a major distraction not an addition to the ongoing theme of the show. He is a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. He does nothing to help the progress of the storyline, he doesn't fill in any blanks, he doesn't answer any questions, he doesn't do anything other than show us that even Xena can show some compassion for a poor, pathetic loser. Anyway, I do like characters in the show other than Xena and Gabrielle. I am not offended when the episode includes Ares, Salmoneus or Autolycus or countless other male characters. They enhance not demean the story. I do enjoy both the dark episodes and the light episodes, at least until this season when the comedies, which included Joxer, lowered themselves to basic locker room humor. Thus, I now much prefer the darker storylines, where Joxer is not present."
April 20, 1998
From the Webmaster: Xena Palace OpeningHideeho, Whoosh! fans. Did you know that May 1, 1998 is more than just the premiere of our twentieth issue (yep -- we've made it to our twenties!)? In celebration of the Generation X period of Whoosh!, we are happy to announce our latest online fan project: a graphical chat environment called "Xena: Warrior Palace." This is a joint venture with Tom's Page and SRT Enterprises. Many of you may be familiar with the "Palace" software from your non-Xenite Internet exploits. For those of you who aren't, take it from me--this is *really* cool stuff. If you are into online chatting and hanging out with other Xenites on IRC or AOL (I feel your pain), this is going to be your dream come true. If you have avoided chat spaces like the plague for whatever reason, now is the time to put your fears/prejudices aside. As Mikey once said, "Try it, you'll like it!"
The reason that *our* chat space is so cool is that.... well... it's got lots of pretty pictures. The interface is completely graphical, meaning that each of the rooms has an illustrated setting, and each guest is represented by an "avatar." When you say something, the text appears in a balloon over your avatar's head. You can also carry objects around with you (like chakrams, perhaps) and give them to other people.
We are going to have regular Whoosh!-sponsored events in Xena: Warrior Palace, like chats with authors of our articles and chats with Laura Sue Dean. Our first big event will be our grand opening party on May 16, 1998, time TBA. For more information about how to join the fun, click here for our Palace info page. Hope to see you there!
Brooklyn, New York
April 26, 1998
From the Editor in Chief: Whoosh! Staffer Makes GoodIf you haven't heard yet, Whoosh! Senior Staff and Editor, Bret Rudnick was an extra in XWP's SACRIFICE I, which will be released 05/04/98. He plays a priest/monk kind of guy with a pointy head, er, hat...whatever. This may be the Bretster's dramatic debut, so be nice.
Kym Masera Taborn
April 27, 1998