Whoosh! Issue 23 - August 1998

Letters To The Editor


Wed, 01 Jul 1998
Subject: Steve Sears interview

I just want to thank you for such an in depth interview with "The man" Steve Sears [Issue #22]. I've been pretty much lurking in the shadows as all of these controversies (Joxer, Rape, etc.) have been popping up. I tend to back away from such ridiculous arguments. Personally, I think people are taking things way out of hand and reading a bit too far into some stories...but I digress...

After reading your interview, I'm so glad to see Steve is still producing such great material. I love his use of double meanings, and knowing they are truly meant that way (as I learned from this interview) makes my anticipation even greater for his next episode. I can't believe some of the criticism I've seen as of late. Mr. Sears has such depth in his writing, and such meaning in each episode, I can't see how Xenites can be writing hate mail.

So thank you again, for showing Steve's side to such fan reaction, and especially for his thoughts on some of his episodes. It's always great to know that I'm not crazy when I pick things up in episodes; that the writers actually do have these things in mind. Hope to be reading another interview next issue, just think, two more issues before the season begins. And now, thanks to Steve's kind Renee teaser (Gee, thanks Steve) I'm gonna lose more sleep than I thought!


Thursday, July 16, 1998
Subject: Sears interview

It was illuminating to read Steven Sears' comments on XWP. Kudos to Bret Rudnick for a very thorough interview. I appreciate the 'dialogue' format you use for these interviews, but sometimes I wonder if less might not be more. That is, there were several places where I found myself confused by what seemed to be contradictory sentiments on the part of Mr. Sears.

First, when discussing "The Price", Sears states that he believes racism to be unjustified hatred that is rooted in blind ignorance, and that this is the attitude he wanted to model. He later expresses amusement that some people didn't 'get' the point, and implies that people who felt the Horde were dehumanised were, in fact, expressing exactly the kind of attitude he was trying to expose (i.e., racism). I find myself at a loss to understand how viewers who believed the Horde 'less-than-human' were doing anything other than buying Sears' own depiction of them. That is, Sears robs the Horde warriors of all motivation save want of a chilly skin of kaltaka and the goal to kill anything (non-Horde) that moves, but then says that the viewer (and Xena) is somehow at fault for hating them. So, is it that we despise the Horde and call them "animalistic" because we fail to appreciate their humanity, or do we despise them because Sears created a completely militaristic group who ax their leaders in the back when they fail to win a battle? In other words, are the Horde the bad guys or are we? Sears' comments on this matter are perplexing.

Another confusing bit is his remarks regarding Gabrielle's behaviour toward Joxer. In one breath he says Joxer is an "idiot" and in another says that Gab is being cavalier and dismissing in the way that "girls" do who miss the guys that fulfill everything they're looking for, even when the guy is standing right there. I don't completely understand the analogy, because it would seem to me that Gabrielle knows that Joxer is an idiot, and therefore her lack of consideration of him as a romantic partner is based on that -- rather than being a clueless dismissal of a guy who may possibly have the qualities she's looking for. In other words, I'm confused as to whether Sears thinks Gabrielle is (1) clueless or (2) looking for a bumbling idiot.

Now, besides being rather puzzled at times about where Mr. Sears was coming from, there were also places where I was just downright put-off. For example, despite his stories of supporting and defending fans to those who would slander our good name, Sears also shows, at times, what I feel is a disdainful attitude. He talks about "conspiracists", labels people's attitudes reactionary and ridiculous, and comments about what people "want to believe" when it comes to Salmoneus -- as if they have willfully denied some heretofore compelling evidence. Related to this, Sears has a penchant for advancing extremist, straw-man arguments when he wants to convince us of the rightness of his position and the wrongness of others'. There were many other, more widely-held objections to Joxer's behaviour in "Forget Me Not" than the radical "attempted rape" view, in the same way that many who called Gabrielle's violation by Dahak "rape" make a clear distinction between that event and the "forced pregnancy" and Mary examples. Yet Sears would presume to proclaim what "real rape" is and that Gabrielle being dragged across the ground kicking and screaming, held against her will and impregnated by a powerful, evil entity does not qualify. Dahak's assault may not be the same as that of the college guy in the dorm room, but neither is poisoning someone's drink the same as stabbing that person through the heart: That doesn't mean they're not both murder. Sears is, of course, entitled to his own opinion, but he would do well to afford others the same respect and not disparage and demean those who disagree with him.

As a side note, I take issue with Mr. Rudnick's labeling of groups of fans who hold similar opinions "camps", a negatively-charged term. I prefer interviews to be just a bit more objective, or at least to have a veneer of objectivity: When Mr. Rudnick is interviewing, he's representing fandom-at-large, not himself, and his disagreements with various fan reactions ought to be left at the door.

Finally, I feel compelled to make a comment about Sears' and other Xenastaffers' remarks concerning the subtext. In addition to the strange contradiction between recent proclamations that X&G's relationship is "not about sex" and increasingly bold onscreen innuendo inserted by the ("collaborative") writing staff, there also seems to be confusion about what fans mean by "subtext". If one were to take a gander at the various definitions and FAQs that touch upon this subject, what one would note almost immediately is that "romantic love" is the term of choice, and that any perceived sexual component to the relationship (note that not all 'subtexters' read X&G as being sexually involved) is viewed as an extension of that love. I wonder if a lot of people don't see the inherent heterosexism in these "It's not about sex, it's about love" sort of statements. That is, any deeply committed romantic relationship is first and foremost about love, and sex may be an extension/expression of that. Would Xenastaffers disclaim their marriages and relationships in the same way that they disclaim X&G? Why, then, is there this belief that when the topic is a same-sex relationship, that what fans are talking about is sex?


Wed, 01 Jul 1998
Subject: Whoosh! Interview with Steve Sears

That was one of the best articles I've read. As it is, I eagerly anticipate your interviews each month. Your questions are creative, they elicit wonderful explanations of terrific background information and they let us into the heads of the creators and collaborators of this magnificent program. I really enjoyed learning about Steve's background and his perspective on each of the shows he has worked on.

I love this show for the way it makes me feel and how I am drawn into the emotions of the characters. Then reading about the intentions of TPTB and knowing I fell right into their hands, pleases me, on some strange level.

I'm thinking specifically about the last 15 minutes of Deliverer and Gabby's death in Sacrifice 2. I was surprised by the intensity of my reaction to both of these episodes. The set up for the loss of Gab's blood innocence made me feel as if it were my own and then to lose Gabby herself, tore my heart out of my chest. I still haven't gotten the bloodstains out of the carpeting.

Paige Siskin

Wednesday, July 15, 1998
Subject: Letter for Whoosh

With regard to Steven Sears' comments about Gabrielle's rape in The Deliverer (Whoosh! #22), I have just a few things to say.

First of all, for those who are interested, here are the definitions ascribed to "rape" according to Webster's Dictionary: 1a) the crime of having sexual intercourse with a woman or girl forcibly and without her consent; 1b) any sexual assault upon a person; 2) the act of seizing and carrying away by force... 4) any outrageous assault or flagrant violation

So what qualifies the "sexual" aspect of an assault? Again, according to Webster's: 1) of, characteristic of, or involving sex, the sexes, the organs of sex and their functions, or the instincts, drives, behavior, etc associated with sex; 2) having sex; 3) designating or of reproduction by the union of male and female germ cells.

The iconography of rape that we were presented with in The Deliverer included:

1) Gabrielle being dragged, resisting and screaming, over a stone floor and then suspended on her back over a burning altar, with the attacker intending to use Gabrielle's body for his own purposes;

2) She was physically incapacitated (unable to resist; powerless to resist) at the time her "non-consensual violent impregnation" took place;

3) Her womb was violated -- yes, her womb, which is just as much a part of a woman's sexual organs as the vagina;

4) Her ovum was fertilized during this act of violation, which led to a pregnancy.

The above description is one of an act of rape. If it is not, then I would like to know what part of Gabrielle's experience did NOT qualify as rape. Because there was no penis involved? Any woman or man can be raped, and it doesn't take a flesh and blood penis or a beating to qualify the act. Neither does the experience of any one victim or a score of victims construct the only criteria by which any act of rape can be defined.

It would behoove XenaStaff not to take it upon themselves to redefine for society what does or does not constitute rape. Having made the decision to present us with an image of Gabrielle's sexual violation and violent assault, I fail to understand why they resist calling it exactly what it was: RAPE.

Kate Maynard

Wednesday, July 01, 1998
Subject: Whoosh! interview w/Steven Sears

I have nothing else to say except [to Bret that,]"YOU ARE THE MAN!!!" . . . actually I do have more...Thank You, Thank You...for bring us such an informative and extensive interview w/ Steven Sears. I had to stop what I was doing and focus on it and re-read a couple of portions. It was an excellent piece. It's unfortunate that Mr. Sears or anyone receives hate mail. Why even bother? (rhetorical question only). Though I still did not agree with the assessment of what happened to Gabrielle in "The Deliverer", I will admit my initial views were clouded by spoiler leakage. However, even after re-watching (as recently as two nights ago) I still get that pit in my stomach. Yes, I know it's a fantasy show but the feeling is still there.

Anyway, Kudos to the Interviewer and Interviewee ...Fabulous.


Wednesday, July 01, 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor (Sears Interview)

Where do I begin? It's interesting, I decided to quit watching the show after this season ended with no real resolution to the Gab drag or Gabrielle's rape.

If I pay any attention to official XWP announcements now it's generally because I am upset over their shameless marketing campaign of the above incidents (namely the CD cover and the Topps trading card). I fire off my obligatory letters to their vendors and lobby my friends not to buy any more of their stuff (the latter has worked by the way---a lot of people were buying just on general reputation alone and were quickly dissuaded by this season's synopsis). In short, I have buried my Xena obsession (outside of fan fiction).

Tonight, however, I decided to take a look at this interview since it's getting quite a buzz. Interestingly the first half, which focused on the first and second season was wonderful. Sadly it brought back every reason while I watched the show. I remembered the insightful writing, the strong characters, and the compassion that used to permeate the show.

Those warm feelings faded when I hit Mr. Sears' remarks regarding "The Quest" (my personal favorite). He seems to credit Bruce Campbell with being the best part of that show. Now I will be the first to say that Campbell did a great job, but I would say that because he stood back and let the show happen. Nor did I think his performance was any better than the other supporting actresses. Certainly it did not touch Renee's performance or even Michael Hurst's five minutes.

Sears remarks demonstrate the general revisionism I see coming from TPTB this season. Out of nowhere (as the ratings drop proves) they have concocted the fantasy that people tune into the Three Stooges redux. Somehow all we ever wanted to see was men running around making sexist comments, undressing the actresses, and generally hogging the scenes. Any feelings between the actresses had to be obliterated because that makes for "good drama." Amazingly they trashed the very thing that made them different -- not the subtext but the friendship. Sad, just very sad.

I am tired of trying to figure out -- tired of trying to speculate what threatened so much about their success that they had to toss it all away. Did they feel threatened by the often times better fan fiction? Did they think that by surrendering to the more conservative segments of their fan base -- heterosexuals good, lesbians bad -- they would garner more mainstream support? (Hmm, wonder how infanticide and rape work with that crowd?) Did they just never get it in the first place?

I'll never know and frankly "my dear(s) I no longer give a d*mn." (which I'll prove once they stop their marketing campaign).

Below are some specific comments I had to respond to.

[From the Sears' interview]

"But this is what I believe, and I firmly stand by this. I know rape victims. I have been involved with rape victims, in relationships with women who have been raped. Being supported on a pillar of fire while some mystical god impregnates a seed of a demon child inside of you is not rape. Talk to a rape victim and find out what real rape is. To me, it's disgusting to try to apply their torment to that act on television. That was a fictional fantasy. Sorry to be graphic, but having a man on top of you, forcing himself on you while you're screaming and perhaps even beating you to keep you quiet, that's rape. I refuse to use that word because it diminishes what the reality of the word is."

Let's keep this brief:

1. Mary consented (or did I miss something in my 11 years of parochial education?) NO MEANS NO and NON-CONSENSUAL SEX IS RAPE.

2. Anytime Mr. Sears wants to volunteer to be forcibly dragged across a burning altar, held down, and forcibly impregnated, he can talk to us about why it's not rape. In the meantime, I would suggest he change the subject to something about "them Stooges."

[More Sears' quotes]

"So that was the whole point of the Gab-Drag, to demonstrate, very brutally, obviously, the fact that these two people would kill each other. We had to wipe the slate clean."

Congratulations, you succeeded. Not only did you wipe away any memories of the first action show devoted to two women who cared for and respected each other, you also manage to set back the few efforts the media had made in highlighting the danger of domestic violence.

The only logical outcome to the gab drag would have been Gabrielle's death. Or did y'all miss the news out of Texas?

Cathy Daly

Wed, 01 Jul 1998
Subject: Steve Sears interview

Just finished reading [Bret Rudnick's] interview with Steven Sears in the latest Whoosh! . . . this is an excellent piece of work. I've always liked that [Bret's] interview style is unobtrusive and excels at drawing people out, but it's especially effective here because Steve is not a shy guy. I really enjoyed this and thought it very informative and enlightening. And, frankly, it made me rethink my stand on Sears' recent work, because I have not loved some of the stuff he's done this season. I didn't agree with everything he said, but I agreed with a lot more than I thought I would.

Thanks for this interview. I mean that deeply.

Ed Oshram@aol.com

Sent: Friday, July 03, 1998 2:08 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Steven Sears comments in his recent Whoosh! interview about rape were a masterpiece in the art of obfuscation, semantics and pure b*llsh*t. I am, as Rudnick put it, in the "rape camp."

Mr. Sears attempt to negate the views of those of us who see rape by saying that we diminish the experience of real life rape victims is pathetic. I guess if you can't come up with something legitimate, you may as well try to put the onus on your critics for daring to call it what it was.

Gabrielle was grabbed around her ankle by a tentacle of fire and dragged screaming to the altar where she was suspended, writhing, while tentacles of fire surged over, around and through her. This is rape by a god.

The only diminishment here is by TPTB. Their refusal to acknowledge what they did and deal with it responsibly by showing Gabrielle dealing with the psychological and emotional consequences of her rape is a disservice.

This sexual violence to women represents a fundamental change in the show.

Gabrielle's rape by Dahak is unforgivable.

We have seen the tired story of the victim of rape as somehow being at fault. After all how dare Gabrielle allow herself to be raped. How dare she give birth to the evil spawn of her rapist. How dare she then go against Xena (who is always right) and not commit infanticide.

When Gabrielle's Hope first aired, there was considerable debate about the nature of Hope. Was she evil incarnate and incapable of being anything else? With Gabrielle's influence, could she have been good?

TPTB stacked the deck against Gabrielle. Stewart has said he toned down Gabrielle's argument of the child's ability to be good in order to give more weight to Xena's position. "I couldn't make Gabrielle's argument too good..." R. J. Stewart in Chakram #2.

Joxer's attempted rape of Gabrielle in Forget Me Not is what made me hate the character. Until that episode he was merely an annoyance. In fact, my favorite episode of season 3 was Been There Done That, a Joxer episode. There is nothing noble about a character who totally ignores the express wishes of another to further their own delusional fantasies. He followed Gabrielle, spied on her, and when she was helpless to do anything about it, took her out of the temple. He then proceeded to fill her mind with trash about her past and his role in it. There is utterly nothing noble in these actions. This was most certainly a rape of the mind.

This wasn't the only attempted rape by Joxer. In that ridiculous episode Fish, Femmes and Gems, we got to see the truly repulsive sight of Joxer rubbing his naked body against Gabrielle and taking her off against her will to have "furious zug zug."

What is even more disturbing is that these two attempted rapes were played for laughs. Rape is not funny. The threat of rape is not funny. Taking advantage of a woman in a state of mental incapacity is not funny. Having someone rub their naked body uninvited against yours is not funny.

This represents another fundamental change in the show this season. The humor, instead of flowing from the characters and events, has become silly, slapstick, juvenile, sexist, and offensive.

The comments on subtext were less than reassuring. This season has seen a mockery made of the subtext. Liz Friedman made a comment to The Advocate magazine in either August or September of 1996 that Xena and Gabrielle were a butch-femme couple. In March of 1997 she told Entertainment Weekly: "I don't have any interest in saying they're heterosexuals. That's just b*llsh*t, and no fun, either." Where is Ms. Friedman? Haven't heard much from her lately.

We have had various others of TPTB tell us that, "Gabrielle satisfies Xena's every whim." "What they do off camera is their own business." And of course the ever popular, "People see what they want to see." In the same issue of Entertainment Weekly in which Ms. Friedman was quoted, Mr. Sears said "They have love for each other. It's up to the audience to determine what that love is."

Then the backpedaling started. Last summer we heard the "they like men" refrain from Robert Tapert and R J Stewart. Now we get from Mr. Sears the flat out assertion, "they're not having sex."

It's okay to show Xena having sex with Marcus with Gabrielle asleep a few feet away. It's okay to show Xena rooting around on a horse with Borias. It's okay to show Xena abusing Gabrielle by grabbing her by the hair and pulling her along by her shirt. It's okay to show the lurid over the top violence of the 'Gabdrag.' Show Xena making love to Gabrielle? No way. How sad.

I guess the subtexters have fulfilled their purpose in making this a hit and hip show, and now we can just go away. No problem.

The abuse this season has been of great concern to me also and represents yet another fundamental change in the show. TPTB have taken a relationship that was unique to TV and destroyed it. A relationship that had been the core of their show.

Leaving the issue of the 'Gabdrag' unresolved only reinforces the ignorant and dangerous views of some of their fans that Gabrielle "got what she deserved." No one deserves to be abused.

The impression TPTB have left the fans with is that violence is an acceptable way of resolving anger and other issues. This is in marked contrast to the first two seasons. Sure there was violence, but it was not as gratuitous or abusive.

This represents an unforgivable change in a show that prided itself on not featuring violence against women.

"She's [Xena] a different kind of hero. I think it's becoming a phenomenon for the '90s. We strongly oppose violence against women, we never play sexual violence, and it's degrading. The fastest-growing audience who are now taking control of the remote are women...This show has caught a wave." Lucy Lawless from THE DENVER POST, November 20, 1996, "It's no wonder this woman has become Xena: Worldwide Cult Queen," by Joanne Ostrow.

That wave has crashed upon the rocks of the degrading violence against women of this past season. Season 3 brought us rape, forced impregnation, mean spirited humor and abuse.

I thought I would give TPTB a chance to straighten out the mess they had made before I gave up on the show for good. They have not. I already have found my entertainment elsewhere and will continue to do so. I have no desire to watch this show drive itself even further into the ground.

These changes are so fundamental in nature as to make this show almost unrecognizable from what it was in the first two seasons. The message has changed from being a positive message of redemption, friendship, love, and fighting for the greater good; to being a disturbing message of violence and abuse against women.


Fri, 03 Jul 1998
Subject: The new Steven Sears interview.

I just wanted to drop you a line and thank you for bringing us the interview with Steven Sears! I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of what goes into making a series and a sneak peek into the future. You asked all the right questions and treated the whole thing well. This is rare especially if you watch the stars as they are interviewed on TV. Again, thank you for your work here.


Thursday, July 02, 1998
Subject: July Sears interview/spin doctoring

Well, between the interview with Mr. Sears, the recent TVGuide interview and the Entertainment Tonight cover story, I can only imagine that homophobia, or fear of backlash due to homophobia, is running rampant at Renaissance Pictures. Additionally, it would seem that TPTB are quite happily content with eradicating the old demographic in favor of the new.

But before y'all get your knickers in a twist, I am a married heterosexual male raised on war movies and red meat. I overemphasize for effect because that is exactly what Mr. Sears has attempted to do with his answers to the concerns of XWP fans...particularly those who aren't among the "chosen ones" of the new order. So, here goes -- for Mr. Sears, TPTB (collectively referred to as "you" and "your") and all the others who follow him like sheep to the slaughter....

Gabrielle was raped by Dahak...plain and simple.

Be a man and stand up for something. Even if you were wrong to begin with, admit it, don't try to cover it up with idiosyncrasies of plot and lies. You only make yourself look like a politician (i.e., a liar).

Check your dictionaries, check your mythologies, and check your history books. Your attempt to avert attention from the fact that Gabrielle was raped is as shallow as that of one who claims that Hitler's genocide of the Jews wasn't genocide at all, but something else.

I applaud TPTB attempts to try and give us drama akin to real life, but I spit on the result. Mr. Sears, your participation in this course of all things abominable to civilized society is, quite frankly, shameful. You and your accomplices give us issues to deal with, such as rape, forced pregnancy, threats of infanticide, lies, betrayals, physical and mental abuse, children killing children, a mother killing her child, torture and attempted murder of a best friend (and then having the unmitigated gall to utilize images of said attempt to make more money for yourselves).

Yet, you give us no resolution, no coming to terms with what happened, no emotional outbursts or sharing of feelings, hopes and fears that made XWP the great show it was. You give us a musical fantasyland where EVERYTHING is apparently solved. Sorry, but in good television shows, TPTB deal with what they have wrought. You people are acting like a child who throws a tantrum and hasn't a care for the consequences of his/her actions.

If you want to represent social issues, do so in a responsible manner. Otherwise you run the risk of being categorized along with Jerry Springer and B movies (not that this should offend Mr. Tapert or Mr. Raimi). And no, the attempt to tie up loose ends from Bitter Suite with Forget Me Not was not an admirable attempt at being socially responsible. You took the object of so much pain and violence and then turn her into a jealous shrew.

The feminist Icon, Xena: Warrior Princess, reduced to epitomizing Hollywood and societal stereotypes about women at their loathsome best.

And the subtext issue? Where do I begin? Or should I even bother? Suffice to say that you have played that winning hand out to its fullest extent and are now folding. Save the "some of my best friends are gay" excuses for those who are still fooled. You participated in a blatant and obvious attempt to use the emotions and aspirations of people to boost ratings and make money. For whatever reason, you have decided to cut bait on the most radical and welcomed presentation on television since Cagney & Lacey. You are correct, it is not about sex, it is about love. Whether or not Xena and Gabrielle are shagging is irrelevant. Love is about much more than that, and it knows no gender specific limits, contrary to bigoted, popular opinion. But then again, you never had a problem with dangling the proverbial carrot before the eyes of bisexual and lesbians fans for your benefit, did you?

As your co-conspirator, Mr. Tapert, stated in relation to the X&G subtext: "We plan to milk it for some -- if not all -- of what it's worth." Congratulations! You have succeeded in taking a great drama and turning it into a run-of-the-mill action show. I guess the virtues of the first two seasons (stopping the cycle of violence, friendship, redemption, dealing with your past) are truly forgotten -- replaced by revenge, retribution and a violence is the only answer mentality. Now, don't get me wrong, I like a good action show as much as the other person. Problem is, with the XWP I loved, action and violence took a back seat to human drama.

Perhaps the drop in ratings will make you see the error of your ways, perhaps not. Pat your egocentric, spin-doctoring selves on the back -- this former aficionado will not be there to witness the result of your warped machinations. You have succeeded in ostracizing the demographic you have targeted, and those in agreement with their beliefs. Good luck, because you will need it.

Isn't it ironic? Renaissance Pictures had, in its hands, something which could have brought about a new age of television. Instead, you have embraced the role of naysayer and left us all to rot in the Dark Ages.

Roger Duarte, aka RagnaROC

Sent: Thursday, July 02, 1998 12:41 PM
Subject: Letter To The Editor

There are so many parts of the Steven Sears interview that I want to challenge and comment on, but time, space, and my blood pressure will not allow.

So let me focus on two of the most irritating, and quite frankly, insulting and insensitive observations Sears made.

Regarding the issue of Gabrielle's rape in "The Deliverer": Yes, I am calling it rape because that is exactly what it was, Sears' contorted protestations to the contrary.

I refuse to go into a discussion of semantics here.

I will only say that watching a fearful Gabrielle trying to run away from Dahak's altar, gripped by her ankle and dragged back there, kicking, screaming, and begging for Xena to help her, then hoisted into the air above that altar, in a crucified position, head thrown back, gasping in pain while phallic tongues of flame writhed across every part of her body, then whispering weakly to Xena afterwards that "It hurts inside" all indicate very clearly to me that the bard was raped.

I find it bitterly ironic -- not to mention extremely hypocritical -- that Sears "graciously" consents to allow what happened to Gabrielle to be described as a "violation", but not a rape, when according to my battered old hardback copy of Webster's Dictionary, rape is one of the _DEFINITIONS_ of the word violation.

In Xena: Season Three we have seen rape, forced pregnancy, birth of a demon child, threats of infanticide, lies, betrayals, physical and mental abuse-most of it directed at Gabrielle, one child (Hope) killing another (Solon), a mother (Gabrielle) killing her child (Hope), Xena cold-bloodedly tracking down, attacking, torturing, then attempting to murder her best friend (Gabrielle), Gabrielle presented as a revenge hungry, jealous shrew who only wanted to see Xena suffer, and an overall appalling increase in violence in the series, again, most of it directed at Gabrielle.

This is the kind of lurid, _WAY_ over the top, massive overkill type of storytelling that one might expect to find on a low rated soap opera desperate to make "waves", not a show that was enjoying series best ratings during it's second year on the air.

As for Sears' comments that the Xena and Gabrielle subtext does not/should not have a sexual dimension, well, I find that yet another hypocritical component of TPTB thinking where Xena: Season Three is concerned.

Why is it acceptable for TPTB to show Xena and Borias rutting around on top of his horse, then have him brutally throw her to the hard ground after he's finished, yet showing Xena and Gabrielle sharing a genuine, loving kiss is verboten?

Why is it acceptable to have Joxer sing a song in Meg's whorehouse, accompanied by a prostitute chorus, boasting of his penis size and sexual prowess, even implying he loves a "good spanking" in an episode that also features crude jokes about masturbation, S&M, B&D, and even bestiality, yet the very slightest hint that there might be a sexual dimension to Xena and Gabrielle's relationship is shot down by Sears himself?

If even . . . Joxer can be depicted as having and enjoying a sex life, why refuse to apply the same dynamic to the Xena/Gabrielle relationship?

Because it's perfectly okay to have heterosexual standards pushed "in our face", but a full, natural, logical exploration of a love story between two women (Xena and Gabrielle) is out of the question?

Talk about a sexist/hypocritical double standard!

This is a hell of a far cry from Rob Tapert's early comment about the X&G relationship: "All I can say is that Gabrielle satisfies Xena's every whim."

But then again, Tapert made a comment last November that perhaps more accurately defines how TPTB look at the X&G subtext: "We plan to milk it for some-if not all-of what it's worth."

So perhaps TPTB have decided they no longer need us "nasty old" pro-subtexters to keep the "hot buzz" about the show going, which would account for recent comments from XWP writers and actors that the subtext is no longer a major-or minor-concern of theirs.

In other words, fellow pro-subtexters, we were used, and aren't needed anymore by TPTB.

Well, that's fine. The senseless, poorly plotted, sloppily written, and character assassinating "rift" pretty much destroyed the Xena and Gabrielle I fell in love with during the series first and second seasons.

The increasing inclusion of the intelligence insulting, sexist, oafish Joxer in both season three and for at least 11 episodes next season along with the continuing development of the horrid Gabrielle/Joxer romance have also cooled whatever passion I once had for this series.

And BTW, to answer the obvious question I'm sure most people reading this post have by now: No, I am not gay. In fact, I am a heterosexual male who loved, respected, and was deeply touched by the emotionally touching and true presentation of the X&G subtext/romance the first two seasons and who was not threatened by the concept of X&G as a romantic couple.

TPTB had a golden goose. Then they decided to kill it and dared us all to watch. Now they have the arrogance to wave the rotting carcass under our noses and tell us to take a deep sniff.

The ratings are already dropping on the show, at times approaching low first season numbers.

So I think I will take TPTB ultimate advice to anyone who dares find fault with them and their series: "Like it, or leave."

I'll be leaving, thanks very much, and also mourning over what the loss of what was, the tragedy of what is, and the poignant promise of what could have been.


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