To write to the editor regarding your comments, observations, and questions about Whoosh!, send an e-mail to email@example.com and mark the subject "Letter to the Editor". All letters with the subject "Letter to the editor" are subject to publication and may be edited. Due to the volume received, some letters may not be answered individually or receipt acknowledged.
Xena And Gabrielle Ain't No Steed And Mrs. Peel
Nomads And THE DEBT
Toy Biz Blows It With Gabrielle Figure
Gabrielle And Some Other Things
That Darn Last Issue
That Darn Episode Guide
That Darn Last Issue II
Xena And Gabrielle Ain't No Steed And Mrs. PeelTuesday, July 21, 1998
Subject: letter to the editor
I very much enjoyed the comparisons between XWP and The Avengers which Kathleen Daye observed in her 'Tall Dark and Deadly' piece for issue 22 as The Avengers has long been a favourite series of mine.
I felt that one section needed some expansion - that of the partners' positions in the two series. John Steed is not to Emma what Gabrielle is to Xena.
There is a marked difference in the role of Steed in The Avengers and Gabrielle. While Gabrielle is the willing accomplice, the novice or assistant, Steed however is the (nominally) dominant partner. Nominal because clearly they are equals. Rather, it is Emma Peel who is the enthusiastic amateur while Steed is the professional spy. He is the one on a mission (and it is one of the strengths of the series that we meet them at the start of each episode on the job and not about to be despatched) while Emma is involved because Steed is involved or he has asked her, "Mrs. Peel, we're needed".
Emma is given a background which suggests she has a life other than her work with Steed. We often see her at 'work' reading or chiselling a sculpture which is interrupted by her work with Steed, especially in the colour Diana Rigg season. Rarely do we see Steed in any other role other than his professional one - the focus of The Avengers. Steed also has a few tricks up his sleeve learned from his years in the field which he employs when necessary. There is the marvellous remove-the-pea-before- the-axe-descends' scene in 'A Touch of Brimstone' and the way he defeats Emma in fencing with foils in 'Town of No Return'. "That's very, very dirty", she complains after he twirls her into the curtain.
The balance of the relationships is an important difference between the two series. Steed and Emma are closer, too. If you watch carefully there almost always is a glance between them which is instantly understood, an unspoken instruction which is vital to the situation in which they find themselves. They share an innate understanding which is borne of a match of intellects, skills, experience and mutual affection (see also Emma's parting scene in 'Forget Me Knot').
It is instructive to view the final season of The Avengers with Linda Thorsen. In Diana Rigg's absence the balance is changed to be closer to the Xena/Gabrielle relationship seen in Xena. The partners are no longer equal and Tara King is the novice learning from one she regards and admires as the epitome of skill. Steed, like Xena, didn't want the encumbrance of an acolyte but quickly came to value her even if they never became equals and she worked less closely with him than did Emma. Steed became the centre, Tara the satellite.
In this regard Xena and Gabrielle are further apart than Emma and Steed. Gabby is still learning, although swiftly, but is the junior partner of the two.
Nomads And THE DEBTSunday, August 02, 1998 6:51 AM
Subject: Letters to the Editor - Nomads and The Debt
Excellent article by Steve Richey on the Asian nomads and 'The Debt' (Issue #23, August 1998).
There's just one apparent mis-statement in his article, and I'm sure it just arises from a slip in the wording.
He says, "Think of the landscape shown in THE DEBT. This is where these tribes lived and where the remnants of these tribes still live today".
Before any Whoosh! readers conclude that current-day New Zealand Maori, including extras on the XWP cast, are descended from Mongolians (**), I'll point out that, so far as I can tell, the scenery is part of the 'New Zealand Tourist Board's Obligatory Five Minutes'. Although I can't, to my annoyance, positively identify the mountains in the background, I suspect it's around the 'Desert Road' near Mt Tongariro in central North Island, or on the high plains of the Kaimanawas east of there (half way between Lake Taupo and the sea, for possessors of atlases). The land is 2000 - 3000 feet above sea level, and so was never covered in bush like most of New Zealand. The New Zealand Army uses part of this area for exercises, for obvious reasons.
Alternatively, the scenery could be in South Island, where there is much more extensive high "tussock" country like that, but it would've cost RenPic much more to travel down there to film, so I'll stick with my first guess.
These high plains are (unlike the steppes) very limited in extent so could never have supported horse-mounted nomads, and in any case horses didn't arrive in New Zealand until Europeans brought them.
I think Steve Richey meant "landscape _like this_ is where these [nomad] tribes lived", which I'm sure is correct.
'Spot-the-scenery', incidentally, is a minor pastime of local Xenawatchers.
(**) Note: NZ Maori, being Polynesians, are in fact descended from South-East Asian peoples, but by a process stretching back many thousands of years and involving migrations across most of the Pacific.
The InternetSaturday, July 25, 1998 11:19 PM
Subject: Xena: Warrior Princess On The Internet
Becky Harlow's article ["Xena: Warrior Princess on the Internet", issue #22, July 1998] seems well-researched but I haven't heard that the Internet is yet considered a public forum under US Law. Access to it is via private accounts. The advent of "Internet Cafes" may have changed that but I haven't come across any legal opinions posted on the Web which indicate this is so. If you know of any sources, I'd appreciate your passing them on to me for inclusion on the Xenite And Herkulean Webmasters Association resources page, if you don't mind.
Also, copyright is not being violated by fannish sites as much as trademark is. Trademark issues are part of what led Viacom to clamp down on fannish Web sites. If a trademark owner doesn't move to protect the trademark, they'll lose it. Unlike copyright, trademark is a commodity -- anyone can grab the IBM trademark if they don't act to renew it every time the trademark expires. In general, more money is made through trademark ownership than through copyright ownership. This is probably not the case with the movie/television industries, where the copyrighted works are distributed through high-revenue channels. Trademarks are used to generate revenues in secondary markets (such as licensing action figures, comic books, books, etc. -- but some of these may result in additional copyright revenues).
My guess is that one of the considerations that Universal's legal department may be making is the sheer size of the Hercules/Xena online presence. At Xena Online Resources we list over 1100 resources, the vast majority of them (over 900) being URLs to various Web sites. And we list only Web sites which meet certain minimal criteria. There are many other sites out there which never get listed by us because all they contain are a few links and maybe 1 or 2 pictures with no real content. I believe there may be in excess of 2,000 Web sites which utilize Universal's trademarks or copyrights by making use of the names, logos, or other trademarked properties associated with the shows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess.
Xena Online Resources and Hercules Ultimate Guide strive to recognize fannish sites with content. Yet even working within our guidelines, we provide overwhelmingly superior resources for fans who are seeking the Web sites. The search engines and indexes like Alta Vista and Yahoo! typically show 200 or fewer sites. Policing the online community would be a monumental task even if Universal's attorneys restricted their searches to the Hercules/Xena-specific indexes.
We update Xena Online Resources twice a month and it usually takes 10-12 people to get the task done over a period of several days. We check URLs, look for substantial new content, and ensure that our descriptions are up-to-date. This immensely time-consuming work would be greatly expanded if we (or anyone conducting similar reviews) were to look for copyright or trademark violations. Pursuing the violators would require even more time and effort.
I've never received confirmation of this from Universal. It would not be in their best interests to discuss their reasons for not enforcing their rights on a widespread basis, other than to state the policy that you cited. I've seen that statement before, but it's not saying much. There is, in fact, a much more comprehensive statement by Universal on the Web concerning what is and is not acceptable use of their properties. I'm sure that most Webmasters have never seen it, do not know about it, and would be appalled at what it says with respect to the materials that they include on their sites.
In general I applaud your article and when I get a chance will add a link to it on the XHWA resources page. I'm a strong believer in helping to educate our fellow Webmasters about copyright and trademark law.
Next month's issue of Whoosh! (OCtober 1998, #25) will contain an article about copyright law and how it affects fans.
Sears InterviewSunday, August 16, 1998
Subject: Sears Interview
Don't know if you follow the newsgroups, so I just wanted to thank you for the Sears interview (Whoosh! #22, July 1998). It was good to see what they were thinking when they did the GabDrag. That cleared up a lot of angst about how far they wanted to take the Xena-goes-after-her-best- friend thing, and whether to be concerned about it in the future. It was a fascinating piece. Thanks. Bright Blessings
Toy Biz Blows It With Gabrielle FiguresThursday, July 30, 1998
Subject: Gabrielle Toy figure from Toy Biz
I have purchased my six inch Xena, Gabrielle, and Callisto figures and I am appalled at the weaponry Toy Biz has packed with Gabrielle. She has her staff, a dagger, an axe and a bow and arrows. Good grief! Was it not enough that we had to see poor Gab raped, dragged and stabbed this past season? Now we have to see her accessorized with more hardware than GI Joe? How did this happen? If little gadgets are what kids like to play with (the box say ages five and up) why not pack her with her staff, her Gab bag, some scrolls, a quill, a fishing poll, her lamb Xena gave her for Solstice and her beloved frying pan? Does it always have to be the tools of violence? That is not what Gabrielle is all about! I am shocked this was allowed to be.
Gabrielle And Some Other ThingsSaturday, July 25, 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor
I've read some of the controversy on Whoosh! over parts of XWP, particularly involving Gabrielle and Joxer. It amazes me that fictional characters can generate such heat. The most common themes seem to be that (a) Gabrielle's character isn't consistently or fairly treated and (b) Joxer is a pest (or worse).
Anyway, at the risk of stepping on all sorts of landmines, I'll venture a few thoughts on the positions the characters occupy in the ecology of XWP, and the effects on their existence.
Why is Gabrielle there at all? Well, because it seems to be almost a law of nature that the hero needs a sidekick. Consider almost any long-running action series - Batman and Robin, The Lone Ranger and Tonto, John Steed of The Avengers and Emma Peel (though in that case Emma became the more interesting character and the series went flat when she left), Hercules and Iolaus, and so on and so on.
As a dramatic device, the sidekick is necessary for the hero to talk to, relax with, explain things to, bring useful bits of information. If Gabrielle didn't exist, it would be necessary to invent her. It's extremely rare (and probably dramatically impossible) for the two main characters on the same 'side' to be almost the same dramatic strength. If this happens then (as in The Avengers) the sidekick may in effect become number one and the 'hero' is relegated to no. 2 status.
Obviously, in Xena, this isn't likely to happen. The only way for Gabrielle to equal Xena would be to have yet another spin-off series, "Gabrielle - Warrior Bard".
This being the case, and since writers are only human and not infallible, it seems inevitable that Gabrielle will from time to time suffer from being sidelined, or have odd character changes. She's certainly acquired a lot more depth than when she started - not many sidekicks get important enough to become emotionally involved with the hero, let alone have the hero try to kill them. But it is, after all, Xena that the series is about.
As to villains - every dramatic series needs them, and again the norm seems to be to have a certain number of regular villains who recur from time to time. Just having one regular villain all the time would get too boring - the hero's there every episode (they're who the series is about, after all), and having them fight the same villain every time would get monotonous. There seems to be plenty of scope for Ares to continue (and he has a fascinating sort of love-hate relationship with Xena), so long as he only recurs seriously every second or third episode.
For Callisto, the outlook is less bright. I _love_ Callisto as a character, her psycho-Barbie is supreme, but it's hard to keep that up indefinitely before the audience gets used to it. The occasional reappearance at full psycho-Barbie intensity would be great. The alternative that some Callistophiles have suggested - that she get more 'depth' - would soften her character (and anyway, as one of the writers commented, "We've done that, it's called 'Xena' "). Carrying that to its logical conclusion would be what has dumbed down a lot of series in the past - the regular villains get too 'nice'. It would also leave less room for Gabrielle, though doubtless Callisto would dispose of that little problem with her usual sanguinary enthusiasm (relax, Gabfans, just kidding!).
The other characters - Autolycus, Ceasar, Aphrodite, Ephiny et al, and even the much-maligned Joxer (maybe I should say, especially the much-maligned Joxer) are all "supporting cast". As such, character development can be fairly sketchy or non-existent and most of us wouldn't notice (apologies, Salmoneus fans and Velascaphiles). Has anyone ever noticed whether even Hercules has developed much? - I haven't. I think it's a different sort of show. Besides, can you imagine the writers trying to make all the characters develop at the same time?
Incidentally, I'm not a Joxerfan, but it seems a little bit hard - and inconsistent - to blame the writers when Gab does something out of character, but blame Joxer for all his own 'faults'.
Of course, all the above theorising could be completely wrong. Until I read about the Rift (we've only got as far as THE DEBT I here), I would confidently have said that sidekicks never betray their heroes and heroes _never_ kill their sidekicks. This sort of originality (plus of course some pretty good acting and original dialogue) is what makes XWP stand out for me, even though our favourite characters may have a hard time of it as a result. Sometimes episodes fall flat, but when it's firing on all cylinders XWP leaves everything else on TV for dead.
This may also be one reason why XWP generates such interest (and heat) among the fans. I'm not a Trekkie, but I greatly doubt whether the Kirkfans engage in pitched battle and guerilla warfare with the Spock-followers. At the risk of attracting a salvo of phaser bolts, it's hard to generate real strong feeling for cardboard cutout characters and a repertoire of three basic plots, endlessly recycled. (What's that? Kirk and Spock aren't in Star Trekany more? I _knew_ there was something missing from the last episode I caught - it must've been Spock's ears).
So, I'd say, the Xena production team do a pretty d*mn good job. It is still 'only' a TV series, and it's quite unjustified to put all sorts of personal/political/social agendas on them. Just appreciate the episodes you like; and the ones you don't, comment by all means but don't try to roast the producers.
And thank Zeus the series isn't written by a committee of fans!.
New ZealandMonday, July 20, 1998
Subject: Letter to editor
I like XWP for all the usual reasons, but there is one wonderful thing about the show which I never see commented on: the landscape where it all takes place. New Xenaland must be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. I can't be the only one to whom the sight of those green rolling hills, those still lakes gives wild longings? Please, tell me I'm not that weird. PS Thank you for Whoosh.
No, you are not weird. Just to blow my own horn, this aspect of the show was the 6th reason I listed in my essay, "Why I Watch Xena: Warrior Princess" in Xena Media Review #21 [which was so kindly reprinted in Nadine Crenshaw's book without permission or attribution to me].
The flora of New Zealand is different and it makes the show stand out. Also, the way the show is shot and the film and filters they use accentuate this refreshing difference.
That Darn Last IssueSaturday, August 08, 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor
To start, I must commend everyone for their great job on Whoosh!.
I had to comment on the bevy of negative, angry Letters to the Editor in issue 23. I must say that I understand and agree with many of the comments put forth (i.e. the rift has not been sufficiently resolved, bring back more subtext and less idiotic chauvinist slapstick, etc), but I could not understand how so many fans could be angry about evolution in the relationship between Gab and Xena.
In this area, I'm afraid I liked the third season. I despise episodic television in which no change occurs, in which the same stale old dynamic keeps being repeated show after show. Just as Callisto HAD to die -- because the character had evolved as far as possible and risked becoming a self-parody if used any further --, so did TPTB HAVE to shake things up a bit, to change the status quo, to prevent the third season from simply being a variation on the second. Whether the change was satisfying or not is a different story; but if the characters kept changing for the better, they'd end up boring do-gooders like Hercules [grins], so a little negative change can't hurt.
Even the most put-out ex-fans must admit that this past season has at times been _structurally_ impressive, inventive, and original; the use of the "Hope" narrative thread to join several episodes of two separate shows was powerful, an expansion of last year's device of trading Callisto between shows (in Hercules' "Surprise" and Xena's "A Necessary Evil"). Then, of course, "The Bitter Suite" was the most spectacularly inventive use of the medium of episodic television that I have EVER seen, despite its hokey plot and inadequate resolution. This experimentation fills the same purpose as evolutions in character dynamic -- it prevents the show from becoming formulaic, from building safely on past glory. They can't improve on the great past episodes of yore that everyone loves so much; they're right to try something new.
The problem with the third season lies not in this experimentation or in the change of character dynamic, but rather in the way that neither is properly followed through. After Xena says "I'm sorry" in "The Bitter Suite", everything's back to normal again? Just forget that you killed someone and got pregnant with a demon baby that you eventually had to kill (twice!) -- we hallucinated about weird tarot stuff so everything's back the way it was. Frankly, I find that insulting. What meaning does Xena's whip hold for Gab after the drag? What meaning does fire hold for her after Dahak?
I really don't want the show's writers to return to stale old formulas to regain viewers... but I would like them to clean up their messes. Oh, and if their gonna keep dealing with this demon-baby, sexual-innuendo (a la "Warrior... Priestess... Tramp"), ultra-violent kick they've started on, could TPTB PLEASE rate the show as 'for mature audiences'? And write it as such? Xena, as it is, does not belong in "Kidzone", but it is nevertheless confined and restricted by such a placement.
Thursday, August 13, 1998
Subject: Letter to the editor
I've been telling myself for a while now that I was not going to get involved in the third season hubbub. I was refraining from jumping into the middle of heated arguments about some of the season's issues, regardless of which ones I agreed with or didn't. Then I read this month's Letters to the Editor, including people who are apparently blaming the third season for every ill of the world from global warming to overdone eggs and are ready to cry rainforest deforestation if Autolycus chews on a toothpick. I read Pamela Marino blaming Xena for influencing the kids who shot up their schoolmates and the men who murdered another man by dragging him from their pickup. I read Roger Duarte comparing the rape debate to the Holocaust.
I give up. I'm wading into this, not to discuss the basic issues, but to ask people to take a look at the debate tactics they're falling into.
The third season, and the Xena show in general, brings up some complex and thought-provoking issues (some intentionally, some not quite so). The show loves being controversial and flirting with every line in existence. It's bound to cross some of those lines some of the time. The show's makers nail some things to the wall, and make some mistakes. Happens to all of us. Let's talk about where the right things are and where the mistakes are. Let's discuss whether rape must include knock-down black-and-blue violence to be considered a rape. Let's talk about exactly how much of a flawed hero we want Xena to be. Let's debate the portrayal of the Rift, how the evidence weighed for and against Xena and Gabrielle, and whether Hope would have ever had a chance to be good. More power to us all (XenaStaff and fans alike) for finding such thoughtful issues in a campy action show. Let's bat our opposing ideas around with gusto.
But for pity's sake, let's discuss this without overemotionalism, and with logic and courtesy firmly in control.
It's become a very old joke that anyone can pull trump in any argument by yelling "Hitler Hitler Hitler!" It's the bastion of anyone who wants to press reaction buttons. Roger Duarte's comparison of the denial of Gabrielle's attack as a physical rape to the denial of the Jewish Holocaust is sensationalism, and insulting to a few million deaths at the hands of Nazi inhumanity, not to mention insulting to the XenaStaff and other folks who are trying to make a point, whether you agree with it or not.
The attempt to draw parallels between the GabDrag and the boys who opened fire on their class or the men who dragged another man to death from their truck, and between the death of Meridian to murder as an initiation rite in gangs, is even more spurious. Pamela Marino lists all three with the question "Coincidence?" In a word? YES, it's a coincidence, and a ridiculously thin one at that.
Have the boys who attacked their school ever watched any episodes of Xena, let alone decided to somehow apply Xena's vengeance for her son's death to their own lives? Have the racist thugs who killed a man hinted that they received their inspiration from a horse-dragging they saw on television? And murderous gang initiations have been going on for years; I'm not sure what proof could ever be produced that Xena has retroactively affected history. These were sick and twisted folks, regardless of what television they watched, music they listened to, books they read, or breakfast cereal they ate.
I love XWP, but let's get some perspective, here. It's no more responsible for society's ills than it can take credit for its successes. Ireland did not sit down at the peace talks table with Great Britain because they had seen Centaurs and Amazons learn to get along. Ellen DeGeneres did not take courage from Xena subtext when she decided to come out of the closet. Nor did any of the terrible crimes discussed above have anything to do with a syndicated television show. Society as a whole, while it might take note of a bold or popular television show, will hardly shift one millimeter in response to it.
By all means, let's discuss the issues. Let's debate 'till we're blue in the face the merits and shortcomings of this show. Let's disagree until the cows come home about some of the questions episodes raise. But let's do it with respectful, intelligent discussions of the issues. Not with hype, spurious logic, and personal insults.
Friday, August 14, 1998
Subject: LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF WHOOSH
I take up my Eudora to praise the recent editorial by Bret Rudnick on the attitudes of some fans towards the creators of Xena. I think he makes a very valid point about the fact that an AWFUL lot of people who claim to be fans go out of their way to attack the quality of the show and even worse, the character of the people that produce it. What some take to be criticism are nothing more than AD HOMINEM (to the person) attacks that add nothing but incivility to the life of Xena on the net, and frankly I don't blame for Steve Sears or any member of the Xenastaff for being upset about it. That hurts me too. Therefore, I applaud Steve Sears reply to the Editorial in the July issue.
I've been a Xenite since the phrase was created. At the time I became a fan in December of '95, Steve Sears, Rob Mellette and Rob Field were on the net sharing a bit of their love of the show and the process of creating it to us fans. As a result, I got to know them pretty well. That people cannot resist attacking someone just because they don't like what's happening on the show is to my mind unconscionable. Everybody I've met in Xenastaff and the cast and that I've had the good fortune with which to stay in contact are good, honest, hard working, brilliantly creative people who love the show more than anybody. Now Messers Mellette, Sears, and Field are missing from the net. Mr. Mellette has left the show which is unfortunate, but Steve Sears and Rob Field are still around. They are very busy indeed, but I suspect that one of the reasons that we don't see them on the net much anymore is that they're tired of being called incompetent or bad people. For the gods sake, Xenastaff is getting HATE MAIL! These people who send this garbage are FANS??
The attitudes I object to are these: If I don't like it, it must be BAD. It's variation is: See? The ratings are down this year so TPTB must be screwing up. They're ruining MY Xena. (The chest thumping here is very evident. AND it's not cognizant of the fact that ALL the syndie ratings are way down. Xena is still on the top of the heap, and the networks are getting rid of the Neilsen Rating service.) Another attitude that is uncivil is expressed by those fans who rail against the show because it doesn't subscribe to their particular political viewpoint, be it about subtext or not. The last bit of what I see as objectionable conduct are from those who say: "A star says something's going to happen and TPTB say something else. SOMEBODY'S LYING!!" That makes me pull out what's left of my hair.
A new bruhaha is ravaging the net as I type. The President of Ted Raimi's fan club has said that Joxer and Gabrielle are going to have a romance together this year. The Joxer loathers have come out of the woodwork and attacked the staff for all of the alleged faults that I've cited above. Nobody's stopped to think that the actors don't know what's happening until they get the script, i.e., Ted may be mistaken, and IF Joxer and Gabrielle DO get together, this great staff will make WONDERFUL stories from the situation. To my mind, they made GREAT TELEVISION from Gabrielle's Year of Hell. If Xenastaff doesn't take risks, then the show will end up like the now defunct Robin Hood and Sinbad -- boring and dead.
I am a conservative fan. Watching this verbal rioting hurts me. I ADORE the show and I'm going to stay with it until the end of its run. Xenastaff has NEVER failed to entertain and edify me. I'm DYING to see season four. I HOPE that Xena runs LONGER than the year 2000. I believe in the first amendment WHEN IT APPLIES TO PROTECTING THE POPULACE FROM THE STATE. I don't think it applies to those who call themselves fans and still write attacks on the show and personal insults to the staff. I cannot believe those people that use words in their screeds like: bitter about, liar, lies, cheat, misogynist, racist, incompetent, lousy, and failure, when it comes to Xena: Warrior Princess are FANS. Therefore, I don't want their views inflicted upon me.
I think it's become high time for web page operators and list managers to get the uncivil out of Xena fandom. If this is censorship, so be it. Speaking one's mind is not the same as being deliberately insulting. The uncivil are a loud minority trying to usurp our fun. I want criticism to be cognizant of the professionalism, competence, and comitment to Xena of the writing staff and the performers. Honest disagreement can still be expressed WITHIN THE CONTEXT OF LOVE OF THE SHOW. But this disagreement MUST recognize that the producers owe us nothing but their vision of Xena. I want the fear, loathing, conspiracy theories and soapbox standing to end. Most of all, I want those Xenastaffers who were on the net having fun along with the fans so long ago back on to do the same thing.
To paraphrase Xena, "BE NICE" or move along.
Saturday, August 01, 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor
First, congratulations on your site and the articles and interviews.
Secondly, I'll stick my neck right out and say, I like XWP and I think RenPic are doing an excellent job. Even their least good episodes are more entertaining and original than most series ever manage. The better ones - like TEH DEBT which we have just reached here in NZ - are stunning.
Now I shouldn't have to say that on a 'fan' site, less still expect to get shot for it, but the negativity of some of the letters is staggering. These are fans?
It appears as if some 'fans' are eager to put the worst possible construction on every episode - e.g., Pamela Marino's letter where she tries to blame XWP - with no direct evidence - for inspiring a number of murders. She quotes no evidence that the perpetrators actually saw XWP. I could think of dozens of other shows/movies that could equally credibly be 'blamed' for that. Might as well blame the chariot scenes in XWP every time someone's run over by a dangerous driver.
If as she says, Universal market XWP as a 'family show', then I'd agree that Universal deserves a rocket - not the writers, the marketers. I absolutely do not want XWP dumbed down to the point where it's suitable for ten-year-olds! They've got Disney. Leave Xena alone!
In fact any and every crime in XWP - and more - can be seen in dozens of other shows and unwatchable "based-on-a-true-story" (yeah, right) telemovies. Do those same 'fans' fire off a letter every time one of those talentless shows depicts - far more graphically than XWP ever did - domestic violence? Maybe XWP's fault is that it's just too well made.
In fact, there's no criticism I've seen (or read) about the 'Rift' episodes that couldn't be levelled with equal or greater force at Shakespeare. In fact the 'Rift' could almost be the plot for a Shakespearean tragedy. 'Touched by an Angel' it isn't, thank Zeus!
The subtexters? Some of them seem to think they 'own' XWP, some of them seem to take things completely out of proportion. It's almost a case of 'Xena can kill anybody so long as it isn't Gabrielle'. You'd almost think RenPic had actually shot Renee O'Connor.
If the writers were to start trying not to offend anybody, they'd end up writing 'Wizard of Oz'. And that would offend me! They can't win - whichever way they write it, somebody will object to it.
Enough negativity! XWP has imaginative writing, original dialogue, excellent acting, an original plot with plenty of 'depth' to it, and is visually outstanding - there is very little on TV at the moment that gets near it.
As long as RenPic keeps up the current standard in even half the episodes, I'll be watching. (I might have to stop reading Whoosh's Letters page, though!)
Sunday, August 16, 1998
Subject: Letter to the Editor
I wish to cover several points in this letter, but let me begin by stating that I thought Season Three was outstanding. I felt that "The Rift Arc" segments were by far the best XWP episodes to date. THE DEBT was high adventure at it's best, while THE BITTER SUITE was one of the best bits of television to come along in quite a while. MATERNAL INSTINCTS was truly heart wrenching and it produced the best performances by LL and ROC to date. I also enjoyed the comedy segments. I enjoy farce and sketch comedy, and while these art forms are not to everyone's taste, there are many people around the world who enjoy these humour styles and XWP is after all an international show.
Another point that I wish to raise is that while XWP can be viewed on various levels, it is first and foremost entertainment. It is to be enjoyed, it's supposed to be fun. It is easy for us to take both the show and ourselves too seriously and that in doing so we run the risk of falling into the trap of intellectual elitism. People have the right to enjoy the show for what ever reason they wish, and they also have the right to have have their choices respected. If people want to see the show as a fast paced sword and sorcery action adventure-that's great. If they want to see it as the in depth exploration of the love that two women share that is also great. I love blood and guts movies; I enjoyed "The Evil Dead" and other movies of this sort. I make no apology. I am also against capital punishment, corporal punishment, and I feel that boxing should be made illegal. The bottom line is I know the difference between fantasy and reality.
I like Joxer; I think he tries to do the right thing, but sometimes he falls flat on his face. Such is the human condition. Xena has spent most of her adult life addicted to rage, she kills people like chickens and she extracts information from her victims through the use of torture; but, it is Joxer who seems to be gaining the reputation as being the immature one. If I was to write Joxer's epitaph, it would simply state: "He was loyal to Xena and Gabrielle, even when they couldn't be loyal to each other." One of my favourite pieces of writing is the "Desiderata", and my favourite line is:"Speak your truth quietly and clearly, and listen to others; even the dull and ignorant; they to have their story."
As I stated above, the show can be viewed on several levels, and on one level it is the story of three screwed up people who are trying to unscrew their lives. While I don't believe that Joxer is either dull or ignorant, I do believe that he has a story to tell, so why don't we sit back and listen?
I admire both LL and ROC as actors, and I have chosen to like them both as people even though I don't know them from Adam. Neither I nor (and I suspect) 99% of the viewers know a thing about them. They could both be a couple of jerks with really good PR people and I would never be the wiser. I suspect that they are very nice people but the truth is I don't know. I am not sure that I am comfortable with the level of adoration that these two stars have become subjected to by some of their fans. I don't know if it is healthy either for those fans or for the stars.
I also don't know a thing about Ted Raimi and Steven Sears. I suspect that they are both nice people but once again, I don't know. What I do know is that 99% of the viewers don't know either.
Two unfortunate words are: "Nepotism" and "Misinformation". In my country, "to knowingly mislead" or "to knowingly spread misinformation" is parliamentary language for calling some one "a liar". I suspect that in America they may be legalese for "liar". We all love freedom and we all cherish freedom of speech; but, it should be noted that what passes for freedom of speech in some counties would be considered to be libel, slander, and hate literature in other countries.
Ted Raimi has been acting since he was ten years old. He is a fine actor and I have always enjoyed his work. I did not think that Gabrielle was raped; Mr. Sears has publicly stated that she was not-that is good enough for me! Maybe I'm a fool, maybe I'm a toady, maybe I'm a knuckle dragging Neanderthal; and maybe, just maybe, I didn't think that Gabby was raped.
I remember reading how Bruce Campbell approached his father and asked him to mortgage his summer home so that Renaissance Pictures could finish "The Evil Dead". Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert, and Bruce Campbell started their production company from nothing, and through their risk taking and hard work have made it the success story that it is today. And They own it!! That means they also own XWP. It is their show, and they can do whatever they want with it. They could dress Xena in pink leather if they wanted to, it's their right. I have the right to not watch the show if I don't like what I see. I also have the right to criticize it.
The problem with being a public person is that you end up living your life in a fish bowl. The problem with living in a fish bowl is that you become fodder for every armchair critic and perfectionist who happens to have the benifit of hindsight. Public figures must also deal with supposed friends who seem to react with glee whenever misfortune strikes. I only need to look back to the incident when LL sang the American national anthem. True friends don't treat each other like that.
Once again, the show is supposed to be fun. It's just a show. In Serbia war has broken out again, in the Sudan people are starving to death, in Afganistan women are being reduced to the level of breeding stock, and in Africa, embassies are being bombed. To quote Rick, the trials and tribulations of Xena and Gabrielle don't add up to a hill of beans compared with what is going on out there. So let's try to keep it fun. There's enough room in the show to keep everyone happy. Thank you.
Brian Edward Lashmar
Hamilton, On. Canada
Wednesday, August 05, 1998
Subject: letter to the Editor
I just finished reading the letters to the Editor for the August issue and I felt I must give the dissenting opinion on Season 3. I loved it. ALL of it. I thought the Rift Saga was excellent drama. I thought THE BITTER SUITE was an amazing accomplishment, and look forward to more twists'n'turns of plot and character in the 4th season. Perhaps it's because I think of XWP as an ADULT show rather than a "family" or "kids" show that I'm not breaking out in a sweat about the GabDrag (but if you're worried about violence have you watched cartoons in the last 50 years?)
As much as I truly love the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle, I was not surprised or appalled by the Drag. Frankly, I think Xena is a little crazy (or at least real close to the edge) and always will be. She could be an early example of the adrenaline junkie, people who literally get high off of rage. I think some part of Xena enjoys the rush (rather than the actual killing). Adrenaline is a very addictive substance and people (including Xena) spend their whole lives fighting it.
Did Gabrielle "deserve" being dragged? Of course not, but that's the rational answer to a question generated out of an (emotionally) irrational situation. The truth is, I relate to the darkness in Xena and her struggle to keep it in balance. I'm no killing-machine warlord, but in my life I have done cruel things to people I've loved, and they've done them to me. No Drags, but evil words and a few punches. The darkness and the wicked (Adult) humor are the plot elements in XWP that keep me most interested. I even look forward to sweet Gabrielle getting a bit more sepia-toned. It just makes for more grand drama. (Am I the only one that found Gab-lookalike Hope rather seductive?)
And yes, the love-bond between Xena and Gabrielle is a warm, beautiful, and comforting part of that grand drama. I don't think it was harmed by Season 3. I think it was changed and deepened by everything they went through, together and separately, as all the best relationships in life are.
Before I go,however, I must say that people (like one of your letter writers in the August issue) who blame art (or entertainment) for the stupid, terrible, awful things that are done in the real world are giving way too much power to art and not enough responsibility to the idiot monsters doing them. Or,in the case of children, their parents. It's too scary to think that everything has to be considered for it's "effect on Society". Consistently politically correct Art loses something in the translation; have you ever viewed the lovely Chinese paintings of the Mao period? Oh well. Thanks for Whoosh; it's a thoughtful and well-done work. On to Season 4!
Wednesday, July 15, 1998
Subject: Letter To The Editor
When establishing the Xena series, The Powers That Be took the ancient Greek myths and legends and put a modern day "spin" on them. They filtered them through a pop culture lens and infused every single aspect of the series with a 90's sensibility much like they had with Hercules one season before.
And they were d*mn proud of it, too. I've read countless interviews where TPTB gleefully admitted they were playing fast and loose not only with mythology, but historical timelines, as well.
So imagine my surprised outrage when Steven Sears-and the rest of TPTB-started hiding behind mythological "accuracy" when trying to defend/explain/justify Gabrielle's rape.
Mr. Sears and Renaissance Pictures ongoing campaign to deny/obfuscate the issue of Gabrielle's rape in THE DELIVERER continues to astound me in it's sheer, blind, self serving arrogance.
Consider: In Greek Mythology, Zeus impregnated Leda while in the form of a swan.
This has been clearly described as an act of RAPE in mythological texts throughout the ages.
Now consider: In THE DELIVERER, Gabrielle is dragged by her ankle kicking, screaming, and protesting across a hard stone floor, then hoisted above Dahak's altar where she "is attacked and engulfed by a being composed of fire" (Xena trading card #20).
A being whose phallic flames writhed all about her. Her body was forcibly restrained but her mind was never "possessed". She was fully conscious and screaming for help. She was left "hurting inside" and in the very next episode, GABRIELLE'S HOPE, the bard is depicted as being pregnant and gives birth. She reacted to Dahak's flames in THE BITTER SUITE with panic and fear as she screamed, "No! Not again!"
We are told by Paul Herdon, the special effects storyboard artist from the folks at Flat Earth that "the producers were concerned that the sequence not be too explicit". So instead of the demon being given a form they made the demon as "undulating tentacles of fire that wrap around her."
So in fact, the real intent here WAS to RAPE the bard but "not make it look too explicit".
Mythology never failed to call rape exactly what it is no matter what form a god took, so if one was to really be mythologically accurate about what happened to Gabrielle in Dahak's temple, one would have no choice but to call Dahak's forced impregnation of Gabrielle exactly what it was: RAPE.
If Mr. Sears and company really want to put this issue to rest, they should take responsibility for their acts of violence against the women of this show and admit they RAPED the bard.
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