From the Editor-in-Chief: USING THE "L" CARD
From the Graphics Editor: THE NIGHT OF THE UNEXPECTED REUNION
From the Coding Editor: FRIENDS AND NUTBALLS (FANS): NATURE ABHORS A VACUUM
From the Editor in Chief: Using the "L" Card
Apparently The Meditation Center in San Francisco, the World Vaishnava Association, American Hindus Against Defamation, and other Hindu associated groups are all under the impression that XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS portrays Xena and Gabrielle as having a lesbian relationship.
They must be reading select media reports, which have also been eager to "out" the show, and not actually watching the TV show they are so eagerly condemning. Had they watched the show they would have understood the subtly of the art of subtext watching. It's called SUBTEXT for a reason, folks.
XWP, of course, has never commented either way on the sexual identities of the main characters. That is part of the game of subtext. Nevertheless, these groups have been protesting Renaissance Pictures for using Krishna as a character in this "lesbian" show. Because the leads are "lesbian", Krishna is associated with sexual deviants, or at least that is how their faulty logic goes. Their argument would have been stronger if they had merely stated that portraying Krishna on a sword and sandal camp-fest was insulting to the contemporary adherent's of His Faith. But nooooo, they had to focus on an approach which proves to anyone with a brain that they have no idea what they are talking about.
There are valid and important issues here, but these groups have themselves cheapened and thwarted the presentation by using the "L" card when it is not even remotely supportable. Pity that the real issues have been brushed under the carpet for this more flashy yet ultimately indefensible attack.
Kym Masera Taborn
March 30, 1999
From the Graphics Editor: The Night Of The Unexpected Reunion
Rangitoto Island, as seen from Auckland's Sky Tower.
As I compose the first draft of this month's editorial, I am sitting at the summit of Rangitoto Island, a scant few miles from downtown Auckland, New Zealand. Rangitoto is a Maori name, "rangi" meaning sky, and "toto" meaning red, or blood. Not surprising since the Maori witnessed it rise from the sea a scant 600 years ago (the eruption killed some people on nearby Motutapu Island), and it has only been "dormant" for the last 200. Rangitoto dominates the landscape from many angles of Auckland Harbour, and its long, low outline with slightly askew cone is unique. The view from here is quite magnificent, and one can see all of Auckland on a clear day. As I sit here, it's hard to believe just a couple of weeks prior I was deathly ill from a serious bout of food poisoning, wishing at times for a quick end. But the climb to Rangitoto summit and the view from here are quite life-affirming, and as the gentle breeze keeps me cool from the late summer sun, I wish I could share this wonderful place with everyone instead of having it all to myself as I do at the moment.
From a distance, Rangitoto looks lush and green, an island paradise as one might hear described in SOUTH PACIFIC. Indeed, strains of "Bali Ha'i" are rather appropriate. But when you set foot on the island, the illusion is immeditately dispelled. There is no soil on Rangitoto. The trees and bush one sees from a distance grow into the very sharp and jagged rock that dominates the landscape. Because the volcanic rock is very porous, there is no standing water here. Rather, the rain seeps down to a vast underground lake beneath the volcano. The view from afar is very different to the view up close.
Auckland is rather like that, too. From afar, one sees the dominant feature of Sky Tower, much like the cone dominates Rangitoto. When you get up close, the city streets can be quite crowded with tourists, shoppers, and business people, all bustling about their own business.
In the midst of one of these crowds one day, I had a quite unexpected reunion.
Last year, when I was on the set of XENA, I met several people and observed them at their work. Some I had more opportunity to chat with than others, especially since the last thing I wanted to do was get in anyone's way. But I was able to get to know a few of them as best one can in spending a long day in their company.
This year, as I walked down a busy Auckland street, I recognised one of these people straight away. We saw each other at the same time. Not really quite knowing how I remembered, I shouted his name and he shouted mine at the exact same time. We smiled, shook hands, and ducked into a nearby cafe to catch up. Although a year had passed, it might as well have only been a day or two as far as we were concerned. We chatted about what each of us had been up to, what we were doing lately, and our plans for the future.
New Zealand in general, and Auckland in particular, has had that effect on me. Since then, I've run into several people I met the last time I was here, and in each instance, we picked up where we left off. By now, some of these acquaintanceships have developed into friendships, and with the help of these people, a superficial understanding of a culture is becoming deeper. And very few of them have anything to do with XENA -- this is more a consequence of a love of travel than the pursuit of a television show hobby.
So now I look at my watch and see if I'm going to catch the ferry I'd better move along. I still want to see the Rangitoto caves before I leave. And this is just one footprint in a long journey. Each time I visit one of these magnificent places, I leave a small part of myself behind, and wonder that I have anything left in my soul at all, until I realise that I also take a little something with me.
Life is funny that way.
March 15, 1999
From the Coding Editor: Friends And Nutballs (FaNs): Nature Abhors A Vacuum[Spoiler warning! This editorial is about nothing but The Way (with a slight mention of The Play's the Thing). If you haven't seen the episode yet, you might want to skip this.]
The toss heard 'round the XenaVerse: Gabrielle pitches her staff into the river, and fans everywhere go through coronary failure. I've seen it on the mailing lists and gotten quite a few emails about it: how could the writers do it? What will Gabrielle do if she can't fight? Will she be useless now? Will she take up macrame?
I'm worried, too. I loved watching Gab kick butt with that staff. The show's been concentrating on Gabrielle's fighting ability (and willingness to use it) a lot in the past couple of seasons. In Tale of Two Muses, she leaped into a fight and yelled "Save some for me!", which would have been an unthinkable thing - ability and personality-wise - for Gabrielle to utter a season and a half before that.
But that season and a half ago is where Gab's roots were, and our best reminder that Gabrielle is still a strong character without that staff. Hopefully, that's where the writers will be looking, too. In most of the first season, Gabrielle had no idea how to fight. For the majority of the second, Gab still hadn't learned how to look behind her in a battle and would usually be able to hold her own just long enough for Xena to save her bacon in the end.
Gabrielle was still a fun character back then. She was the fast talker, the thinker, the feeler, the philosopher. She was the emotional barometer. When a cyclops put her in a cage, she convinced him to let her go with funny threats on Xena. When Velasca threw a knife at her to keep her from taking the Amazon queen's mask, Gabrielle gave her a choice between the mask and the knife - and took the queenship. If Gabrielle gives up fighting, it's the perfect opportunity for those other qualities to step back to the front of the stage.
Change makes people nervous. And The Play's the Thing made me VERY nervous - Gab did the expected run-and-hide to avoid a fight, but also spent most of the episode clueless and a comedy punching bag. But that was one of the farce comedies, written by a couple of first-time writers for the show. It's not cause for despair. I'm hoping the writers and producers have their plan in mind, and we'll see how it sketches out in the remaining five episodes of the season.
Gabrielle's not just about fighting. Her character's a lot more than a staff. Deciding to stop fighting just means that, if the writers do their job, she'll find new ways to be useful to their adventures and fun for us to watch. Nature abhors a vacuum: take something away, and other things should step in to take its place. Gabrielle already has all the pieces she needs to make us never miss that wonderful staff. Tell the lads in the pressroom that I'm putting on my hat and heading for the bar.
Coding Editor, Episode Commentator
March 27, 1999