Whoosh! Issue 33 - 
June 1999
Letters to the Editor


From: Day Brown
Date: Fri, 23 Apr 1999
Subject: Cosmology

I live way out in the boondocks, so I don't get Fox, and have never seen this show. I have, for several years now, been researching the development of the mammoth hunting culture from where Jane Auel leaves them, and have traced it well into the era, and area, which this show purports to represent.

I moderate gaiansim@onelist.com which attempts to outline the archaeological data on the cultures of the Great Mother God, usually known as Gaia. I note some debate over the question of whether the characters are Lesbian. FWIW:

In Search of the Indo-Europeans, by JP Mallory, notes all the kinship words and their variations in Indo-European languages, e.g. Mother-mather-macer, Father-faether-pater, and so on through son, daughter, niece, nephew, brother, and sister. He comments that he cannot find a word for wife, husband, nor marriage. He further notes some confusion over the fact that grandfather seemed to originally refer to the mother's brother.

In the well-illustrated works of Marija Gimbutas, you'll find hundreds of objects with iconography, none of which show anything like a marriage or couple. In Atlantis Destroyed by Castledon, he lists the iconography of the Cycladic & Minoan cultures (descendants of the Cucuteni of Rumania) which includes birth, death, funerals, feasts, puberty rites, sacrifices, dances, sporting events, but he does not explain -why- there are no marriages.

In Wondrous Realms of the Aegean by Time/life, p 76, you can see in the fresco cityscape of the Minoan Capital near Akrotiri, which originally was called the 'City of the Moon' i.e. "At-Lunus" (!)... you can see that all of the dominant figures on the penthouse terraces overlooking the city are women. But that down on the dock, awaiting the ships to come in is a long line of women in mini-skirts.

Obviously women; they were topless, obviously waiting for men manning the ships. So, the reason they didn't have a word for marriage or images of marriage is simple. They did not -have- marriage. But to assume that they were therefore Lesbian, don't follow either. If anything, they were Bi.

The Prehistory of Sex by Taylor makes a point I have been suspecting for a long time. Gimbutas and the others in archaeology show "cult paraphernalia", "phallic symbols", even "phallic batons". Gimme a break. I've seen enough porn flicks. I know a dildo when I see one. Taylor makes the point that these objects are not seen in the museums but rest on shelves in the cellar. I can see how they'd not like to put a 6th millennia BCE dildo in a glass case under halogen lights. ;-)

Then too, there is the photograph on the cover of In search of The Indo-Europeans. The fly leaf says: "on the cover, a bronze figure of an Iranian Steppe nomad taking a classic 'Parthian shot' over his left shoulder". You'd havtabe blind as a bureaucrat not to notice =-HER-= left breast!

To give the devil his due though, Mallory notes inside that riding bareback (as on the cover) day in day out for weeks or months at a time leads to serious health problems for men. Same as in Olympic bike racing. I note also that the horse in question is small, as the original breed was, and that for speed and long distance, light women warriors are a far more effective fighting force.

Saddles, and more particularly, stirrups, were not invented for another thousand years.

With reference to clothing, I'd refer to the Tocharians, and dispense with the absurd bikini tops. The ancestors of the Scythians =-invented-= the weaving of wool, and nobody wore leather except for beautiful riding boots. BTW: the Tocharian leader always wore a tall pointy hat so that all the riders behind -=HER-= could see which way She was going. If you wore it in a witch costume nobody would notice.

Christianity and The Bitter Suite

Date: Mon, 05 Apr 1999
From: Rob Lent
Subject: Christianity in The Bitter Suite?

This is in response to two articles in the April edition of Whoosh! It is a bit of a stretch to say that The Bitter Suite contains Christian theology. The themes of temptation, rebirth and faith permeate mythology. The most that could be said is that there are some parallels in The Bitter Suite. Horus in Egyptian mythology and Mythra in Persian both die and come back from the dead. This theme occurs many times in mythology. However, although Illusia is presented to them, they "save" each other all by themselves. The faith they display is in each other.

As far as Christian symbolism in The Bitter Suite, this too seems to be a stretch. You can, of course, look at it from whatever perspective you need to. However, many symbols that are identified as Christian had a prior existence as pagan symbols. For example, the image of Mary with the infant Jesus is taken from Isis and the infant Horus. This was a common image in ancient times, and many paintings of Isis and Horus were simply relabled as Mary and Jesus. The image of the hanged man (hanging upside down) does not come from Christianity, but from Norse mythology, where Odin hung upside down from the world-tree to gain wisdom. Much of the perceived Christian symbolism in TBS comes from a Christian perspective on the Tarot. This perspective could be had for any religion on the planet.

Censoring XENA

From: KSZoneW
Date: Tue, 18 May 1999
Subject: Ides of March Scene

I heard at http://www.xenite.com that some stations edited out the scene between Xena and Caesar [in IDES OF MARCH], well conversing by more than words. Not sure if you guys heard it yet or not.

I'm sick of all this editing of eps. It seems USA edits everything everyday of the week. Sadly unless these release every H and X ep on video, some fans will never get too see the full episode ever again. Perhaps if the Way is reinstated soon, USA will take notice and decide to show eps as they were meant to be shown. I'm not into subtext but would snap if the scenes from "Quest" and "Deja Vu" were edited. Editing and such is wrong. Sorry for blabbing on. I need to get offline and get ready for my new job. Less time online it means but I get a better life and salary because of it. Worth it I guess.

Don't You Ling Me

Date: Thu, 01 Apr 1999
From: S Dye
Subject: Letters to the Editor

In regard to the Hercules episode "The March to Freedom", the actress who played Oi-Lan - Lucy Liu - currently plays Ling on "Ally McBeal". I was pleased to note that she played Oi-Lan in the same "in your face" way that she portrays Ling. (I've not yet seen Ling do a high kick, however.) "Ally" fans might want to check her out the next time this episode comes around on USA.

Subtext Revisited

From: jkirk1701
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Date: Mon, 17 May 1999

Xena: Warrior Princess is a show that almost immediately became a hit with gays, due mainly to it's subtext. I can't help but wonder why. This show is not gay-friendly. Not once in its four year run have we seen even one unambiguously gay character or relationship.

Lawless said that gays made the show "hip" and a "hit". The producers and writers caught on to this and played up the subtext to their gay audience.

Now, however, Lawless assures us it was just a gag: "We've kind of gone beyond that. I guess we got bored with all the chat about it. We just got over it, that's all. And I always thought, you know, Xena is what she is and she's not asking to be categorised to fit in with a particular lobby group [she laughs]. And we wanted to leave it so that the audience could make whatever of it they saw fit. Sometimes we went a little overboard because it made us laugh and we thought it was a good gag. It was fun. We might have got a little carried away, but most of it was from us, on set, on the day." Australian Rolling Stone October 1998

Aren't you fellow gays happy you have provided Lawless and crew with laughs? We're nothing but "a good gag" to these people and it shows in the episodes. Not only "Deja Vu All Over Again" but especially that ridiculous FFG ep last year.

Renee O'Connor pipes in with: "It was unintentional to begin with," says O'Connor. "But the more lesbians started watching, and the more feedback we received from them, our characters started to develop a little more intimately. We have to keep it a family show, but the subtext is there." ROC Who Weekly (Australia) 31 August 1998

Keep it a family show, eh? So it's okay to show families Xena brutalizing Gabrielle with the drop and drag in "The Bitter Suite". It's okay to show both women trying to kill one another in the same ep. It's okay to show X pushing, shoving, pulling G along by her hair, physically and emotionally abusing her, but God forbid they should EVER kiss. Families would be ruined by such behavior- the very fabric of our society would be torn asunder- NOT.

In the season ending ep. Xena and Gabrielle kiss! Great right! WRONG. Once again Xena is in a man's body when they kiss. This happened once before in the second season episode "The Quest" when a dead Xena inhabited the body of Autolycus and "kissed" Gabrielle. Of course, all we saw was Gabrielle kissing the man.

So, two women cannot kiss unless one of them is in a man's body. This is tantamount to spitting into the faces of subtexters.

I suggest it's past time for gays and the gay media to stop giving it's support to a show, that despite the subtext that once existed, is in actuality homophobic.

Date: Tue, 06 Apr 1999
From: roy
Subject: subtext-letter to editor

I have a rather different idea on the subtext issue. I think that by implying that Xena and gab are lesbians it takes away from the idea that TV can have strong women role models that do not rely on men to get by in this world. so before everybody starts yelling homophobia or saying "I just don't get it"-hear me out.

For once we have strong women role models on tv, but by making them lesbians the world can say -well of course they don't need men their lesbians, they don't like or need men anyway. If they were straight they would certainly depend on and need men.

So by making them lesbians, TV doesn't admit that straight women can be positive stong role models, why does a women have to be a lesbian to strong. assertive and unreliant on men. this "are they or aren't they" is a TV cop out that says-sure strong women don't need men-they must be lesbians.

Mental Illness in the Xenaverse

Date: Mon, 05 Apr 1999
From: Virginia CarperSubject: LETTER TO EDITOR

Carolyn S in her letter regarding my article "Exploration of Mental Illness as Presented in The Furies", highlights an excellent point. She asks why would someone expect realism in a fantasy TV series. She points out that Xena's behavior is in keeping with the Greek idea of gods imposing insanity on people. The episode explores what is sanity and what is not.

Ordinarily, I would have agreed with Carolyn about THE FURIES. It is a fantasy episode with serious and silly behavior from our heroes. It does highlight the deep affection that Xena and Gabrielle have for each other.

Why did I expect a more realistic, serious approach to insanity in THE FURIES?

1. The episode was presented with Lucy Lawless giving a Public Service Announcement (PSA) on domestic violence. She tied the episode to her PSA on abuse. To me, the episode became a statement against domestic abuse (which is a form of mental illness).

2. The episode delved into serious "hot button" issues that previous episodes had not. One of those issues was incest. Others were suicide and murder. These topics are generally not included a fantasy-adventure series.

3. The producers of X:WP had been proud of their sensitive portrayals of women, and of people who do not follow sexual norms. Also, their casting of roles included many people of color. I had expected similar sensitivity to people with mental illnesses. I was shocked at seeing the usually shlocky images of crazy people.

4. After watching the third season descend into sensationalistic story telling, I believed that this trend started with THE FURIES. To me, the script seemed written with a sense of self-indulgence and carelessness: How many people can we shock and titillate today?

5. I am a disability rights activist. I have a mental illness, and have been an inmate at a state hospital. So, the issue of mental illness in the media is a sensitive one for me. TV and movies are powerful mediums that convey images that seep into people's minds. I would have preferred a more accurate or sensitive depiction of mental illness in THE FURIES. What I objected to is the use of mental insanity as a plot device for sensationalism and a ?sense of gotcha?.

Do I object to stories playing with the ideas of delusion and madness? No. One of my favorite stories is THE SIMPSON's episode with Homer in the mental institution. He had 'Michael Jackson' as his roommate. Who was sane and insane? Homer believed he was sane because he had his certificate stating he was sane. That episode's story came from the characters themselves. It was believable and funny but compassionate at the same time. THE FURIES had none of those elements in it.

Would I want to see X:WP explore madness? Yes. They have already given us Callisto and Joxer. Callisto is a wonderful character in her insanity. Is she truly insane or totally sane in her actions? Joxer lives in his world of fantasy and delusion of being a great warrior.

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