Whoosh! Issue 35 - August 1999

DEBUNKING THE MYTH OF THE JOXERPHILE
IAXS project #708
By Rebecca Littlehales
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
4106 words



Author's Note: Thanks to everyone who helped me with this article, particularly The Gabrielle/Joxer Romantics (GJRS) and The Joxer Enthusiasts Supporting Sapphic Subtext (JESSS) for their input on myths and for being incredibly informative. In reading this, please remember that all opinions expressed here are my own and are not necessarily shared by all Joxerites. That is of course the point of this article.




Who Am I? (01-03)
Those Dirty Myths (04-28)
     Myth #1: Anti-subtext (04-06)
     Myth #2: Gabrielle and Joxer together (07-08)
     Myth #3: Dislike Gabrielle (09-10)
     Myth #4: Only boys like Joxer (11-12)
     Myth #5: Slapstick and stupid humor (13)
     Myth #6: Sexist pig (14-16)
     Myth #7: Main character (17-18)
     Myth #8: Perfect as he is right now (19-22)
     Myth #9: Losers with low IQs (23-25)
     Myth #10: Hate anti-Joxerites (26-27)
     Myth #11: Horrified of a gay Joxer (28)
Why I Love Joxer (29-33)
What is... (34-41)
     the GJRS?... (34-37)
     the JESSS?... (38-39)
     the Joxer Shields?... (40)
     the SACJM? (41)
Conclusion (42-44)
Biography



Debunking The Myth Of The Joxerphile




Who Am I?

[01] My name is Rebecca Littlehales, and I am a Joxer Fan. I am in my twenties, attending university in Ontario, and am working for a BA in psychology. After that, I plan to go through graduate school and get a Doctorate in Psychology. I maintain my own web page, write, draw, and read quite a bit. I have been watching Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP) since the middle of the second season, when I first found out that the series was actually not campy at all (as the general opinions I had been exposed to had implied) but was actually very intelligent and funny. Since then I have watched XWP whenever I could, and stayed informed about XWP-related rumors and news.

[02] I am semi-active on the Internet, though not heavily involved in much online Xena fandom. Most of the times I speak up are in defense of Joxer or, more often, in defense of his fans. The point of this article is not to convince people who do not like Joxer to accept how great he is. Rather, it is to address the stereotypes that are associated with being a Joxer fan, some of which are more negative than others.

[03] As a big fan of Joxer, I have been subjected to some abuse on the Internet. Sometimes it has been indirect, such as just reading an article that has been written about Joxer which generalizes his fan base in an insulting manner, though rarely with malice. At other times, I have been abused to my cyber "face" for little reason other than my sticking up for my opinions. I have encountered nearly all of the following myths at one time or another, and this has led me (as well as other Joxer fans) to stay out of mainstream Xena fandom. I have found articles that have unwittingly succumbed to stereotypes and prejudices about "my kind" of fan even in the pages of Whoosh! Here, at last, is the side of the Joxerites.


Those Dirty Myths


Myth #1: All Joxer fans are anti-subtext.

And his breath is so minty fresh!


Gabrielle swoons for Joxer in FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS


Reality:
[04] Many fans of Joxer are also great fans of the subtext. The Joxer Enthusiasts Supporting Sapphic Subtext (JESSS) are the main society which directly contradicts that myth, although they are sadly ignored in context with main Xena fandom. I will agree that not all Joxer fans are pro-subtext. However, the term "anti-subtext" implies that we wish it to be taken off the show, and that is hardly the case. It is easy to think that Joxerites who support a relationship between Gabrielle and Joxer are, by definition, anti-subtext. However, a more proper definition would be "non-subtext," because they choose to interpret it as non-sexual.

[05] The main reasoning behind this myth probably stems from the belief that Joxer interrupts and/or stands in the way of many moments between Xena and Gabrielle. Hence, it may stand to reason to believe that fans of Joxer appreciate this and like him for it. Actually, for the most part, Joxer fans rarely even think about Joxer "interrupting" Xena and Gabrielle.

[06] I have also heard the rather extreme accusation that Joxer fans are homophobic. It seems to me that, if that were honestly the case, such people would not watch the show. Basically, you cannot ignore the subtext. You can see it as you wish to see it, which is of course the point of the "sub" part of it, but you cannot ignore it.


Myth #2: All Joxer fans want to see Gabrielle and Joxer together.

Reality:
[07] Again, check out JESSS for an alternative to that belief. It seems likely that, often, Gabrielle/Joxer Romantics (GJRs) are just the more obviously vocal of the Joxerites. When a fan announces that they liked Joxer in a recent episode, one may not take notice of him. But if he announces that they liked him, and wonders when Gabrielle is going to see how great he is, one will certainly take a second look at that message.

[08] GJRs are considered quite radical these days. They have managed to be mentioned in conventions and essays, and are the sources of hot debate. In fact it seems to be causing quite a bit of distress. Hence, this position is in the public eye, and it is easy to think that they are the majority among Joxer fans, which is doubtful.


Myth #3: Most GJRs dislike Gabrielle.

Reality:
[09] Most GJRs like Gabrielle quite a bit, actually. For one thing, they would not want Joxer with her if they did not like her. Many people have stated that Joxer fans consider Gabrielle cruel and heartless for her treatment of Joxer. To set the record straight, Joxerites usually just figure she does not realize, or does not want to deal with, his feelings. Gabrielle is as renowned and loved among most Joxerites, GJRs and otherwise, for her kindness and loving heart as she is throughout the rest of the Xenaverse.

[10] I have a feeling that this assumption of attitudes towards Gabrielle is based on two things. Perhaps it was based on some comments a few people made after certain episodes aired, expressing sympathy for Joxer and, in the heat of the moment, expressing disappointment at Gabrielle's actions. Or maybe it was based simply on the assumption of what Joxerites are "supposed" to feel. The truth is, there are Joxer fans who dislike Gabrielle, just as there are Xena fans who dislike her. There are fans who even dislike Xena herself. But on the whole, most Joxerites do not dislike Gabrielle just because of the way she treats Joxer.


Myth #4: Only boys aged 8-14 like Joxer.

Reality:
[11] My father, who is in his late forties, discovered Joxer before I did, as did a female friend of mine in her early thirties. Friends of mine, both male and female, ranging in age from 13 to 20 years old, have been won over by Joxer and started watching the show after I have shown them episodes with him in it.

[12] This is not to say that everyone likes Joxer no matter what. After all, tastes run differently. However, it is time to stop saying that Joxer is there to cater to a very small segment of the audience. The audience who appreciates him actually varies a great deal.


Myth #5: Any adults who like Joxer really get a kick out of slapstick and stupid humor.

Joxer has a hard time getting the concept of sushi


Joxer becomes lord of the jungle in FINS, FEMMES, and GEMS.


Reality:
[13] The slapstick gets tired after a while. Many Joxer fans would prefer character growth rather than falling-down jokes. Many of Joxer's finest moments have occurred in the more dramatic episodes, such as INTIMATE STRANGER (31/207), THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), and SACRIFICE II (68/322). In each of these, Joxer played a background role, but took a large step forward as a useful and at least slightly more competent character. Most Joxerites wish for these kinds of scenes to be more abundant, but too often Joxer gets seen in scripts as "that guy who falls down so that everyone can laugh". Ted Raimi does that sort of thing as well as anyone can, but there are only so many times that most people can see it before they want something else.


Myth #6: Anyone who likes Joxer must be a sexist pig.

Reality:
[14] Generally speaking, anyone who likes Joxer just likes Joxer. As one Joxerite said, to believe that Joxer himself really is as sexist as he sometimes seems to be is to believe fully in his "Joxer the Mighty" persona. One thing that Joxer fans do seem to agree on is that Joxer lives behind a screen, and projects what he believes he is supposed to be. However, behind the "Mighty" screen, there is a real and much more likeable person, one who suffers from extremely low self-esteem. This belief has backed up in recent episodes, such as Joxer's story in IF THE SHOE FITS (80/412).

[15] Suave Warrior-Joxer from FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216) behaved in an abominably sexist manner, but that was induced by the spell he was under. In contrast, when Joxer arrived at Meg's place in WARRIOR...PRIESTESS...TRAMP (40/206) and mistook Leah for Meg, he backed off instantly when she told him to, despite the fact that Meg was someone with whom he had had physical relations. Had he been as sexist as he sometimes appears, he would have ignored her wishes. Moreover, he went out of his way to apologize to Leah for his behavior later in that episode.

[16] Joxerites actually appreciate Joxer because he is a reversal of sexism: he is a klutzy, somewhat dorky guy in a show featuring lovely, competent women. In a time where women were seen as inferior, Joxer is obviously inferior to Xena and Gabrielle. He is still allowed to tag along, and Xena in particular even shows some steady signs of respect and affection for him.


Myth #7: Joxer fans want Joxer to be the main character (or think he is the main character)

Reality:
[17] Joxerites just want to see more of Joxer in a well rounded role. If comments like "We need more Joxer!" are made, it is only because we wish to see more of our favorite character. It is doubtful that any Joxerite really believes that he belongs in every episode. They have been disappointed with the infrequency of Joxer's appearances in the fourth season; fewer appearances mean less chance for character development.

[18] People have been known to say that Joxer is the true hero of the show, but that is often in jest or in another context. No Joxerite has the desire to see XWP turn into "Joxer: Warrior Prince," nor believes that will ever happen. To quote one Joxerite I spoke to: "It is been said before, but I'll say it again: The name of the show is Xena. Can you imagine an entire series based on Joxer alone? He's my favorite guy in the whole world, but the thought just frightens me horribly."


Myth #8: Joxer fans think that Joxer is perfect as he is right now.

Reality:
[19] Ask almost any Joxerite seriously, and she will usually answer that she feels Joxer has a long way to mature before he is anything near perfect. Many Joxerphiles, particularly the females, sing his praises and promote the excellence of his character. More often than not, they are prone to speak of his physical attributes as well as his more lovable characteristics. In context with the show, however, most everyone agrees that it is the potential of which we have seen glimpses that they wish to see developed.

[20] During season two, Joxer went from being a self-promoting tagalong with a very dim grasp of reality to a good-hearted bumbler who tries and, unfortunately, often falls short. The potential for a lot of growth was opened, and by A A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222) it looked like it was going somewhere. Certainly, Joxer surprised even Xena by echoing a few of her own conclusions all by himself, and even finding Cupid in the nick of time. The hope was that this trend would continue in the third season. Unfortunately, that did not happen. Joxer was often relegated to comic relief, and what little growth he was allowed was often contradicted in a later episode.

[21] Joxer's appearances in the fourth season have varied widely. He is shown maturity and growth in some situations, and has been a good part of the plot in many of his appearances. However, there have been times, such as in KEY TO THE KINGDOM (78/410), when he has been bumped back to early third season-style roles. As of this writing, THE CONVERT (86/418), an episode which shows some serious potential for Joxer maturing, has yet to air. We have our fingers crossed, hoping that it is handled well.

[22] In short, people on both the pro- and anti- sides of the fence want the same thing: a change and some growth in the character. The difference appears to simply be that pro-Joxerites enjoy the character as he is now, while antis do not.


Myth #9: Anyone who relates to Joxer is a loser with a brain the size of a pea.

These mannekins look more and more lifelike every year!


In THE XENA SCROLLS, a Joxer descendent becomes a master of disguise. Sort of.


Reality:
[23] The number of people who relate to Joxer for lots of different reasons is surprising. About 99% of them are intelligent, mature people who just remember what it was like to grow up outside of the "popular" crowd. To them, it is a pleasure to see a character in such an excellent fantasy show who represents parts of themselves. Many males and females alike find this to be almost vicarious fulfillment.

[24] Fans who relate to Joxer did not choose to, they just do. One Joxerite wrote: "That's the way it works, and I didn't ask for it--I happened to catch a few XWP [episodes], became a hard-core nutball, saw Joxer, and it just 'clicked'. But I won't apologize for it, either." Many fans are surprised to see themselves in the character some consider to be the least realistic on the show. No one relates to Joxer just to annoy the people who hate him. They do it because they are real people, and they see real personality traits in Joxer.

[25] On the other hand, not all Joxer fans like him because they relate to him. Some just like the character and the actor who plays him. Keep that in mind, as well, when dealing with Joxerites: you do not have to be him to like him.


Myth #10: Joxer fans hate anti-Joxerites, and consider anyone who dislikes Joxer to be a "Joxerphobe".

Reality:
[26] Joxer fans and anti-Joxerites can get along very well as long as there is respect between the two. Many ardently pro-Joxer Xenites have good friends, both online and offline, who simply do not like the character. They can debate the usefulness and likability of the character. While they may never change their opinions, expressing those opinions is a great exercise and it helps them to understand each other better.

[27] Many people online have probably heard the term "Joxerphobe" and wondered what exactly it meant. Just as the term "phobia" implies, Joxerphobia is an extreme case of hatred for everything related to the character. It includes the actor, the episodes he is in, his fans, and every word the character ever speaks. A Joxerphobe is one who has no respect for Joxer's fans and attacks them along with the character. I have found that Joxerphobes rarely realize that they are hurting others' feelings, but more often than not they do not care. They will rarely admit that they could have been wrong, and ultimately tend to drive nearly everyone, both pro- and anti-Joxer, away.


Myth #11: Joxer fans would be horrified to think of Joxer being gay.

Reality:
[28] The existence of such sites and mailing lists as "Joxerotica" proves this one wrong, as well. The above site gives extensive amounts of R- and NC17-rated fanfic centered around the warrior wannabe, and many of them are slash stories, proof that one cannot take any stereotypes about Joxerites for granted!


Why I Love Joxer

Reaction when SEAQUEST:DSV was cancelled


Joxer has a fine dramatic moment fighting back tears in A COMEDY OF EROS.


[29] So why do I hold such a high opinion of Joxer? Because, personally, I feel he rounds out the show. As Gabrielle matures, Joxer fills the role she left behind. Gabrielle was once the sidekick who was inexperienced and naive, open to mistakes, the comic foil. As she learns and grows, she makes far fewer mistakes. In fact, fans often get upset if she does make them, citing them as out of character for one of her intelligence.

[30] So who is left to make mistakes? Who is left to have to learn to expand his worldview, and to have to be rescued when there's trouble? Why, Joxer! Joxer is there to fill the void of a sidekick to two heroes, a fool to two wise women, and a klutzy "teenager" to two graceful adults.

[31] In addition, I like seeing the interaction between Joxer and Xena. Xena responds to Joxer differently than to anyone else. Despite her exasperation at his ineptness, she seems genuinely fond of him. Her character has been expanded by the way she looks out for him. She is often been the one to give pep talks and support, and she trusts him enough to assign him the occasional "mission." My appreciation for Xena and Joxer's interactions goes so far that when the fondness she usually shows is lacking, I get upset. I was frantically making up excuses for her behavior in SACRIFICE II (68/322) ("She's just tense, that's all! She's under a lot of stress!") until I realized that her abuse of Joxer was just a ploy.

[32] I also have a fondness for Joxer because he brings lightness to the episodes. I do not mind saying that I do not like the darker episodes as much as I like the comedies. Lucy Lawless has stated that the comedies are her favorites to do, and it shows in her acting. As good as the actors are in the dramas, they are even greater in the comedies. The actors seem to be having fun, too! Joxer adds a little fun to many scenes he plays, even just with a facial expression, and I appreciate that. I consider him a great dramatic actor, as well, but I like someone who can alleviate even his most dramatic scenes with a smile.

[33] Yes, I like Joxer's love for Gabrielle. It has broadened Ted Raimi's acting opportunities for the character. A A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222) had one of his best moments ever at the end. Joxer's feelings for Gabrielle have displayed more emotions in him than had been seen in any of his prior appearances, and give Joxer's character more focus and chance for growth. This room for growth, along with the comedic opportunities, keeps me hooked on the character.


What is...


the GJRS?

[34] The Gabrielle & Joxer Romantics Society is the "official" organization for Xenites who root for the "Underdog" relationship. Essentially it consists of a web page, a mailing list, and a web ring.

[35] The web page was created by Sandra (Maid Marian), who had to retire from running the page during the summer of 1998. Since then it has been taken over by Nancy (Aihne), who has revamped it and is now running it at http://members.xoom.com/gjrs/index.html.

[36] The mailing list was created by Sir Joxer, and was originally a small thing that consisted of copying all the addresses into the "To" field in each email! In June of 1998, it became automated and has grown extensively since then. The list is open to discussion, reviews of episodes, fanfics, and personal chatting. One does not have to be a GJR to post there, but it helps. People who are casual fans of Joxer are more than welcome, as long as they do not flame when the hardcore GJRs express views different from their own. To join the list, you can go to the GJRS web page and sign up or you can go to http://www.egroups.com/, look up "gjrs," and sign up for it directly.

[37] The web ring was created by Lothar, and is simply a ring to link all pages with any GJR content. It is small and to the point.


the JESSS?

[38] The Joxer Enthusiasts Supporting Sapphic Subtext is a still-growing mailing list with a very nicely done website. The organization was created in June 1998 by sockii, when she mentioned that she was a subtexter with a big fondness for Joxer. Upon finding out that many people were shocked at this supposed dichotomy, she created the mailing list and society to prove that subtexters and Joxerites are not mutually exclusive. The list is about liking Joxer and subtext, though again, any fan of Joxer is welcome to join and welcomed with open arms and open minds. (Opinions on Joxer's place in subtext do not always leave him out of the clinch, either.)

[39] The website was created in August 1998, and provides further explanation of the beliefs of the society, its mottoes, a way to sign up to the list, and a great graphic to use in support of Joxer and subtext. The page is located at http://www.geocities.com/Area51/Dreamworld/2417/index and is highly recommended. Remember, even in Lesbos, people strain pasta!


The Joxer Shields?

[40] The Joxer Shields is an unofficial organization of Joxer fans who defend the Mighty One from flames and defilement. It is a title, not a full-blown club or mailing list. Basically, if you want to be a Joxer Shield, you are one! For more information, contact the leader of the Joxer Shields at GGruschow@aol.com. He is always happy to have more cohorts!


the SACJM?

[41] SACJM is an aconym for the Society Against Cruelty to Joxer the Mighty! The mailing list was created in July 1998 by Sir Joxer, the creator of the GJRS list. In essence, SACJM is almost like a list version of the Joxer Shields; the prime motive is to keep people from bashing Joxer without resorting to flames or personal attacks. Discussions for pro-Joxer arguments are always welcome! Contact Sir Joxer at picard1@execpc.com for more information.


Conclusion

[42] In essence, there is something out there for any Joxer fan, no matter what his or her interest in the show is. In addition to the groups I listed, there are many others dedicated to Ted Raimi and to Joxer specifically. For anyone looking to join a Joxer-focused group, I recommend joining one of those I listed here and springboarding to other lists from there.

[43] In closing, I ask only that any readers who have a dislike of all things Joxer keep in mind that I did not write this to change your opinion of the character. I hope only that you give his fans the same courtesy you would give to fans of any other aspect of the show. We are a diverse, intelligent bunch of people, and shoving us into confined expectations is just crowded and uncomfortable for all of us.

[44] Meanwhile, I hope to see you on ATX!



Biography

Rebecca Littlehales Rebecca Littlehales
I discovered XWP in February 1997, and Joxer in July the same year- the latter has been the subject of most of my devotion. Getting into the show has helped me to sharpen my writing skills, both in fanfiction and in general essay-writing. The show has just been the latest in a long line of devotional obsessions, which have in the past included ST:TNG and Star Wars, and date as far back as "The Real Ghostbusters". I spend most of my time in real life either studying for my degree in psychology or doting on my friends and my better half.
Favorite episode: SACRIFICE II (68/322), MATERNAL INSTINCTS (57/311), THE QUILL IS MIGHTIER...(56/310), BEEN THERE, DONE THAT (48/302), A A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222), FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216), A NECESSARY EVIL (38/214), THE QUEST (37/213), THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210)
Favorite line: Xena: "Did I just say 'sweetie'? I've never used that word in my life! Oh, but he's so CUTE!" A COMEDY OF EROS (46/222)
First episode seen: THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210)
Least favorite episode: KEY TO THE KINGDOM (78/410), ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402), A TALE OF TWO MUSES (74/406)

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