Whoosh! Issue 38 - November 1999
Editor's Page

From the Editor-in-Chief: SUBTEXT AND KICKING HINDER

From the Editor-in-Chief: SUBTEXT AND KICKING HINDER

As if I do not have enough to do in either my REAL LIFE (tm) or the XENAVERSE (tm), I have started on a project where I am collecting all the "subtext" scenes in XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS (XWP). I already have done the first volume (two hours of non-stop subtext action gleaned from the first seventeen episodes of the series). I have started a second volume, and will be finished with the first season soon.

I tested out volume one at a pre-convention party in San Francisco over the weekend of October 15th. Although it was mythically long, it went over well (considering) and no one was verbally abusive. I am anticipating that I will have the subtext project done through the most current episodes by the Pasadena Convention in late January 2000.

Doing these tapes has made me fall back in love with the show. It has also aided me in discovering a deeper appreciation for what I consider to be the true subtext of the series, that which is the slow and ever deepening relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. Whether it was done purposely, accidentally, serendipitously or, by dumb luck, this subtext is one of the great things about the show. It is what has kept me watching for five very long years. It is empowering to watch a friendship between two women develop slowly and consistently without the traditional things getting in the way (i.e, husband, family, competiton over males, petty rivalries, etc) . It is something that just ain't seen on TV, at least not until now.

Doing this project, though time consuming, has made me appreciate the show and its contribution to our social psyche through some very subversive sublimation techniques. We live in a society where it is frowned upon showing affection openly to the same sex unless it is under some highly ritualized bait and switch tactic, and this is true whether one is gay or straight. The level of sublimation that XWP is giving to society right now is unprecedented and very subversive. What kind of effect is this having on those still malleable minds who are watching XENA day in and day out? Or even the casual viewer who tunes in every now and then? They are both, and everyone between, are seeing two adult women in a loving relationship that is shown for the most part as a positive and an enviable relationship to be in. I for one, am convinced that this show is not only allowing lesbians to see some of their hitherto ignored life reflected in the great society known as TV, but also are making straight women more embracing, accepting, and desirable of intimate relationships with other women.

This is great stuff, my friends. Vehicles of social change of such a fundamental nature do not happen everyday. Be proud of your association with a fandom of a silly TV show that will be seen in the future as a significant part of a societal catalyst.

A friend has encouraged me to do a similar tape to the subtext one, but one which emphasizes Xena as one tough chick. I initially decided to do it out of loyalty to a friend, but now that I have started it, I am finding that it has aspects to it that are just as compelling and just as significant as those I discovered while making the subtext videos.

Again, making this new tape, I am struck by the power that Xena iconizes. You have to see Xena do this stuff to believe how intense and how subversive it is. It is very empowering seeing a woman as the ultimate protector, rescuer, and authority figure. I am making a tape which is just non-stop clips of Xena kicking hinder and taking names. Very powerful, very fundamental, very profound, and very subversive stuff.

Even the silly comedy fight in CRADLE OF HOPE plays with multiple archetypes. Xena beating up guys and protecting women and children while even a delicate baby poses no problems. Xena just tosses the kid into the air when she needs both hands. The assuredness, the faith in herself to make sure everyone is safe, and her ability to pull it all off, is very inspirational and highly attractive. Let's face it, how many people when they fantasize, fantasize themselves being victims or having to be rescued? No, they see themselves as standing up to injustice, to inhumanity, and kicking hinder in a good way.

Many of the fight scenes teem with a potency which is enhanced by the iconography of a woman fulfilling and satisfying the archetype of the protector/rescuer/crusader. This hearkens back and perhaps pulls out of us a yearning to return to the icons of the Goddess which still perhaps lies deep in our psyches, dormant until now. Dormant until watching a half-clad in leather chick beat up a troop and a half of grungy unwashed males. Who cares how it is happening, isn't it wonderful that after so long, it finally is?

And what happens when you take an exposition on the power inherent in one woman and have it collide head on and merge with the power inherent in the spiritual and emotional bonds capable of being plumbed between women? I guess you get XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS. Scary, eh?

And as a Quick After Thought...

Even though XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS gets weird and wacky, it is most refreshing seeing interracial/interethnic relationships portrayed without it being made a plot point or a poltical statement or even a subconscious/conscious attempt at perpetuating or not perpetuating stereotypes. I am happy the show is returning to Chin. I am happy the show went to India. It is refreshing seeing so many diverse peoples working together and demonstrating that racial or ethnic homogeneity is not required for the audience to enjoy the show.

Kym Masera Taborn
Executive Committee
Calabasas, California
October 25, 1999


San Francisco is one unusual town. One could very easily leave one's heart in San Francisco. Also one's wallet. It's not a cheap town for the tourist. The contrasts between rich and poor, high and low, have and have not, are very dramatic. I've been in several large cities both in the USA and abroad, and I've never seen so many homeless people in so few blocks. It's a sobering experience.

The reason I came to San Francisco in the first place was to attend the HERC/XENA convention. As regards the convention itself, it was very nice. I found it to be well organised and orderly. The biggest complaint I overheard from HERC fans was that there was very little in the way of HERC merchandise to purchase. The crowd was small -- almost at intimate levels -- and the gathering resembled a fest rather than a convention in the way people conducted themselves.

Many people knew others and those that didn't seemed to get on quite well with their fellow conventioneers. I observed people to be helpful, courteous, and friendly. I saw some familiar faces and was glad to pause to say "hi". It would have been nice to chat longer, but since I attend conventions so infrequently these days I find myself "working" most of the time while I'm there and that leaves little free time to enjoy the convention itself, much less schmooze with fellow fans.

The guests were all interesting and entertaining, and all were received well.

Rob "I am not Gina Torres" Field was robbed out of some of his stage time, since he was brought on late but ended on time. He had more material to show us but we didn't get to see it, alas. His appearances are the only opportunity fans have to see "lost" footage.

I had my doubts about how Tim "Eli" Omundson would be received after reading some of the reviews of his Eli character. But Tim charmed his audience and was very well received. He was a very good choice as a convention guest.

Joel Tobeck, Kevin Smith, and Danielle Cormack were also welcomed with great enthusiasm. each of them were cheered at their individual speaking times, but all these were magnified exponentially at the cabaret Saturday night.

Events such as the cabaret are a great opportunity for fans to see people in a setting which may be unfamiliar to them. Most USA fans only know Joel Tobeck as Strife, but his acting resume is much more diverse than that, and he is also quite an accomplished musician. Other than such an opportunity as the San Francisco cabaret, you'd have to be a fan of New Zealand cutting-edge music to hear him perform. We've heard Kevin Smith sing in the XENA episode THE BITTER SUITE, and a few fans who were in the right place at the right time have heard him sing karaoke in Orlando, but that was it. Who knew Danielle Cormack has a very powerful singing voice? Very few. Who knew that Adam from Creation Entertainment could play keyboards? Fewer yet.

The cabaret brought home the notion that we can all be artistically inclined in a variety of areas. We can learn an instrument, learn to sing, learn to dance, act, write, draw, or otherwise lend a creative muse to our everyday lives. When I watched people perform at the cabaret I saw in their eyes that they weren't doing it because they were compelled to -- they were doing it because they wanted to and because they felt sheer joy in doing so. And it would be hard not to enjoy performing to an enthusiastic crowd who was glad to just have you there, let alone be able to see you do something that, for them, is very unusual.

This leads me back to one final comment that ties into my observation of San Francisco being such a visible have/have not town. It seems to me, as time goes by, that fandom is becoming more that way as well.

On the one hand, I applaud Creation Entertainment for being so efficient, helpful, and accessible during the last couple of conventions I've attended. My experience in that respect has been a very positive one. They've all been very nice to me and I like the people I've met who work for them.

On the other hand, the trend of "pay per view" for separate events is a little unsettling to me. In the past, fan clubs have sponsored brunches with guests at non-profit rates during weekends of the convention. Now sometimes there are breakfasts or brunches sponsored by Creation at extra cost. In Orlando, fans were able to spontaneously watch or participate in a karaoke/cabaret with guests and other fans for free -- you just all had to be in the right place at the right time, spontaneously. With the San Francisco convention, and future conventions, there are convention-sponsored cabarets that are events one must pay to attend separately.

I'm not saying that anyone involved in this is evil, bad, unscrupulous, or "wrong". These are all good opportunities for fans. But as a fan who got involved in fandom for the express purpose of sharing information and documenting the history of HERC and XENA for free, for anyone who has Internet access, I just wish it all could be a little more... amicable.

It would be nice if a convention could just be all-inclusive. People could attend what appeals, skip what doesn't, and mingle with each other when and how they choose. I wouldn't want to encounter fans on the steps of a convention site, oversize paper cup in hand, saying "Spare ticket? Buddy, can you help me out? I just need a ticket, man."

Heck, at some of these prices, I might end up being one of them.

Bret Rudnick
Graphics Editor
Executive Committee
Boston, Massachusetts
25 October 1999

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