Whoosh! Issue 43 - April 2000
Letters to the Editor




January Editorial and February Letters Thereupon

Date: Mon, 3 Jan 2000
From: Lunacy
Subject: Letter to the Editor

Creation acting as THE sole gatekeeper to the star of the show has been perceived by many in the fandom as a conflict of interests for a long time now. Creation makes money off Lucy and the show so it is in their business interests to filter whatever information gets to Lucy/RenPics so as to maximize their own profits. As fans we don't know what Creation's actual practices are with regards to Lucy/RenPics or what type of deal they have but what we do see is Creation making a mint out of autographed items because of course Lucy and some of the other stars no longer do autograph at cons and as far as Lucy is concerned unless you go through Creation there is no other way to get autographed items. I remember a LONG time ago - probably the second or third con Lucy appeared at that she decided she was no longer going to sign pictures and among the reasons given at the time was that Lucy didn't feel it was fair for the fans who had gold tickets (and who presumably were better off economically) to get the autographs while others didn't. Now, that would have made sense to me if she had simply stopped autographing stuff period but that's not the case. Lucy and the rest of the cast have continued to make available items to Creation who then sell those at a considerable profit - usually amounts that most of the gold circle buyers at cons couldn't themselves afford. Now, fine. I'm no idiot and I know that for them - Creation and RenPics AND the Xena cast this is largely all a business FOR profit. The problem is the mixed messages here. Lucy DOES indeed seem to be quite charitable and if that reason she gave long ago for no longer signing at cons is partly right (I suspect there was also a reluctance there to sit around signing autographs for 5 hrs. at every con which I can certainly understand) then that shows a concern on her part for an equal treatment of sorts for fans. So how is it better for fans now to ONLY be able to get autographed items from Creation at exorbitant prices or for organizations like S&S to almost never have autographed items available for charity auctions because Creation wont share those very profitable items and fans can't afford to buy them in order to donate them?

The problem here isn't Lucy necessarily. To be honest I don't keep up much with the lives of the actors so I don't know the specifics of her charitable work but I do know she's been involved with charities. The problem here is that Creation completely monopolizes access to Lucy so there's no way to tell what information gets to her, whether she knows that an organization like S&S exists and that it has requested autographed items for charity auctions, or if she even knows what Creation is doing with the items she does autograph for them.

This is an OLD issue in the Xenaverse that has been discussed on various lists at various times, that fans have challenged Creation privately through e-mail, phone calls, letters. I've even heard of people writing RenPics about it and still Creation continues to be the sole gatekeeper to Lucy, continues to make quite a profit out of that, and apparently continues to make sure Lucy items are hardly ever available through charity auctions so the Lucy items it sells directly and/or through E-Bay go for a mint. Now, if that's what Creation and RenPics and Lucy have decided on that's fine. It is certainly their prerogative and it is no doubt profitable for them BUT I don't have a problem with people challenging them for that either and unfortunately it is only through an editorial on a well-known, respected web site like WHOOSH which Xena staffers have been known to visit that such a challenge has any hope of at least coming to the attention of all the parties involved because Creation would probably filter anything else. I applaud you Kym for addressing the issue. WHOOSH has long had a finger on the pulse of the fandom and this is one controversy that has been years in the making with fans frequently discussing it both in private, on public forums and in person at conventions. Nothing may come of it but clearly companies and individuals aren't going to have much on an incentive to change their business practices unless someone points out problems with those and challenges them on it.

Lunacy

Editors Note: This letter was inadvertantly left out of the February letters to the editor section.






Date: Fri, 03 Mar 2000
From: Cathy
Subject: Letter to the Editor

In her letter titled The Big Ado Linda Mallory wrote: "Judging from the Letters to the Editor in February's Whoosh!, the incredible revisionist defenses of the January editorial would have it that the focus of your criticism was Lucy Lawless's representatives -- or we should have known it was."

Revisionism? What pompous rubbish. Just because Kym didn't repeat the word 'representatives' ad nauseum throughout her editorial, you can't hold that simple context in your head? Perhaps Kym should drop the clueless a note for next time, asking them how big, bright and shiny they need the plastic letters to be.

Cathy



Subtext or Subconscious

From: SUEDRESSEL
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2000
Subject: Letter to Editor

In reading the article Subtext or Subconscious, it seems to me that the author got mixed up about ego Vs superego. Isn't Gabrielle the Ideal, the person Xena aspires to become (at times)? That is the superego, as far as I know. But the theme of the article was an interesting one. Of course, in combination, Xena and Gabrielle are a strong 'Ego' force that allows them to meet their needs, especially to survive in very difficult times. Like the original Star Trek series, where Capt. Kirk is split in half, and recognizes that he needs both parts to survive, so do Xena and Gabrielle need each other for that same function. And now lately, both Xena and Gabrielle display assimilated characteristics of the other. That displays personal growth for both as characters, but in terms of drama for the show it creates a problem. Its the disparate elements in conflict that drew a lot of us as fans to the show.

It will be interesting to see how the producers solve this dilemma, or whether they do.

Regards,
Sue D.

PS. Thanks for all the hard work all of you do to create this magazine. Lots of us take it for granted at times.

Thank you for your interest in my article! I found it a fascinating subject myself, but I did do some extensive research and consulted with a friend who has taken some Freudian psychology courses. Now, I am not a psychologist nor in any way connected with the mental health field. It is merely the subject matter that intrigues me. The definitions that are contained in the article are a condensed form of Freud's own theories, as I understood them, and there are actual definitions of the words from the Mirriam-Webster's Dictionary. Your points a good ones and valid, but the ego is who we wish to be and the superego is what translates the id (which is who we actually are) to ego! At least that is what my research turned up for me. If I'm wrong and you have a link I can go to consult further, I will gladly check it out and make a correction. I do stand by my interpretations of Freudian theory in relation to Xena and Gabrielle. Thanks again for your comments.

Janet Elizabeth Swainston





Joan of Arc

From: Mayt
Date: Mon, 21 Feb 2000
Subject: Joan of Arc and Gabrielle...

Just wanted to send my complements on your article. I appreciate the scholarship on Joan and your juxtaposition of Joan and Gabrielle. Personally, I feel they were more different than alike. I am curious if and how you would expand and/or change your thesis given Season 5.

Maytee






From: Kmedolson
Date: Sun, 5 Mar 2000
Subject: (no subject)

Thank you for that excellent article on Joan of Arc/Gabrielle. Your historical research is exquisite, and the parallels are thoughtful and striking. I agree completely that Joan's reputation suffers undeservedly, especially given these parallels. I didn't read the Chakram interview, but based on your excerpts I also consider their interpretation prejudiced, not only against Joan but against crusaders ( another much-misunderstood historical phenomenon). I hope Chakram readers take a second look at Joan of Arc through your article.

Your article also got me thinking:

*I don't know what you mean by Joan not being a "major" saint. Most survey books of saints include her, schools and parishes around the world are named for her, and litanies and novenas frequently invoke her. She may not be up there with the BVM (who is?), but in popular devotion she far exceeds, say, St. Dioscorus, St. Edbert, St. Denis of Augsberg, or the martyrs of Nagasaki.

Being in the top 100 still puts her at the high 1%. And, certainly, no one would say that St Joan is enjoying the dance of the blessed in paradise any less than any other saint.

You correctly point out that her conduct in life was not on the meek-and-mild side, but this is not an issue in canonization. "Plaster saint" is a contradiction in terms; real saints are humble toward God but not necessarily to others (one reason they often get killed), and unlike statues they come in bewildering variety.

A great many saints would make appalling dinner guests. St Bridget of Sweden did not hesitate to call the reigning Pope "a murderer of souls", St Louis the King had a ferocious temper he struggled with all his life, and St Catherine of Siena almost single-handedly badgered the papacy back to Rome from Avignon. Joan is certainly eccentric as saints go, but mild compared to, say, St. Simeon the Stylite.

* The current popular take in academia on Joan's trials is to view her execution as religiously motivated and her rehabilitation as politically motivated. I question this, not least because these are modern categories that Joan and her contemporaries would not have admitted. To them, God ruled everything and in everything, even politics. Yes, the court at first gave her 'life' instead of death, but this does not necessarily mean they were any less a hanging court.

It could as well mean that even kangaroo courts can go only so far. Compare Joan's trial to that of Jesus: Jesus was tried for His life at night, cross-examined by a judge, and ultimately convicted by a legal formula that should have granted him immunity, all illegal by the Mishnah law code. Yet the judges were also very scrupulous about the rules of evidence; all witnesses against Jesus had their testimony thrown out, even the part about destroying and rebuilding the Temple, because the law required two or more witnesses to tell the exact same story without contradiction from other witnesses. Some things can be ignored by courts and justified later by exigent circumstances. But even hanging courts cannot fudge the basis of a conviction, lest they give away the fact that they are hanging courts.

Joan's trial fits this pattern. As you related, the court turned extraordinary pressure on Joan until it obtained a recantation (which Joan could not read), and then executed her only when she repudiated it, in a way they could justify to other ecclesiastics. While I don't say the Inquistors were "English puppets", they didn't have to be. They certainly didn't regard Joan as just another heresy case.

As for her rehabilitation, Joan was a dead issue for the french king until Joan's family and a group of ecclesiastics agitated for a retrial, and if they used the political situation to get what they thought was right, so too have a lot of people, from St Paul to activists of our own time.

* I am grateful for favorable treatments of Joan recently, in contrast to the usual Hollywood treatment of religiously motivated people, and your article is a splendid example of this. But I am disturbed by the trend of even her admirers to defend her on the grounds that, so to speak, "she isn't as Catholic as she appears to be". That is, they correctly point out that she was not a bloodthirsty, power-mad marauder, nor a goose-stepping android in thrall to angry, domineering priests, nor a sexually-repressed madwoman blabbering about voices, nor a simpering female kowtowing to men, but still seem to take it for granted that the Church is filled with such people (and only such people).

Pace your article, Joan was not a rebel against the nobility or the Church, but rather an extreme (and bizarre) case of a reformer, of which the Church has had a great many. Yet it seems many people just can't picture a strong, take-charge woman as being also a faithful Catholic. In the most extreme case of this, I recently saw a fantasy novel with the ridiculous premise of Joan not being Catholic at all, but rather secretly being a priestess in an ancient earth-mother cult.

Something similar has happened to Martin Luther King. By vocation and training he was a Protestant minister, yet every MLK day one never hears any mention of this. I routinely hear "quotes" of Dr King that are actually scripture, and at his funeral a TV reporter said it was fitting that he be buried in a churchyard "because his father was a minister". Dr King did what he did from an unabashedly Christian understanding of justice, but again that doesn't fit with California humanism's picture of Christianity as a) evil, and b) dead as a social force, so Dr King like Joan has been taken entirely out of context.

Thank you for listening to me rant and rave:-) I enjoyed your article thoroughly and I welcome the new perspective it gave me on Joan of Arc, most especially where I disagreed with it.

Andrew Olson
Xenite since: March 1997 (The Destiny episode)
Catholic since: September 1991 (yep, I volunteered)
Favorite episode: The Crusader (they kept you guessing if Najara was good or evil)
Least favorite episode: The Convert (they reverted to prejudicial stereotyping)






Dissecting Gabrielle

From: A.L.Shaughnessy
Sent: Friday, March 03, 2000
Subject: Letters to the Editor

I would just like to say how interesting and enjoyable I found Trish Shields' article DISSECTING GABRIELLE in Issue 42. She really seems to have a handle on Gabrielle's motives, especially her sense of duty which is the only logical explanation for her getting married like that. It also makes a refreshing change to see a "middle way" taken in the great subtext debate, with Gabrielle still trying to come to terms with her feelings for Xena.

It seems to me that Xena and Gabrielle's relationship (up to the end of Season Three at least) is one of feelings rather than actions. This is clearly signalled in FISH, FEMMES AND GEMS when Gabrielle tells her friend "I looked into your eyes, and Xena, I finally realised there can only be one person for me in my life...me!" Until that final, fatal word Xena's expression is that of someone who is seeing all her dreams coming true. She even starts to say something which may be "I feel the same way about you" or "I've waited so long to hear you say that". Of course, she never gets the chance, but the intent is there.

This reaffirms my belief that Xena is in love with Gabrielle, but afraid to say so for fear of rejection. She would rather live in hope that her friend will make the first move than risk losing her forever through an ill-timed declaration of love. I personally feel this vulnerability makes Xena a far more appealing character. Whether she, like Joxer (with whom I really sympathise), is driving up a one way street remains to be seen, but I won't be holding my breath.

Andrew Shaughnessy
Wrexham, Wales






Spiritual Journeys

Subj: Spiritual Quest
Date: 02/08/2000
From: REllenR21

Wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoyed your Whoosh article and am looking forward to the Season 5 follow-up....






Subj: Xena article
Date: 02/15/2000
From: roc law

I just read your article in Whoosh on the Spiritual journeys in Xena. I thoroughly enjoyed your article especially after having read the synopsis for "Amphipolis Under Seige" and feeling despondent that maybe the death of 'Subtext" is now real and there isn't much we can do about it. I felt the way you drew your analysis of the development of Xena and Gabrielle throughout the fourth season captured many of the reasons why I became drawn to Xena in the first place. The strength of the relationship up until the fifth season has been a delight and a challenge to watch. Unfortunatley I feel an ill wind blowing in regards to any further development of their relationship, spiritual or otherwise- unless RJ Stewart takes a stance on continuing his vision of Gabrielle from other seasons. Once the tide has turned I doubt it will change again. Xenastaff have often baulked at having written themselves into a subtext corner and now they seem free I think rampant Heterosexuality will dominate.

Again thanks for the article,
yours sincerely,
Irene.







Subj: The Fourth Season: Spiritual Journeys
Date: 02/28/2000
From: Jim Yuen

Thank you very much for your insightful article in Whoosh. I enjoyed your take on the spiritual journey of both Xena and Gabrielle and fully agree with you.

I find XWP so special because of the growth of the heroines and the fact that they are human and make human mistakes and yearn to grow in life.

Again, thanks for a great article.

Jim
(a MerPup)






Forget FORGET ME NOT? Forget It!

From: A.L.Shaughnessy
Sent: Friday, March 03, 2000
Subject: Letters to the Editor

Having read Ariadne de la Montagne's letter in Issue 42, there are several things I would like to say.

Firstly, I'd like to thank her for reading my letter in the first place! As someone who only discovered Whoosh! in December 1999, it's nice to get feedback so quickly.

Secondly, as I'm currently watching Season Three for the first time, Ariadne clearly has a far greater depth of knowledge than I do. I was merely describing things as I saw them at that stage in the series. If I had seen the later episodes, my views may well have been different. That's what you get for living out in the Styx....sorry, couldn't resist it.

Thirdly, I am in total agreement with Ariadne when she asks "who knows what goes on in the minds of the writers?" I mean, FORGET ME NOT - what in Tartarus is that all about? Not only does Gabrielle act completely out of character, the episode contradicts or simply ignores past events. I find THE DELIVERER painful to watch because of what happens to Gabrielle, but regard it as a masterpiece of misdirection. As I knew nothing of The Rift at the time I first saw this episode, the loss of her blood innocence was doubly shocking. FORGET ME NOT, on the other hand, comes over as a case of gratuitous Gabby-bashing. I've had real trouble trying to figure just why it was made in the first place.

The reasons for its creation seem to originate in The Rift itself. Gabrielle is portrayed as misguided, but her motives are always pure. Her instinct to protect her daughter's life is totally in character. She later betrays Xena out of her "reverence for life" and fear that her friend would revert to the cold-blooded killer of old ("I thought I was saving you"). Finally, her desperate wish for Hope to be the one good outcome of her visit to Britannia leads her to make a fatal error of judgement. Gabrielle is often mistaken, and this costs both her and Xena a great deal, but there is no malice in her. Xena is less fortunate in her portrayal. She is initially motivated by her hatred of Caesar, then runs roughshod over her friend's feelings in GABRIELLE'S HOPE and THE DEBT I. She lies to conceal the death of Ming T'ien, and finally becomes a homicidal maniac. At the end of THE BITTER SUITE it is Xena who is left begging for forgiveness, not Gabrielle.

The Powers That Be may have felt that they had gone a little too far in this negative portrayal of the Warrior Princess. In FORGET ME NOT they had a chance to tie up a couple of loose ends and redress the balance. I do feel, however, that the method of execution was flawed. To begin with, where is the evidence of the guilt which has supposedly tormented Gabrielle since her return from China? In most of the episodes, including several during The Rift itself, she is the cheerful young woman we all know. She apologises to Xena for her betrayal in ONE AGAINST AN ARMY, but explicitly states "I never meant to hurt you", something flatly contradicted in the later episode. Note that both here and during their reconciliation in THE DEBT II one of them is apparently facing certain death. Surely Gabrielle would not wish to be parted from her best friend with a lie standing between them? The implication that she would do so robs Gabrielle of an essential part of her character, her moral courage.

Even if we assume that Gabrielle has somehow managed to conceal her guilt (apart from talking in her sleep - does that strike anyone else as just a bit too convenient?), why does she still harbour these feelings? I thought all the hatred, resentment and guilt of The Rift had been taken care of in THE BITTER SUITE. Remember that Xena was unable to pass through the water curtain because of her own guilty secret, yet Gabrielle had no difficulty at all. This indicates her conscience was clear.

As for jealousy of Lao Ma being a motive, the "air dancing" scene from THE DEBT II is included to reinforce this assertion, yet Gabrielle knew nothing of the events of that episode at the time Xena left her. The only time Lao Ma had featured in the story was in Borias' camp when Xena tried to kill her, hardly an act of love. Ares' comment "Xena would never do anything like this for you" is patently absurd - look at all the times Xena has risked everything to save her friend. His overly casual "That's if you don't mind owing the God of War a favour" should also have put Gabrielle on her guard, and yet he plays her like a lyre. This is a real insult to her intelligence.

For me, FORGET ME NOT is the low point of the first three seasons. Other stories may not have been up to the standard of IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE? or A DAY IN THE LIFE, but they still made some kind of sense. The contradictions in this episode put it in a class of its own. I realise it was necessary for Gabrielle to owe Ares a favour he could call in later, and it does at least answer the question of how she got to China first, but surely there was a better way to do it? After all the physical and emotional abuse she suffered in Season Three, character assassination is just adding insult to injury.

Andrew Shaughnessy
Wrexham, Wales






German Fan Needs Help! Willing to Beg!

From: Tracy C. Baker
Sent: Sunday, March 26, 2000
Subject: help a xenite in exile, please

say, you guys have a most excellent website, for which i, writing from my exile in the cold flatlands of northern germany, truly thank you.

and i'm hoping you can help me with a major problem i face. i need to find a source for high-quality, english-language tapes of XWP most urgently. i've been stuck here since the middle of the third season without seeing and hearing xena, gabrielle, callisto, joxer and the rest in their native tongue. Even though I do watch the German XWP, I've missed a number of key episodes (both debts, for instance) and the German stations don't do summer repeats so . . . Beyond that, the quality of the translations is . . . well, less than one might wish.

So help me please hold onto my sanity here with a couple of leads on a reliable source for high-quality tapes - actually I'd like to get the whole four seasons (we're just ending the fourth now with the first episode of the two-parter where caesar crucifies xwp and g) so i have an archive. over here, at least, there's no trace of english-language xwp's in the video stores or book stores or fantasy-gaming stores - for that matter, there's no trace of english tlj tapes either, though i have seen two first-season tlj tapes in german.

what can i offer in return for your help? geez, i don't know. a big thank-you? a hearty handshake? certainly a guided tour of hamburg and berlin if you ever come over here (or of detroit if i ever move back to the us). beyond that, you tell me what i could do to thank a person who helps save my sanity.

and thanks again for such a first-class website. the episode synopses aren't the same as seeing XWP + G on the screen, but they're a great thing.

cheers
Tracy C. Baker








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