To write to the editor regarding your comments, observations, and questions about Whoosh!, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and mark the subject "Letter to the Editor" to expedite the process. All letters received by the editor are subject to publication and may be edited. Due to the volume received, some letters may not be answered individually or receipt acknowledged and may be published at the editor's discretion. Letters received after the 15th of the month may be reserved for a later issue.
In My Life
Death of a Warrior
"Xena, That's Not Right"
The Mojo That Once Was and Poll Results (Kym's Editorial)
Group Therapy Issue
The Genesis and Deconstruction of a Hero
More on the SIN TRADE Question
Surprised and Entertained #260-298
Group Therapy #151-162
Cut That Cord...NOW! #086-117
Surprised and Entertained #299-338
Group Therapy #163-173
Surprised and Entertained #339
Group Therapy #174-187
Group Therapy #188-201
Group Therapy #202-212
Group Therapy #213-219
Group Therapy #220-226
Group Therapy #227-229
Group Therapy #230-239
Group Therapy #240-250
Group Therapy #251-260
Group Therapy #261-266
Group Therapy #267-274
Group Therapy #275-279
Group Therapy #280-282
Group Therapy #283-288
Group Therapy #289-294
Group Therapy #295-298
In My Life
From: Christine Flora
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2001 8:04 AM
Subject: Letter to Editor...
Thank you so much ... for creating such a lovely tribute to PD. She definitely touched many lives. Mine was but one. She will be missed."No one's death comes to pass without making some impression, and those close to the deceased inherit part of the liberated soul and become richer in their humanness."- Hermann Broch
Death of a Warrior
From: Jane Fletcher
Subject: THE DEATH OF A WARRIOR
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 00:12:17 +0100
I've just read your article in Whoosh.
...I agreed with everything you wrote. Not only did you manage to phrase it all a lot better than I could have, but reading it helped me sort out my own, and other people's reactions.
I'd been surprised by all the negative response to FIN. While reading your article I suddenly remembered myself, age 10, reading Le Morte D'Arthur (abridged for children) for the first time. I remembered the pain and the sense of betrayal when reading of the battle of Camlann. However, Malory was long dead, and quite immune to my ranting and pleas to go away and rewrite the ending.
By now I've read so much mythology that I think I'd feel vaguely cheated if the hero didn't die in the final chapter.
"Xena, That's Not Right"
From: Jackie Simpson
Sent: Tuesday, August 14, 2001 5:37 PM
I read the article in Whoosh that you wrote. It was right on target. You said everything I had thought and felt about the last episode of Xena. You literally took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you for voicing all of that for me because you said it all so very well.
Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2001 4:25 PM
Subject: Whoosh Group Therapy Issue
As one who has been writing critical (and positive) episode reviews of Xena since the 3rd season, I suppose I am in the target audience for your article [Puzzled by Nathan Epstein, Whoosh #59 (08/01)]. I think your points are well thought out, and I agree with your closing sentiment that hopes fan fiction will provide a more rousing ending. But I would like to comment on criticism, per se.
Armchair quarterbacking is a popular sport, and easy to do, as you don't have to actually make the product, just nitpick or praise as the whim strikes you. I understand this, yet also feel the finale deserves criticism in a number of areas.
Ultimately Rob Tapert is entitled to follow his vision. He certainly shouldn't have to follow the preconceived notions of a bunch of internet fans, what self-respecting producer would?
Well, you don't have to follow the recommendation of fans and critics, but you can at least acknowledge them without dismissing them. In interviews over the seasons, the producers have seemed dismissive of any criticism of the show as the disgrunted musings of a handful of misfits. Not exactly a positive way to take criticism, is it? If you make a public product, you can be criticized. It's the nature of the business.
I would contrast Rob Tapert with Buffy producer Joss Whedon. Here is a man that regularly interacts with fans on the official Buffy message board, and was neither demeaned by the process or had his show adversely affected. Rob Tapert doesn't interact with the fans, which I think was unfortunate. It's possible he would have had a different ending had he been a quarterly (or yearly) poster on the now-defunct Xena NetForum. If he did he might have seen some of the criticism out there you describe.
The first topic you take issue with is criticism the finale was too violent. I'm sorry, but a significant contrast exists on RenPics own shows. Was Hercules' body stripped naked, decapitated, and strung up in a humiliating manner to drive home the corpse's degraded state? For that matter, was Hercules' spirit form then stripped naked (in a separate scene), and forced to kneel in abject sexual servitude to his master? No?
Pretty hard to brush off Xena's treatment as run of the mill, I think rather it is a reprise of what Rob Tapert wrote in Who's Gurkhan. Rob Tapert was quite consistent there with what he had in the finale. Xena's depiction in these episodes went against everything Xena once stood for as far as female empowerment, and how women would be portrayed in this show. Read the Whoosh episode reviews for the very first episode, Sins of the Past. One reviewer noted how in the head-walking fight scene, not one villager looked up Xena's skirt. Obviously that writing mentality changed in later seasons. ;)
The next complaint you grapple is a trend to kill off female action leads. I personally would have had no problem with Xena and Gabrielle dying for some cause, many Xenites expected this to be their demise. But Xena had a pointless death, not a noble death. There's a big difference. Xena's death was obviously a contrived insertion into a standard Xena script, her death was not a requirement of the plot by any means. This indicates laziness, and sloppiness by the writers, not closure.
The final complaint you take on is that Xena's death has an air of finality to it. While it's true Xena has died before, this death carries quite a stigma around it that previous near-death experiences haven't. Rob Tapert teed off a vast majority of the fanbase, Xenites who have pledged to never buy any more Xena merchandize, or attend Xena conventions. Furthermore, many such as myself have pledged never again to take the slightest interest in any of his future projects, and word of mouth is often what helps new television shows get off the ground. He's lost all of that.
Which brings us to a simple fact. Criticism aside, Rob Tapert as a producer is certainly entitled to follow his master vision wherever it may lead. I would never take issue with his right to follow his dreams. I simply choose never to be interested in any of his projects again. He has every right to discount fan reaction, and I have every right to never willingly see anything by Rob Tapert on television or at the theater again. I find that an equitable arrangement, and no anger or criticism need enter into the equation.
I don't believe Rob Tapert lied in his interview with Bret Rudnick when he stated he would never kill the characters off. I think it's a fair assumption that he changed his mind. But while he has every right to change his mind, I have the same right to boycott everything he does from now on. There are better producers out there, producers who respond positively to fan input (like Joss Whedon), and I'd much rather give my time and money to real men like him. Rob Tapert is cut from a different cloth.
Again thank you for your thought-provoking article, look at all the things you helped me think through just here. I do consider such articles theurapedic, as the month's topic suggests. :)
Nathan Epstein responds:Thanks for the response! It's nice to know someone read the article and thought about it. But there's something I'd like to know: why didn't you stop watching the show after "The Bitter Suite"? It's true that the first two seasons weren't nearly as graphic as the rest of the show, but I don't see how the treatment of Xena in the finale was worse than her treatment of Gabrielle in TBS. I remember there were similar criticisms of that episode, with it's abusive relationship subtext, but we kept watching. What made "Friend in Need" the final straw? Just the fact that it was the final episode?
I disagree that her death was pointless. She didn't think it was pointless, and she was the one doing it. She died believing it would help people, and that is a hero's death. Regardless of whether it makes sense or not. And she did in fact save the people of that village by doing so (both the living and the dead).
I never watched Hercules much, but it was a much lighter show (part of why it didn't draw me) and therefore there's no reason to compare the two. Just because David Lynch created both "Lost Highway" and "The Straight Story" doesn't mean they have to have anything in common, or that we should be disappointed when they don't.
I have to say, I have also been disappointed, on a number of occasions, by statements the producers have made about the show, and particularly about the fans. (Josh Becker is by far the worst.) It's true they have no obligation to us in any way, but that shouldn't prevent them from being decent to the people who put them where they are today. I've pretty much stopped paying attention to them, but as I have continued to enjoy the show, I would certainly be interested in any continuation of it. My point was that if you ignore the people behind the show, and just look at the show, I think the ending was consistent in tone and in character. If you have continued to enjoy the show throughout it's run, what was the problem with the last episode? And if you have not enjoyed the show since the third season or so, why have you kept watching?
thanks again for the response,
The Mojo That Once Was and Poll Results (Kym's Editorial)
From: Sue Dressel
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2001 8:41 AM
I'm sitting here in a state of awe after having just read your message. What an insightful, soul disclosing piece of work you did. And the sadness and pain that you share hits me as well. Phew! Needless to say that I agree with you that we all yearn for a soulmate in some form or another, and to find one even for a short while is such a high, and Xena really does tap that desire really well!
I made a very good friend through your magazine, in the letters to the editor page, and I'm eternally grateful. Even if there are times when she and I are clearly not soulmates, there have been other times that we have experienced some of that congruence and it brought such joy to my life.
Thanks for sharing your experience so powerfully. And please take time to get out to the beach! You richly deserve it.
Regards, Sue D.
Sent: Wednesday, August 01, 2001 9:49 AM
I just wanted to say how much I liked what you said in your editorial. I felt like I could have written it myself. Thanks
From: Donna Scism
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2001 5:03 PM
Subject: Just a brief note to thank and support you
I wanted to send you my appreciation! You described the yearning phenomenon exquisitely; I'm impressed by your ability to put that insupportable emotion into words. I love your writing.
To better times . . .
Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2001 8:37 PM
Subject: August Editorial
Let me thank you for your wonderful essay on One Against an Army. For those like me who forgot specific acts of the episode, thanks for replaying it bit by bit.
That episode was a tragedy for the Xenaverse, to me it represented just how discordant and disconnected the writing on the show had become. Here was the most powerful subtext episode ever aired, and where was it? Juxtaposed between The Bitter Suite and Forgiven, two of the most virulently relationship-hostile episodes ever conceived.
To me it was the airing of One Against an Army that was bitter sweet. The Xena of Bitter Suite bore no resemblance to the same woman presented to us next week. How was I the viewer to reconcile this? One week, Xena joyously soaks Gabrielle from head to toe in her own blood. The next, Xena expresses grave concern when Gabrielle coughs up a speck of blood. The difference was profound, and utterly ridiculous.
One Against an Army was written by outsiders, who sadly were never invited to write a Xena episode again. They represented perhaps the subtext view, or at least the relationship view. The Bitter Suite was written by the establishment producers and writers, those who were following their "master vision" for the show. (They thought the big apology should be for Ming Tien, who would care about that exciting GabDrag business?)
For many polls afterwards, I would see One Against an Army ranked by Xenites as one of the best all-time episodes. I never could. For while it was a magnificent episode, I knew in my gut it did not represent the vision of those who produced the show from week to week. Forgiven represented that, and RJ Stewart's vision held more sway than the vision presented by OAAA writers O'Neil and Tobin.
I got way sidetracked there on my own issues, let me emphasize again my thanks for you highlighting what for many of us was the main attraction of watching Xena:WP, the relationship. I'm glad OAAA represented that to you."I should like to think that all of us would love to have what Xena and Gabrielle had regardless of how we characterize the relationship."
Thank you. You just crystalized precisely why I became a Xena subtext bard in the show's 3rd season. I could not have written ONE WORD without that premise. Thank you for remembering. :)
I wish you and Whoosh well in your future endeavors. We all participated in something unique in fandom. I don't think our fannish efforts were in vain, because the sentiments behind those efforts are still quite valid. The sentiments we all saw in the third act of that episode. ;)
From: James John Forsyth
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2001 7:25 PM
Subject: Thank You
Thank you for so eloquently expressing what it was about Xena and Gabrielle that made us CARE, really care about them.
one of the legions of the Disappointed
From: Dafydd ap Thomas
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2001 4:11 AM
Subject: letters to the Editor - Ona Against an Army
ONE AGAINST AN ARMY
The best episode ever. Three years later and it still makes me weep.
After the emotional roller coaster of BITTER SUITE, after XG rolled on the beach, laughing in the seaweed. What could follow that?
I was so disappointed when I read the Radio Times, "Gabrielle is shot with a poisoned arrow." This is the Star Trek Next Generation default plot-line. Boring. But then I watched it, Wow! It blew me away. The overwhelming superiority of X:WP over ST:NG as drama is that XG don't know it's a TV show. XG's emotions were so true, that we couldn't help but weep along with them.
In Babylon 5: Garibaldi: What a horrible way to die. Sinclair: Last time I checked there weren't many good ways. But to die to save others is a good way. To die with dignity, surrounded by friends is a good way to go.
OAAA had everything. For three years, we fans had been clamouring for subtext and at last, we got 40 minutes of solid sub-text.
Honour my memory!
Even in death Gabrielle, I will never leave you
Xena carrying Gabrielle up the ladder - just FEEL the love.
Always looking out for me?
Xena, In China, I never meant to hurt you.
All I want is to be with you, my best friend, my family.
Who needs the Water Company? Just put OAAA on the video and our tears can irrigate the Gobi Desert.
All the obsessions were resolved in the face of the truth. Xena's guilt-trip was cured. "I've done paying for my past mistakes. My responsibility now, is YOU." Gabrielle's blood-innocence was cured when she poured the boiling oil on the Persians.
The squabble about the boots was the essence of subtext - even when they are fighting, they always love each other.
OAAA is the great Love-Hymn. When we think of X:WP, let us remember the best.
Dafydd ap Thomas
Group Therapy Issue
From: Bongo Bear
Sent: Sunday, August 05, 2001 6:01 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor: Riding a One-Trick Pony to the Bitter End
Let me start with a conclusion: Tapert didn't know it was time to get off of this horse.
Xena: Warrior Princess initially blew past Hercules: The Legendary Journeys in the ratings because she was a darker, more mature hero for whom heroism didn't come easy. Once she made it past the villain-with-a-conscience stage of her development, Xena had to learn what it means to be a hero. Unlike Hercules, Xena was not born to the hero biz and she needed another motivation -- redemption.
Xena kicks some bad-*ss*s for a couple of seasons and looks like she's going to reach her goal. If she grabs the redemption ring, then what? What can keep the viewers coming back for more? So Tapert et al deconstructs her character and creates a backstory guaranteed to bring in even higher ratings because it worked before. Xena is badder than ever and the redemption bar is raised even higher. Not only is Xena bad in her past, she's bad now. She drags Gabrielle through Greece and twenty-five years later, chaks her in the head. Gosh, she is so evil. How are those ratings doing?
But wait, the show is coming to an end. What would be a great way to end the series? Um, let's make Xena the baddest yet. Let's say she had been a war criminal the whole time. That redemption kick was just a phase and never a serious theme of the series. She's so bad, she is irredeemable. Anyone see a pattern here?
If the audience is to accept that Xena was so evil that she was irredeemable, then there is no way for her to achieve any sense of salvation through her own means. A hero can only die so many times for the sake of others. Xena could never be a good enough hero. After a villain is condemned to an eternity of torment or an eternity of dreary limbo, what more is there? Revenge is ultimately an empty prize. Unending punishment brings no closure because it implies no punishment is ever enough to satisfy the victims. Xena could never be a repentant enough villain. Much of the audience is not satisfied either. Tapert should have gone beyond the redemption theme and tried a novel idea for once. He should have found a way to forgive Xena.
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2001 5:42 AM
Subject: Woosh Letters
Why Xena had to end ... At first I was upset when I heard that it was ending. Xena was a fabulous role model, but after the fifth series, I am not surprised the show came to an end. I am surprised it went into a sixth series.
The Gods are a beautiful, important and scared part of ancient Greece, and how they were treated in the fifth season was appaling. I have banished all things Xena from my house, but kept my Hades stuff of course :)
"Motherhood" was nothing more than a disgusting, mindless slaughter/bloodbath, which to me is everything Xena is against, the 'Eve' saga making the Gods look like the 'bad guys' when they were fighting for their lives and families, especially Hades, just as Xena was, and I, sure as Hades will not be watching another episode.
From: Andrew Shaughnessy
Sent: Saturday, August 11, 2001 7:35 AM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
I would like to say how much I enjoyed (and agreed with) both Kym Taborn's editorial "The Mojo That Once Was" and Bret Rudnick's article "Xena, That Is Not Right!". Both made a number of good points, which tie in with my letter in last month's issue regarding Xena's arbitrary decisions and her lack of respect for Gabrielle.
Kym rightly cites ONE AGAINST AN ARMY as an example of everything that was right about XWP. This episode is my personal favourite, simply because it is a Xena/Gabrielle story in its purest form. I feel Kym misses the point, however, when she says that "Gabrielle was the stubborn one, and Xena refused to accept Gabrielle's single-mindedness." Xena was all for abandoning Greece to the invading Persians in order to save Gabrielle's life. The only way in which Gabrielle was "stubborn" was in reminding Xena of the importance of the Greater Good. She eventually convinced Xena that staying and fighting was the right thing to do, even if it meant both their deaths. I have yet to see the latter half of Season 4 and most of Season 6, but ONE AGAINST AN ARMY stands out in my memory as the last episode in which Gabrielle actually won an argument with Xena, even when Xena was wrong.
Amy Murphy's letter compares Xena's reaction to Gabrielle's apparent "death wish" in LEGACY with the reversed situation in FRIEND IN NEED 2. She says Xena "gives up her life, and Gabrielle lets it", which does Gabrielle an injustice. A passage from Bret's article sprang to mind when I read that letter. He says "It was a bit out of character early on when Xena asked Gabrielle what she would do in the face of a desperate situation. I had grown so used to Xena not caring what Gabrielle thought over the last couple of seasons that her words at that point jarred me." In LEGACY, Xena's final words to Gabrielle may be translated as "You have no right to determine your own destiny. That is for me to decide." If Xena would not allow Gabrielle freedom of choice in her own fate, what chance did Gabrielle have of convincing Xena to change her mind in the series finale?
The latter seasons of XWP saw an apparent shift in Xena's attitude from "I did it because it was the right thing to do" to "It was the right thing to do because I did it". Same words, different order, VERY different meaning. Xena essentially became infallible, something completely at odds with the concept of a "flawed hero". Even when she was clearly wrong, as in her refusal to deal decisively with Livia, something would always happen to let her off the hook. Livia's "deus ex machina" conversion is the most obvious example. The whole "frozen for 25 years" scenario in Season 5 conveniently avoided the fact that Xena's lifestyle, which she was so unwilling to abandon in KINDRED SPIRITS, was incompatible with raising a child. There was no longer any tension generated by conflict between the main characters, as we all KNEW Xena would do as she pleased.
This change in the nature of the series was detrimental to the Xena/Gabrielle relationship. As Kym rightly says in her editorial, it was the RELATIONSHIP, however you chose to view it, that made XWP special. By elevating Xena to near-divinity, reducing Gabrielle to the status of "just another sidekick", and often eliminating her entirely in lengthy flashbacks to Xena's past, their relationship was not so much transformed as mutilated. Why this happened is a mystery to me. If anyone out there has any suggestions, I would love to hear them.
The Genesis and Deconstruction of a Hero
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2001 7:23 AM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Re: The Genesis and Deconstrction of a Hero and Andrew Shaughnessy's Response.
Andrew, I couldn't agree with you more. Season three began the nightmare of "Who is the real Xena?"
The hyprocrisy and sometimes brutal way Xena treated Gabrielle drove me away from the show for a whole season. After Bitter Suite, I stopped watching for awhile. It was only after a friend told me that they were back on track did I watch it again.
And when Xena conceived Eve, TPTB advoided dealing with Gabrielle's emotions altogether, instad they had her accepting the Baby as her own (Which is not out of character for Gabrielle), instead of dealing with the more challenging path.
I don't een want ot talk about the Chakram in the head. After hearing from so many "Xena can't do wrong" types, I decided to pretty much keep my opinions about Xena's sick way of showing love to myself. I gre up in a home where my dad could be the most loving individual most times, but when the monster came out, everyone who he "loved" came out with some damage. Watching s3-s5 Xena just back all that back home for me.
So Xena's dead. Gabrielle will go on. And she will love and live again. She will have the memories...and make some new ones.
More on the SIN TRADE Question
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2001 8:23 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor - Sin Trade
David Miligan asked [letter 20] about the meaning of the name 'Adventures in the Sin Trade'.
I believe 'Adventures in the Skin Trade' was a story by Dylan Thomas (I don't know what about).
Then William Goldman (scriptwriter of Butch Cassidy & the Sundance Kid, The Princess Bride, and others) wrote 'Adventures in the Screen Trade'.
TPTB's habit of closely imitating previous titles may account for the name of the ep., though it's always seemed a very odd name to me.
From: Jules Nelson Hill
Sent: Tuesday, August 07, 2001 5:14 PM
Subject: Just a comment
I'm perhaps one of the few Xena fans who didn't get to see the last hour of the final show.
Cuz the !@#$%^&*()!!!!! captioning went OFFFFF! sigh. I really HATE this when it happens and believe me, it happens more often than I want it to. That's why I never watch two-parters. Almost always one hour is captioned and the rest isn't. Bleah! Still, I was kinda hoping it wouldn't happen with the final ep of Xena. Well, lo and behold! It did! !@#$!!
I did get the first hour, though. Guess I should be happy with that, huh? ;-)
Jules -oo- in Austin
still waiting to see the "last hour"...CAPTIONED!
From: Melanie Rochette
Sent: Monday, July 16, 2001 8:29 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor
A letter of thanks to you all for creating and maintaining a wonderfully resourceful site! I have turned to this site many a time during what will be fondly remembered as the Xena Years of my life.
Your articles, information, episode guides and interviews, so often came in handy as I and many, many other die hard fans discussed our favorite show.
Thanks again to everyone on the staff!
From: Laura Sue Dean
Sent: Thursday, August 02, 2001 7:55 AM
Subject: You rock....
Honey, I just took a look at the latest issue, and hon, you totally outdid yourself. You absolutely rock, sweetie.
Take a tip from Laura Sue and do TRY to take a little vacay. You KILL yourself the way you go on.
big gushy smooch,
tanned, rested, and still smelling of coppertone
Note: In the late part of July and early part of August 2001 the virtual elves got bored and changed the Whoosh front page greeting to "Welcome to Whoosh!, the Journal of the International Association of Xena Studies. Here you will find essays, articles, commentaries, and various analyses of the television show Xena: Warrior Pot (XWP)" and then later to "Xena: Warrior Poltergeist". They no doubt did so because they thought it was funny...not to horrify our visitors.
Sent: Monday, July 30, 2001 5:03 AM
Subject: Xena Warrior Pot translation
You might not know it, but 'pot' is the dutch version of 'dyke'. It's most probably not deliberate, but this new title was good for a chuckle.
From: Carl Martin
Sent: Tuesday, July 31, 2001 7:02 AM
Subject: Whoosh Website User: You May Have Been Hacked
Near the top of your default "www.whoosh.org" webpage, appears the line: Xena: Warrior Pot (XWP)
I suggest that someone may have hacked your site.
By the way, I love your site, and have read it for years faithfully. Thanks for all the good work.
From: Starbase 101
Sent: Saturday, August 18, 2001 12:27 AM
Subject: X:WP Too Darn Hot
ROFLOL...oh my...I have been watching you change around those names from Xena:Warrior Pot to X:Warrior It's Too Darn Hot..Where are you getting your ideas? Keep 'em coming, please...
Rohan the Thunder Chick
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