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Xena and the Skinheads: What the Far Right Has Done With Xena: Warrior Princess
Sharing the Disappointment Or Maybe Not
Xena and the Skinheads: What the Far Right Has Done With Xena: Warrior Princess
From: Jan Thimo Grundmann
Sent: Friday, December 07, 2001 8:13 PM
Subject: Letter to the Editor - whoosh63 - rich2.html
Xena and the Skinheads... frankly, when I first flicked through the article rather superficially after a friend had told me of it, I almost went ballistic. But after some more careful reading, I think I have to offer some additional thoughts.
I don't think it's written with that in mind, but the paragraphs 51 through 53 almost sound a lot like as if you'd imply that the creatives behind X:WP already had eased neo-nazi views and ideas into the minds of a large mainstream audience, especially after reading paragraphs 21, 26 to 28 and 42, and a few other parts, too, in context. If it is indeed written to imply this, I shall return to a state of stark raving madness immediately. But for the time being, I won't.
The example quoted in paragraph 21, simply naming a character after a nordic mythological figure, seems to me to be a little too far fetched to imply the writers, as well as the supposedly anti-liberal lampooning in paragraph 26. I think rather weak links like these can be found in almost every complex work of art, linking it to almost any other part of the human cultural heritage. And therefore, to the latter's negative aspects, as well. Therefore, the linkage highlighted is a matter of choice, within wide limits. Simply because, especially in today's globalized world, all strands of culture are intertwined and did interact in a more or less intense fashion all across the ages. Less intensely in the nationalist era of the 18th to 20th centuries, the times our ideas and references as towards that degree of cultural exchange are mostly based on, certainly more intensely in the bronze age or just as well in the greek/roman classical period.
But, yes, I do agree, there is a tiny foothold there for neo-nazis shrewed enough to exploit it. Like every mono-theist, mono-ideologist movement has always exploited and abused ideas and ideals that represent the Greater Good in the minds of as many people as possible, at the time. If they had done otherwise, they would never have been so terrifingly successful in 'fishing for souls'.
But, in more recent times, there's another reason for their success, and being German, I speak from experience.
Germany is now one of the countries with a very low rate of hate-crimes, and the lowest number of neo-nazis or similar fascistoid groupings. Bearing in mind the burden of our recent history, each of these hate crime incidents and groups associated are widely reported, of course. I wouldn't want to have it any other way, all over the world. There still are neo-nazis around, though, despite every effort to end this plague. Why is this?
The general view on our history, as taught here in schools and published in the media as well as in academic research on history since the war, is that more or less everything that went before 1933 (or 1923, if you take Hitler's first failed coup attempt) in German history led inevitably into the abyss. In other words, it had to happen. Or, in consequence, if you'd take the same ingredients and mix the brew, it will happen again. Looking at, for example, Rwanda, Cambodia, or former Yugoslavia, just to name a few, I doubt this is the whole truth, but it may be a part of it, still.
In consequence, all of German history is focused on the 1933-45 period, and is dominated entirely by these 12 years in its perception. From elementary school to graduation, something like 80% of the history and social science classes deal with these 12 years repeatedly, and the remaining twenty-odd percent, mostly in highschool (in U.S. terms), look at the 'other' 1200 to 2000 years that went before, and the 56 years since. And a lot of that is spent analysing the abuse by the nazis of whatever happened or was popular as a mythology at that particular time in question. This extends, of course, into German and religious education, as well.
Even more, we've had another dictatorship hereuntil about twelve years ago, communist-socialist instead of nationalist-socialist this time, in eastern Germany, then called the GDR, which _defined_ itself as the anti-fascist state on German soil.
The net result in both cases is that everything that was even touched or liked by any known nazi is thrown out of the cultural heritage for good. It did exist, yes, but if you have to mention it at all, you better add a long footnote on the 3rd Reich, and so on. It's a no-no, and, for example, when somebody in England where my brother lives, asks me about Nietzsche or Wagner, I'm hit by a bout of perspiration instantaneously. That's the nazi-alert built in to every German, I guess under the age of 60, by now. Don't touch, distance yourself immediately, a little voice inside yells immediately.
Nobody cares that, for example, Nietzsche's works were almost obtruded upon the rising nazi party by the custodians of his heritage who perverted the idea of the striving for an advanced intellectual state of consciousness symbolized by the then unknowingly ill-conceived academically- philosophical phrase 'Uebermensch' which roughly translates into English (as well as everyone's everyday use of German) as 'above human' or 'beyond human' (state of existence or suffering, that is) as well as 'superhuman'. The latter was unfortunately too useful not to be taken on board as an utterly racist interpretation by the nazis. Wagner, well, he actually was part of the failed revolution in 1848 which sought to dispose of the rule of warlords and kings in all the Balkanised small and tiny states that made up Germany at the time. The aim of the Forty-eighters, as they are called, was to create one truly democratic German state in their place, and they even got as far as convening a parliament in Frankfurt with delegates from all over Germany. (One of them, Carl Schultz, fled to the U.S. as one of three survivors of a siege in southwestern Germany in which thousands perished and became a General in the Civil War secretary of the interior, later.) But then the royalist restauration hit back with a vengeance. In the era of repression that followed, Wagner wrote his Ring trilogy (which has indeed found its way into X:WP, combined with the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf Saga - by the way, Saxonia is situated in the easternmost part of Germany). It is in turn, like its representation in X:WP's 6th season, a finely tuned compilation of ancient nordic mythology and the early medieval period 'Nibelungenlied'. In and between the lines that tell of the tragic downfall of an ancient world and its heroes are a host of references to the tragic situation in Germany at the time, enough to fill books in fact. It was percieved as a statement of opposition to the rising second Reich at the time, and only later hijacked by the new emperors. They needed the positivism of the idea of a united Germany, just as they set about to unite it by force, focused in a war of aggerssion against France in 1870/71.
But all this does no longer matter to Germans at large, because Hitler happened to like Wagner. The nazis were extremely careful not to exploit his works, though, as they told of the inevitable fall of a seemingly invincible hero, as did the much older Nibelungenlied.
Now, I don't like Nietzsche for other reasons, and I don't really like Wagner, except for the odd appearance of the Ride of the Valkyries in Hollywood productions such as Apocalypse Now. Why do I care?
In short, we've had the treatment for over 56 years now, that's suggested in paragraph 51:>>And, did it work?
[...] It is an idea. [...]
"mightier than marching armies is the power of an idea whose time has come." Recognizing this, anything that feeds such an idea must be suppressed. [...]
No, I am sorry to say. As I stated above, there are still neo-nazis around, albeit in quantities one would call negligible if one was talking about any other type of movement, except perhaps extreme islamists, at the moment. But they are indeed well organised and very skilled in exploiting the media to announce their presence vastly beyond proportions, and to continue to bring shame on my country in the eyes of the world.
How could this happen? Well, sorts of, you said it yourself in paragraph 44:>>And that's the way they acquire all their myths in the first place, as well. Well planned, but blunt invasion, followed by skilled exploitation. They just take them (X:WP, for example). And as soon as they do so, everybody previously connected with the thing they've set their eyes on (Xenites, in this case), jumps ship, flees in disarray and leaves it to them without a battle, lest they themselves appear accidentally to be connected with those who've suddenly taken over by force.
Nazis never debate issues. They do not take votes. They just do not care if their premise is flawed, that it is not logical in all respects. [...] this premise is to be believed and defended against all comers. [...]
That's like offering Alaska to the Japanese after Pearl Harbor or the Golden Gate Bridge to Bin Laden after September, 11th. How in all the world can we even think of doing that?
It won't be enough to say something like, well everybody has their kind of fanfiction, how inconsistent with the show it may be. That's like saying to Hitler, well the Sudetenland will be fine, but don't you touch the rest of Czechoslovakia. To which he replied to his secretary, 'They robbed me of my little war.' He took it a year later, even before the big one.
It's not fanfiction what they do. It's abusing the works of art for lowdown purposes of propaganda. Their ideas mentioned in paragraph 38 should be enough to show this beyond reasonable doubt. That's not Xena, that's not Gabrielle there, for crying out loud. The 'Xena brain damaged' part is a caricature of the idea itself.
They don't want just to live out their ideas in their little corner of the globalised world or even just the fandom, they want it all. And if not now, then as soon as they can take it.
And that's as soon as we're willing to give it to them.
For example, by starting to slowly distance ourselves from, for example, a multi-cultural, multi-alternative-lifestyle, yes, especially heterochromophile show like X:WP by saying or implying that the writers, intentionally or not, opened a back door to them.
If we do that, what's next? Shakespeare? He's picked a lot from local mythology. The Beatles? They've been to supposedly aryan India. Has everything they choose to abuse just been waiting for them to take over through an accidental back door and has therefore to be abandonned by everybody else?
No, of course not!
They just exploit what's central to our freedom, the multitude of ideas and modes of communication. They fully intend to strike at the heart of them. Just as the terrorists of September, 11th abused airplanes, the most potent symbol of free and easy travel since the advent of horses, to strike at the heart of the symbol of a non-uniform culture. The proverbial melting pot of New York City, not the uniformity of suburbia or the bible belt. They are not against something anti-globalisation protesters like to call 'cultural imperialism', they _are_ cultural imperialism in its purest form.
And if they hadn't attacked on that day, the next ones out would have tried later, be it radical extremist christians (who, by the way, already successfully got rid of Xena in Norway), neo-nazis, anti-globalists, you name it. It's all the same: One utterly simple, egocentrist and arrogant view of the world, first preached to and then beaten into others.
All those who've worked on X:WP are part of the 'us', not the 'them'. Everyone who knows the show like Xenites do, knows that it stands against everything that could be remotely connected with the intentions and scheming of neo-nazis, or in fact any other type of radicalism. This includes a little fun here and a little lampooning there. That's not anti-liberal, that's not undermining tolerance or the free world, it _is_ the free world. It's an expression of the freedom we all cherish. It's the very core of freedom we have to defend and protect. Being able to take ourselves not too serious. I can tell. We've had all kinds of dictatorships in Germany in the lifetime of my grandparents, and I listened well to their stories, and I've seen the last one crumble myself, in 1989. That's one thing all these regimes don't like and can never tolerate: Freedom of expression, especially when it comes to lampooning part of the foundations of their own contemporary society. We can. We can even afford to disagree on these kind of jokes. It's not our weakness, it's our strength.
We have to stop the retreat. Now.
Sharing the Disappointment or Maybe Not
Sent: Wednesday, November 21, 2001 2:50 AM
Subject: Hate Vote
My Top Ten Most HATED episodes:
1) Solstice Carol - I can't even watch this episode - all the cute pukey crap gives me insulin cravings. This was the first episode that I ever hated (awwww, memories
2) Soul Possession - A ludicrous and pointless 'mystery-solving' episode that only succeeds in screwing up known facts and committing a character assassination of Ares. The few funny jabs at fans don't save this ep by any stretch.
3) Life Blood - Note to self: If you are ever tempted to salvage some crappy footage from a failed pilot by using it in another show...RESIST THE TEMPTATION!
4) Ulysses - It says something that even the non-subtext fans don't like this one.
5) Married With Fishsticks - Yikes!! Nuff' said.
6) Daughter of Pomira - Blew the opportunity to make another cool Horde epsiode
7) Deja Vu All Over Again - Plodding, boring and ugly. And holy crimes against acting, batman! (Sorry Renee)
8) The Way - I know, I'm largely alone on this one, but I was bored throughout the entire India arc, and the religious relativism of this one didn't sit right with me even before I stopped caring about what was going to happen.
9) Purity - The 'story-ideas-to-deal-with-Lucy's-pregnancy' barrel is getting low. Hey, I know! Xena can conveniently and very temporarily regain some of Lao Ma's powers. That's the ticket!
10) Back in the Bottle - More convenience, but with the added bonus of 'Bubble Xena'!
11) The Last of the Centaurs - Poor Ephiny! To have this be her last episode. It was also disappointing to have this episode be the one we all watched together at the Pasadena con - it would have been so fun to watch a *good* ep for the first time with hundreds of other fans. Only redeeming value? The shot of Xena and Gab fighting back to back ala Herc and Iolaus.
12) Send in the Clones - Another failed opportunity to take some much-deserved shots at fans. Could have been funny. Or touching. Or thrilling. Or something!
Sent: Thursday, November 22, 2001 9:14 AM
Subject: Hate Vote
My name is Roberta Travis.And i loved everyone of the show's and i can't tell you not one that i hated.
bye for now
From: Donald Breeding
Sent: Friday, November 23, 2001 2:48 PM
Subject: Hate Vote
My choices for the 12 worst Xena eps, in season order:
The Black Wolf
King of Assassins
A Tale of 2 Muses
Locked Up and Tied Down
The Play's the Thing
Send In the Clones
Last of the Centaurs
Please note that the much-maligned 5th season only has one entry (although "Purity" and "Back in the Bottle" both almost made my list), and that the almost-universally-hated "Married with Fishsticks" does not appear at all (LOVED the cat fighting between Aphrodite and Discord, and "Overboard" is one of my favorite films). Fourth season had both the most great eps and the most horrible eps, IMHO.
My choice for worst episode of the Series: "Send in the Clones". So much potential in the concept, so little done with it.
Sent: Friday, November 23, 2001 4:53 PM
Subject: Hate Vote
12. The Bitter Suite (useless musical, waste of breath)
11. Lyre, Lyre, Hearts on Fire (see #12)
10. Maternal Instincts (sad, sad, sad. Poor Xena. BAD Gabby.)
9. The Return of the Valkyrie (eeww.. cheeeesy)
8. Send in the Clones (see #9, multiply by 1000)
7. Heart of Darkness (too much sex, violence, and tempting an ANGEL?!)
6. The God You Know (blasphemy to the HIGHEST!!)
5. Who's Gurkhan (STUPID. Sweet, witty Gab turns to Bloody, remorseless Gab)
4. Looking Death in the Eye (why? totally pointless! didn't need the freezing)
3. Eve (no explanation needed! Biatch killed Joxer!)
2. Motherhood (All of a sudden, she's this perfect, unpunished SAVIOR?!)
1. Soul Possession (THAT'S IT? No happy, loving reunion w/ the Dynamic TRIO? Just, "Thanks for helping, BUHBYE!")
From: Jessie Ap'Neva
Sent: Saturday, November 24, 2001 11:34 AM
Subject: Hate Vote
Here are my "Hate" votes, not necessarily in this order:
1)king con (forgettable)
2)forget me not (forgettable)
3)key to the kingdom (forgettable)
4)little problems (silly)
6)married with fishsticks (silly, almost no xena, just an excuses for sexist images? loved draco's "always something there to remind me", though.)
9)kindred spirits (anti-amazon)
10)who's gurkhan? (no character development. who the hell was gurkhan, anyway?)
11)abyss (silly cannibals)
12)friend in need II (really unfortunate choice of ending) loved the sappho poem delivery, though.)
Sent: Monday, November 26, 2001 9:27 PM
Subject: Hate Vote
I'm hard pressed to pick 12 whole eps as "worst," since there were really only a handful of stinkers in my humble opinion. But since you asked for a full dozen, here you go, in order from slighty malodorous to most horrifically pungent, with commentary in italics in case you're interested.
1. Little Problems
I had to pick a 12th one to get the dozen you asked for. And they'd already done the "consoling a grieving child" bit much better in "If The Shoe Fits."
2. Gabrielle's Hope
Zipped thru the pregnancy in record time, forced Gabby's maternal ferocity on us with no real evidence of bonding to this kid that she just got preggers with two seconds ago. A rather abrupt leap in character development, even for "Xena."
3. Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Not a big fan of the writhing vampire thing.
Please, Dear Lord, let this be the last of Tara and her bad acting!! (But thank you for the final scene with Xena at the door of the temple).
5. Deja Vu All Over Again
Interesting attempt at predicting the future of Xena's, Joxer's and Gabby's souls. But they did it much better in "The Xena Scrolls." Annie's charm ran out rather quickly for me. But not nearly as bad an ep as "Soul Possession" two seasons later.
What, again with the fighting, and the more fighting, and oh, look their fighting again....
7. Heart of Darkness
Wait, let me get this straight: Michael, the chosen leader of the legions of the One God's messengers is actually kind of a selfish ambitious jerk all of a sudden? Guess the One God didn't check his references. And what's with the Catch-22 of tricking Lucifer into his eternal damnation? Seemed kind of mean and out of character for Xena and Gabby. All in all, too many inconsistencies that needed to be ironed out but weren't.
9. A Friend in Need, Part 2
Sorry, I know that Rob et al think that it was poetic and Shakesperean to kill Xena off. But by doing so they sort of undid the entire series, where Xena, Gabby and a score of others preach reconciliation with one's past by doing good in one's present. A very disappointing ending, not to mention a rather shoddy, hole-ridden ep in my opinion.
10. You are There
GREAT story about the Norse gods, HORRIBLE idea to include the Jerry Springer character. Peee yew!! (Oh, and btw, even if the camera goes out in the end, we obviously could still HEAR Xena's response to your question about her relationship with Gabby. Duh!)
11. Married With Fishsticks
Don't even get me started.
12. A Tale of Two Muses
Dear Lord, not Tara again. Please I BEG of you, make her go away!!! Not even the funny dance scenes with X and G can make up for the lame, lame, lame "Footloose" rip-off.
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2001 2:35 PM
Subject: Hate Vote
Although some Xena episodes were certainly better than others, they all contained some form of continuity and/or entertained us as we grew to love Xena, Gabrielle and the other characters in the show. That was until the so called Series Finale gruesome twosome. My Hate Vote goes to: Friends in Need I & Friends in Need II
From: Nicole Nash
Sent: Thursday, June 21, 2001 1:31 PM
I just feel there was no good reason for it to end like that. I can't put into words...I mean, it's only a tv show, but I'm sooooo sad.
Fan Out Reach
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2001 2:45 PM
I live in England and they broadcast the show at 1am so a lot of is cut! I just thought id moan becasue I needed to express myself :-)
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