Whoosh! Issue 68 - 
May 2002
Editor's Page

From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Recurring Remembrance

From the Graphics Editor:

Time has a way of affecting some things and not others. There are some memories or feelings so strong that no matter how much time passes, we can recall those events or feelings as if they just occurred. Then there are other memories or feelings that are mitigated by time, lessened, changed, altered, or otherwise modified such that our sense of them in the present is rather different from that of the past.

A specific case in point was brought home to me personally just the other day.

The years 1996 to 1998 were rather happy ones for me as regards a particular relationship. They were good times, indeed some truly great times, but unfortunately it was a situation that, for me at any rate, did not end particularly well. Events certainly did not go in the direction I had hoped for. So I gathered up all the physical history of that particular relationship during that time -- cards, letters, keepsakes -- and placed them in a box that was stored with a lot of office material that I keep around for archival purposes but don't throw away for years at a time.

While I was away on a recent trip to New Zealand, my office moved, and upon my return I had to sort through all the stuff that was packed in my absence and place it properly. Faced with the possibility of moving to New Zealand permanently, I had to sort through a lot of old material anyway and "pare down". In so doing, I happened upon that box that was unopened for four years.

As I saw the material a flood of emotion hit -- most of it good, some of it bad, all of it very strong. I sat on the floor of my office from late afternoon until the wee hours of the morning, reading through things that brought back tons of memories. Caught up in those words and feelings from the past, I even got up the nerve to write a "how are you" e-mail, which went unanswered (and upon reflection perhaps that is just as well).

These events have relevance when one considers that we are approaching the first anniversary of the transmission of the Xena series finale. Next month will be an issue dedicated to how the fans that are still around and care to share how they feel were affected by it.

It has been an interesting year, watching fandom erode faster than sand castles hit by an incoming tide. Fans left the scene in droves, most citing the series finale as the cause. A good friend of mine, who has attended several conventions in past years, remarked at how sparsely attended recent cons have been in comparison, and how among those who did still attend, interest had shifted from the show in general to particular individuals and their work in it.

Naturally one expects interest in a show to lessen once the show is no longer in production. With no new episodes to be seen, many people will simply move on to something else that is current.

But there is still a large fan base for some shows that have been out of production for years (can you say original Star Trek to name but one?).

Why do some endure while others do not?

Most shows that endure leave things open-ended. The viewer has the sense that the characters continue to live on, and if one cares to think about it, one can even "make up" some of those situations or daydream about what can happen next.

Not only did Xena end on a decided downer, it did so by "breaking up" the heart and soul of the entire series. Xena as a show had many messages, not the least of which was the primary character's quest for redemption. But for many fans, especially dedicated fans who followed the show from the beginning or picked it up as it went along, the heart and soul of the series was the relationship between Xena and Gabrielle. That "relationship", from a physical standpoint, could go as far as the viewer chose to take it. But regardless of the "are they or aren't they" question, at the very least, Xena and Gabrielle were friends and partners, bonded by feelings and experiences in such a way that, over the course of the series, they helped each other, learned from each other, grew as individuals because of each other, and had many wonderful times together. Yes there were tough times, mistakes made by both parties, misunderstandings. Welcome to life. But right up until the last, they were still together.

Among those fans who cared to express an opinion of the series finale and how it affected them, the majority were overwhelmingly negative. Those fans felt as if they were hit in the gut and turned their back on the series expressing emotions that ran the gamut from heartbreak to disgust. Many thought Xena's death was overly brutal, and at the very least, totally senseless in the context of the information provided. Many felt that Xena and Gabrielle at least had earned the right to be together after all they had been through, if nothing else to face whatever future there may be together. There were some very extreme and very strong opinions expressed as well, in language unsuitable for duplication in this editorial. The day they saw the finale was the day many fans, literally and/or figuratively, placed their memories in a box and stored it away.

Will fans revisit those boxes in times ahead? And if so, will they change or mitigate their original feelings? Will new fans invest a significant amount of time in a series that ended badly? Time will tell. I hope you stick around for the next issue to see the state of opinion a year after the fact.

Better still, I hope you participate.

Bret Rudnick
Whoosh! Executive Committee

Hermosa Beach, CA.
29 April 2002

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