Whoosh! Issue 75 - January/February 2003

By Saul Trabal
Content © 2002 held by author
WHOOSH! edition © 2002 held by Whoosh!
1891 words

Creative Expression (01-03)
Amazon Warrior: What is the Big Deal? (04-06)
Brutal Death to the Amazon (07-08)
Fans Rage On (09-12)
Pass the Ketchup (13-14)
Bile Movement (15-19)


Creative Expression

As Gabrielle is about to be asked for a second autograph by an admirerer, a cloaked convention employee whisks the person away and he is never seen again
Gabrielle was often writing stuff -- until the later seasons.

[01] Before I begin, I would like to share a few words about myself. I am a writer and a casual illustrator. Unfortunately, it has been a long time since I have done any illustration. At the moment, drawing and painting have had to take a back seat while I focus on trying to become a published writer. I live in New Jersey and I attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City for several years. I collaborated on an animated short for MTV's Liquid Television back in 1992 called "Autoguard 2000." A little later, I was involved in art design for several CD-ROMS for a company called Vanguard Media, where I colored animations on computer. In 1995, I was involved in cable access TV for about a year. I also was an extra on a small direct to video film called 2 Minus God.

[02] While my focus is on writing, I am into anything creative. The only thing I have not tried to explore is playing music. I happen to be a huge fan of the Canadian rock band Rush, and they have inspired me greatly as an artist. Someday, I would love to learn how to play the bass guitar.

[03] I like to watch film and TV, though not as much now as in the past. There is very little from Hollywood that I find interesting nowadays. Occasionally though, something wild and different comes along that catches my attention. One of these things was Xena: Warrior Princess.

Amazon Warrior: What Is the Big Deal?

[04] This show, creatively, was quite unlike anything I had ever seen before or since: a wild television show that took thematic chances and was not afraid to fall flat on its face. When things worked, it was like a well-oiled machine. When things did not work, it was like a bad piano practice session. Many episodes made me cheer. It taught me, as an artist, about the rewards and risks of taking chances. Most importantly, it showed me how certain choices could end up meaning triumph or disaster.

[05] Nevertheless, in the end, to me, it was just a television show. It did not set out to impart some great cosmic knowledge. It was a wacky, funky hour of television and a great escape from my dull, stressful life.

[06] Like any other show, Xena: Warrior Princess had its triumphs and its difficulties. By mid-fifth season, I felt that they were running out of steam and were going through the motions. Finally, sixth season came along, ending with the very controversial FRIEND IN NEED.

Brutal Death to the Amazon

[07] I had mixed feelings about the end of the series. I liked the fact that Xena died as brutally as she did. I was getting bored with Super-Xena and the fact that she could beat everyone. Considering the kind of violence the character had inflicted on others, justly or unjustly, it was about time that she got a taste of her own medicine. I will admit, though, the story line leading to her death was less than stellar and could have been better handled. I was not in an uproar about it. I was somewhat indifferent. For a while, it seemed everyone involved had reached the end of their rope and just wanted to get it over with.

[08] The fan reaction, however, was quite astonishing to me. It was amazing how people invested so much of themselves into the show. The rage they expressed over the ending bewildered me. Sure, there were episodes I absolutely loathed and raved about, but my tirades were strictly about story structure. I also did not drag out my misgivings on and on like a parrot. For me, Xena: Warrior Princess was not a mentor or a source of inspiration on how to live life. It was just a fairy tale.

Fans Rage On

In addition to barding, Gabrielle is known for her impressions, as here she does that Munchkin from the 'Lollipop Guild' in THE WIZARD OF OZ.
Gabrielle expresses her rage at the death of her friend.

[09] Yet, for many fans, it was a LOT more. The rage went out of control. Much of it was spewed at Lucy Lawless and Rob Tapert for supposedly betraying the fans. Given that Lawless was married to Tapert, she received much more of the fans' wrath than did Renee O'Connor. Many fans felt that they were lied to or set up. Some either gave away or destroyed whatever merchandise they bought related to the show. Many refused to watch any other programs produced by Rob Tapert or starring Lucy Lawless. Frankly, all this rage seemed ridiculous to me.

[10] It is a sad state of affairs when folks have to look up to an imaginary character as a role model. To me, looking up to Xena: Warrior Princess as an inspiration for living is like calling a hamburger a healthy food. I understand that there are those folks whose choices for real-life role models range from rare to none. I do have sympathy for them. These folks desperately needed nourishment. The show may very well have been the only type of nourishment they could find. That, however, does not mean that better choices are not out there. It is up to the individual whether they want to settle for eating hamburgers all the time.

[11] I also found it odd that folks would make a role model out of a character that was a former mass murderer. I suppose that people wanted to choose what aspects of the Xena character they liked, but to me, that made no sense. In my eyes, that was akin to going out and buying a pack of cookies that was partially eaten by mice, ignoring the chewed-up cookies and eating the untouched ones. It struck me as very odd behavior. I guess that a sword-wielding, leather-clad, blue-eyed, brown-haired woman is a more exciting role model than a doctor, teacher, or police officer -- never mind the fact that Xena slaughtered dozens if not hundreds of innocent folks in her lifetime. That little blemish could be overlooked.

[12] Insofar as how many in the lesbian community interpreted the show and reacted to the ending, again, I feel that this was a result of those individuals in the said community being desperate to find a role model or character they could call their own. I sympathize greatly with gays and lesbians and the injustices they go through, and I would be the first in line to make sure they get the same rights everyone else has. Yet again, in my opinion, Xena: Warrior Princess was not the place to be looking for inspiration. It is a hamburger, not a salad.

Pass the Ketchup

[13] I think back to all the angst spewed at Rob Tapert and Lucy Lawless for FRIEND IN NEED and, too, the alleged earlier transgressions and to what was perceived to be a betrayal of the fan base. One question came to mind: why in the world should a television producer give a d--- about other folks' hopes and dreams? Because fans wanted this producer to care? Some folks would say that television is a powerful medium that can mold minds. While there is much truth in this, I also think that television is for the most part a wasteland. We rely too much on the idiot tube. As Harlan Ellison, an American writer, once said, folks should kick in the tube and use the TV as a planter. There is little of substance in it.

[14] Many fans complained that they were strung along by Tapert-and at times, Lawless. Perhaps they were. So what? This was a BUSINESS. Tapert and Lawless had a product to sell: Xena: Warrior Princess. Whether there was malice on the part of Tapert and Lawless can never be proven. Their ethics and business decisions can endlessly be debated. While I do not think they are perfect, I do not believe that Tapert and Lawless are the demonic beings some fans made them out to be. The bottom line is that in the end, the fans had a choice. Tapert and Lawless were not going to think for them or make the choice for them. The fans had to think and choose for themselves and live with the consequences of those choices.

Bile Movement

[15] I see that there are those who are still spitting forth bile towards Tapert and Lawless on message boards and lists, more than a year and a half after the show has ended. I find this incredibly juvenile.

[16] Has anyone here seen Requiem For A Heavyweight, with Jack Palance and Keenan Wynn? If not, it is a deeply moving story about a fighter, Mountain McKlintock, who has been hit one too many times. He is forced to retire or otherwise go blind from repeated blows to the head. There is a scene where Mountain McKlintock is at the bar. Nearby is a group of has-been fighters who are reliving old fights, over and over again. They have nothing to look forward to. McKlintock briefly engages in conversation with them and begins to relive one of his old fights. The he realizes that he is doing the same thing these folks are doing--reliving the past. Not wanting to be caught up in the same trap, he excuses himself from the group and leaves. He eventually goes off to start a better life. The fans parroting on and on about Tapert and Lawless' alleged shortcomings in regards to Xena: Warrior Princess remind me of those has-been boxers. They go on and on about something they cannot change, when instead, they should be cutting the cord and moving on with their lives.

[17] If these folks want to change the world through television, I suggest they get off their backsides, learn the business, and make their own TV shows. Stop whining and stop waiting around for someone to represent your ideology. If you are going to wait around for someone who gives a d--- about your problems and dreams, you are going to be waiting forever. The way many fans treated Xena: Warrior Princess is like looking at a Volkswagen Beetle and thinking it is a Ferrari. You can paint it red, lower it, and put on the Ferrari logo, but do not be disappointed when you cannot do 0 to 60 in three seconds.

[18] I wanted to make a difference as an artist. But I am not just talking about it. I am DOING something about it. Whether I will succeed or not is anyone's guess. I do not just whine when I see bad writing. I go out and attempt to create better work.

[19] As Lucy Lawless so aptly put it: "Cut the cord". Maybe it is high time some folks did just that.


Saul Trabal, "Grease: Another Perspective", Whoosh! On the Road, October 1997
Saul Trabal, "Lucy Lawless in Grease: The Saul Trabal Collection"
Saul Trabal, "Trabal Creations"


the author Saul Trabal
Saul Trabal is a 36 year old writer.

Favorite episode: Any episode with Meg; in particular, SOUL POSSESSION, for obvious reasons.
Least favorite episode: MOTHERHOOD



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