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". All letters with the subject "Letter to 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.
January Editorial and February Letters Thereupon
Subtext or Subconscious
Joan of Arc
Forget FORGET ME NOT? Forget It!
German Fan Needs Help! Willing to Beg!
The State of Uber
When Should XENA End?
Early Continuity Problems
Girls Just Wanna Be Batman??
Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000
From: Joe Kubasha
Subject: Whoosh editorial
Just read the editorial. I just wanted to say that I actually think this season is excellent! Perhaps the reason less people are watching Xena is because it's lighter with a little more humor. Regardless, I still watch it and make a tape of it every week.
Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000
From: Diana Kunkel
Subject: Whoosh Editorial
While I hate to admit it, your statistics are compelling from a sales perspective. It must be difficult as an advertiser to select which shows to sponsor when overall ratings are dropping (syndie and network - -- except for the greed-shows) -- even as the prices don't. The fact that XWP draws Disney, Nike, etc. as sponsors tells me it may still be considered a good pick even as its numbers slide.
I agree with you that the "don't let the door hit you" attitude is not productive and I too have noted the ROC-is-cute tendency on the NetForum. However, I think that the on-going discussions of the X&G subtext (when they don't stir up the hornets nest regarding where the show-went-wrong) still carry with them an interest in the show and its themes, more than specific actors.
I think we agree on all this.
Thanks for taking the time to read the editorial, and thanks for the comments.
One thing I've noticed about Hollywood since I got interested in XENA is that the people there, sponsors and studios alike, have a huge interest in surveys and their results. It would not surprise me at all to learn if a sponsor buys advertising time on a show because a survey has told him or her that the demographic is ideal for their product, raw numbers notwithstanding.
On the other hand, it would be unsettling to have an episode where Salmoneus invents a particular shoe and wanted a gods endorsement of the product. Uh-oh, wait a moment, that already happened on HERC.
No, I'm not making that up. Air sandals. The new gimmick is that the soles are cushioned by squirrel bladders (or stomachs, or some other rodent organs). (:
Date: Wed, 01 Mar 2000
From: L Jones
Great Letter - you got it all in a nutshell. And with tact and a sense of perspective. Well done!
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
Subject: your whoosh letter (march)
Excellent letter in the March 2000 issue of Whoosh. I enjoyed (and will share) the ratings-update.
Just to let you know, we at the Xenaversity of Minnesota (the Minnesota Xena Fan Club) are NOT giving up on the show. All of us (38 so far and growing) watch it religiously, discuss it, and can't wait for all the new episodes to start.
They have not lost Minnesota!
We (XOMbies) will be participating (strongly!) in 2-3 Sci-fi conventions this year in the Twin Cities. X:WP will be promoted intensely here. We are proud of "our" show.
Founder of XOM
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
Subject: The Night of the Fleeing Fans
Just read your editorial, and I really enjoyed the style and manner in which you wrote it. You made a lot of great analytic statements (I've always been a fan of your articles, btw
) with which I completely agree.
I was just wondering, if YOU still watch the show with the same kind of passion you used to during the first two seasons? If so, I wonder what your actual point is... 'Cause I don't. :-/
Thanks for reading the editorial, and thanks for the comments.
You know, you are the first person to ask me if I watch the show with the same enthusiasm as when I started. It took me awhile to actually think of an answer, and not because I'm trying to be politically correct.
I'd have to say that I look forward to each and every new episode, simply because it's a new adventure. I still like a lot of things about the show, although my tastes have changed a bit since the start. Now as I look *back* after seeing each episode, there are some I like a lot, many I like well enough, and a few I don't care for, but I'd have to say my list of "fave eps" are quite first and second season heavy. (: That is not to say there are not episodes from the latter seasons I have liked, but in a general sense, my fondest memories come from Season One and Season Two in terms of sheer quantity.
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
Subject: RE: MARCH WHOOSH EDITORIAL
I just read your March editorial in Whoosh and I am not suprised by your findings. To be fair, I should tell you that I only started to watch Xena in January of 1999. I know little of the history of the show (or I did, but since joining the online community and the viewing audience I know much more) and I must admit that I like the show overall.
What I did find interesting is your reluctance to state another obvious (at least to me who has only joined the game at halftime so to speak) reason for the decline in fandom. I have found from both personal experience and from talking with others I have met online, that there is a growing rift in the Xenaverse fan base. It seems that there is increasing animosity between those who believe in the subtext (or text if you are of the same mind) and those who don't. Flame wars, anti-character sites, outright libelous statements about certain characters and the actors who play them seems more and more common. By association, if you like a character that is extremely disliked by the group you have joined, you are insulted, ostracized and eventually run out of town. It has even expanded to cyber-stalking of those whose opinions are not liked.
While most of the subtexters (as I have been told they are called) and non-subtexters are fairly agreeable and passive individuals, there is only so much an individual will take from those who cyber assault them just because they don't agree with their point of view. Retaliation is only to be expected as those who are tired of being abused for expressing their opinion fight back. If you push someone into a corner they will eventually be pushed too far!
Perhaps this issue can and should be addressed by such a prominent Xenaverse community e-zine. I think it is fair to say, according to some original viewers I know, that in the 'old days' it was more allowable to agree to disagree on your favorite character and love the show as a whole, as opposed to now, where the fracturing of the fandom has made it almost impossible to express a view!
In closing, I would like to say that I did find your editorial interesting, informative and rational. I would like to see more on this issue, as I think it affects all the fans of the show!
Janet Elizabeth Swainston
Thanks very much for your thoughtful note.
Your mention of fan divisiveness is an apt observation. I suspect that sort of conflict has more to do with fans leaving online fandom more than just not watching the show anymore. What I was attempting to do in the editorial was link a decline in ratings with some of the stated reasons I've read from online fans. I can't recall reading a statement from someone along the lines of "I don't like the subtext debate, so I'm not going to watch the show anymore." I can well imagine, however, such conflict driving some people out of fandom.
Such virulent arguent escapes me. It's one thing to exchange a civil variant of opinion with someone, yet something altogether different to get into a knock-down drag-out fight about it. That's one of the things I was alluding to as regards fan civility (or lack thereof) when I made a reference to people having "beliefs shaken."
Whether we like it or not, some people will have such strong and unwavering belief in something -- religious principles, sexual preference, political stance, what have you -- that those deep-rooted beliefs colour everything they experience and encounter, including entertainment programmes. Then of course there's the general anonymity of the 'Net which affects some people like motor vehicles -- they think they are invincible and inviolate within those secure confines. Last but not least is just overall maturity, which is lacking in some people regardless of their calendar age.
Personally, I do not allow myself to get embroiled in such heated "debates" and so I'm not well informed as to the detailed contents of them. I know they exist, and that's as far as I'd like to go. (:
For myself, I think it's much more productive to focus on the positive rather than the negative. Sure there are things that cheese us all off from time to time. But I don't think I could keep up the necessary perpetual anger to develop a website for it, especially regarding a television show. It's all I can do to help work on this one! (:
Again your thoughts are very interesting as regards fandom. Care to do a WHOOSH! article about it?
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
From: Alexander Jiranek
Subject: x-xena fans
I agree with most of the points made in your article. However, I would suggest that the reason why you have many fans telling fans who are leaving the show to "not let the door hit them on the way out" is due to the attitude of the people leaving. If a person does not like the show, fine. But I am a little bewildered as to why the need for a big public statement that they are now giving up on the show.
Tom's Xena page is a good example. His large banner proclaiming his 'partial' closure of his web-site is rather odd considering the majority of the page is still up. When the page first 'closed' he couldn't help but take a stab at the show and how it has changed for the worse as his reason for closing shop. When people took offense he then back-tracked and tossed out the excuse that he was just tired (which is fine) and had no intention of suggesting to people to stop watching (which he did). The bottom line is if you don't wish to maintain a web page or stop watching the show, then go ahead. I agree with your sentiment at the end of the article in thanking ex-fans. But if ex-fans are going to go out with a stream of criticism then be prepared for a stream of criticism right back.
Date: Thu, 02 Mar 2000
From: Angie Cabrera
Subject: Xena fanhood
I happen to agree with your point of view. I came into Xena about halfway thru the first season. I have missed only one episode (DOP) which I WILL get eventually knowing the way networks work. Otherwise, I have the collections of the first three seasons and have taped the others. I watch XENA faithfully every week and definitely miss it if I have to work or go out of town. The show I enjoy, the actors I enjoy (even Joxer), the weird timeline, and the inconsistencies- I like it all. I like the series. Yes, there has been a (sadly) shift in emphasis. I loved the relationship between X & G and fantasied what that might be as is my right as a viewer. I wish the sriters would go back to that most excellent of writing that allows for multiple interpretations. All the arguing and carping about this isn't getting thru obviously and Season 6 is going to be the last (and that's a maybe since Lucy could still walk away). I really would like the writers to do something really good for the last season. Now would be a GREAT time to get into the relationship. What's there to lose? Oh, well, thanks for being a sounding board....;-)
Date: Mon, 06 Mar 2000
From: Karen M. Wood
Subject: Whoosh Editorial
Thanks for your editorial in Whoosh. I, too, regularly watch "Xena" (and am not fond of the new shows, ie. "Cleo", which seem more 'babe-ish' than Xena), but my trouble has been when Boston chooses to show it. I know many more people in this area would watch if they could FIND it! 6:00 p.m. on Saturdays?! Sundays at 1:00? Or whenever? I've been very frustrated with that.
I was very pleased with some episodes such as the trips to India and China, and the introduction of new gods/goddesses who are interesting (Athena) and have depth. I absolutely HATED the recent "Fishsticks" one - - it seemed the antihesis of what Xena has always been about - insulting to men and women alike. I feel the quality has been uneven, but I still love the show, what can I say!
I am so glad to see the wonderful work you all do on Whoosh. "Xena" has engendered such powerful reactions from fans, right from the beginning, and I think we had tremendously high expectations because this was something we had never seen before. Disappointments when the show doesn't meet those expectations are all the more crushing because of the energy we, as fans, have invested. Regardless of ratings or uneven writing, whatever, there is still no show that touches "Xena" for subject matter, diversity of cast, and depth of the main characters. Though I am a subtext afficianado, I loved the recent erotic scenes between Xena and Ares - they were truly well done. Yet they didn't abandon love relationships between women, as evidenced by Athena's female companion. I am fully aware of the multitude of criticisms, some of which are justified. But I rue the day when this show leaves the air!
Thanks for the hard work you and the rest of the Whoosh staff do!
Thanks for taking the time to read the editorial and thanks for your comments.
The time slot problem is not peculiar to Boston. Many markets have seen radical shifts in the times that XENA airs. Stations had the option to replace XENA with other shows in the prime time slots if the ratings fell below a certain level, and that is precisely what many of them did.
One benefit to being online is that one can make use of readily accessible television guides to find the air times and stations of specific programmes. All one has to do is input a zip code, programme name, etc., and voila, the data is available. Ultimate TV is one such site (http://www.ultimatetv.com) and there are others.
Date: Wed, 08 Mar 2000
Subject: "Fleeing fans"
I have read and enjoyed your informative articles on the Whoosh website for several years now.
I happen to be one of those fans who is still hanging in there, watching every first-run XWP show (and taping them). I can certainly understand however why so many long-time fans are abandoning the show. One of my major gripes is the lack of uniformity among the show's creators. There seem to be many confusing threads rather than one long continuous one. Perhaps it's a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth but whatever the reason, one gets the definite impression that the writers are not consulting with each other, rather just charging full steam ahead with their own version of the storyline.
Not the least of this confusion centers around the 'hereafter' issue. First we get an Elysian Fields/Tartarus, then an Amazon Land of the Dead, than a Christian Heaven/Hell and back to the Elysian Fields again. Will Xena end up in the E.F. with Solon or will she and Gabrielle go back to the Christian Heaven, complete with angels and all? It's already been established that she and Gab are going to be reincarnated so why did they have to become angels when they were in Heaven/Hell? For that matter if Callisto is an angel, why does she have to be reincarnated as Xena's child?
When I compare the first and second season eps with some of the current eps, I often get the feeling I'm watching a different show. Yet even in the current season, some of the shows are extremely divergent from each other. Consider Cyrene's character in 'Lyre' and in 'Amphipolis' for instance. In the latter she's a hardworking peasant innkeeper; in the former she's a sort of New Age yuppie mom. Actually I thought that 'Amphipolis' was one of the best of the fifth season eps (barring the fact that the actress chosen to play the mythologically majestic Athena was the size of a chipmunk and came up to her girlfriend's waist) and I thought 'Them Bones' was another one that revived a ghost of the old magic. But the latest attempt, 'Married With Fishsticks' was beyond the pale. I thought it was so bad that I'm sure if anyone who had never seen the show had the bad luck to catch this one, they would never consider giving it a second go. I know that's how I would feel.
One of the reasons I still watch the show is my affinity for the characters of Xena and Gabrielle and their unique relationship, but I do find that I'm not looking forward to it as I used to. On the other hand, I find myself very much looking forward to the fanfic of Missy Good, and I mean her classic Xena fanfic, not anything uber, as good as that might be. I look forward to her stories the way I used to look forward to the show, because in my private opinion she's captured the very essence of the characters and the 'feel' of the stories that once made them such a pleasure to watch. For me, her Xenaverse is the one I now go by.
I feel sad that a show that I was (and in some ways still am) so fond of is something I often barely recognize anymore. Nevertheless I plan to stick with it till the bitter end.
Just the thoughts of a (still) die-hard nutball.
Ariadne de la Montagne
Thanks for the kind words about the editorial, and thanks for continuing to read WHOOSH!.
I don't think anyone can offer any explanation of continuity (or the lack thereof) on XENA. As I understand it, and as I've heard different production people and producers of the show tell me, the show has had a general direction for the end of each season from the beginning of each season. No one has ever expressed there was an overall direction for the show from start to finish. As a result, things have evolved from season to season. There has also been the loss of a "founding father" on the show (Steve Sears) and the absence and return of another (R.J. Stewart) so further disruption and change has resulted.
For me, the most obvious change from the "early days" to the present is the dichotomy of the "throw-away comedies" (less charitably referred to by some as "bonehead comedies") and the "serious" episodes. Cyrene appears so out of character in a comdedy like LYRE when contrasted with all her other appearances, especially in the early seasons. It is jolting to see the Cyrene characters of LYRE and AMPHIPOLIS side by side. We can see this effect in other characters too. Aphrodite, ditzy goddess of love that she is, was allowed to grow as a character in her appearances on HERC, learning to care about things other than herself and taking an active role sometimes in helping her half-brother fight evil, right wrongs, and keep things straight on Olympus. But that character has been limited in subsequent appearances on XENA compared to the character development allowed her on HERC.
I'm told the latter part of Season Five will focus more on Xena and Gabrielle together, rather than separately, so perhaps one can be encouraged by that.
Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2000
Subject: The Night of the Fleeing Fans
Thank you for your editorial in the March edition of Whoosh. It echoed a lot of my sentiments about this issue and I am glad that you brought it out.
I have also noticed the fact that some fans are no longer enthusiastic about the show and although I am sad to hear that, I can understand and respect their wishes.
I have always believed that trends such as this (the decreased number of viewers) are inevitable in any show. A show can not stay the same forever. If it stagnates, it will only lead to a quicker death. I loved the 1st and 2nd seasons and remember being taken aback by the happenings in Season Three. But looking back at it now, the 3rd season had some of the best episodes ever that made me really "FEEL" the characters. It will always be debated if things could've been done differently, but the way it WAS done caused so much commotion/emotion in the Xenaverse that I feel, in a way, good about it - after all you can only evoke that much reaction in someone if they truly care about something. Season Three was necessary and I love it. I agree that it was a pivotal point in the Xenaverse with regards to its viewership and that we may have lost some fans because of it but I believe that it had to change in order to survive. The characters needed to grow. If we were exposed to the same thing day-in and day-out, it would have lost its appeal a lot sooner and those responsible for the show knew this. Thus we also have Season 4 and 5 (Season 5 for different reasons of course). But because of this shift, the fanbase has been going through a dilemma to either stay or go and it seems to be happening moreso now than before. Season 5 seems to be the last straw for some viewers who harken to the days before The Rift or maybe just before Season 5. And although I am one of those people who will love Xena: Warrior Princess from start to finish (which doesn't mean that I can't disagree, be disappointed, scratch my head, or just plain out wonder what the heck is going on with some episodes), I can understand what might cause those who have left or are thinking about leaving, to lose interest.
My apologies if I went off on a tangent here but thank you for your viewpoint Bret and for the interesting information about ratings and such. Also, I want to say that I second your last paragraph about those who have left - they have all been a part of what I think of as a family, united in interest/like/love, of a single show. They will be missed.
Date: Sun, 12 Mar 2000
From: Stacey Capps
I just read your editorial on Whoosh! I want to thank you for a gracious and well-timed response to the recent and ongoing events in the Xenaverse. I appreciate your understanding both for those past fans that have left the Xenaverse, and for those Xenites that continue to carry the torch. I wish more continuing fans could be as understanding and sympathetic as you have been.
Date: Tue, 14 Mar 2000
From: Mil Toro
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Kudos to Bret Rudnick for his editorial regarding fans who have stopped watching the show. As most people know by now, I was one of the fans more vocal in my departure and had no qualms about expressing my displeasure with the current season. Perhaps I could have been a little less snarky and more diplomatic but what can I say? I'm a writer, I speak my mind.
Bret states "If you fell in love with XENA during Season One and Season Two, and compare that to what you are seeing by Season Five, the fundamental nature of the show is quite different. I am not saying it is worse. I am not saying it is better. I am saying it is different."
I guess that depends on what anyone's definition of "worse" or "better" is. If you watch TV for nothing more than mindless entertainment, then sticking with Xena this season and being wonderfully entertained by its current incarnation won't be a problem. [BTW, I'm not referring to those fans who are hanging on out of loyalty or hopes that the show will get turned around by RJ Stewart 's return to the fold]. But because throughout most of its first 4 seasons, XWP created certain expectations that it was more than mindless entertainment, and expecting more from this TV show as compared to other shows does not seem to me to be an unreasonable expectation. Unfortunately, because the contrast is so vast, it's no surprise that long time viewers, like myself, are feeling betrayed and embarrassed and have decided that XWP has become unwatchable.
I also agree that there has been less discussion and analysis of the episodes themselves this season, which happened quite regularly in the first 4 seasons. Most comments have centred on Renee's "hot-quotient" and Lucy's acting choices in how she portrays Xena's indifference to Gabrielle. I am assuming that episode analysis is lacking because the continuity factor has been an especially glaring weakness this season and any theory extropolated from the plots can be shot down by any other given episode, past or present. Lucy was right in saying in a recent interview that the makers of XWP don't want you [the viewer] to think because, indeed, XWP's lack of continuity, inconsistant plotting, and character assassination has been de rigeur this season. Any deep thoughts or analyses are likely to send you directly to the looney bin.
As for the ratings, my understanding is that good consumer relations is when you come out with a new product, you draw in customers and once you have them, you try to keep them coming back again and again, not drive them away at every opportunity, which seems to be happening ever since 3rd season. It's much easier to keep the customers you have rather than gain different and new ones every year. And the ratings clearly reflect that.
Bret also states: "So to all of those who have stopped updating their XENA webpages or have left XENA fandom in disgust, frustration, or just plain boredom, I say this to you: We who remain are diminished by your absence and appreciative of your participation while it lasted."
Thank you, Bret. I leave with great sadness, as the Xena and Gabrielle I knew died on Ides of March, assassinated by their creators. I have enjoyed my time in the Xenaverse and I know that nothing can take away the last four years. Plus I still have my videotapes
Mil Toro aka Lucyfer
One In A Mil Xena Page
Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000
Subject: Letter to the Editor
This is in answer to the editorial, "Night of the Fleeing Fans". I no longer watch first run episodes of Xena because RenPen has already told lesbian Xenites by their actions that we are no longer welcome in the Xenaverse.
Simple-you don't want me, I choose not to watch the show anymore. Besides, the last two seasons of XWP have really sucked compared to seasons One and Two. If you don't belive me, watch Sci-Fi on Tuesdays. You can really tell the difference.
Everything was OK until USA picked up the show. Then, RenPen chose to cater to straights-and straights ONLY from the look of things, and that is what sent a lot of Ex-Xenites packing. Besides, I saw what gratitude means to RenPen with what they did to Kevin Sorbo.
Oh, and when Sam and Rob come back to their senses, wake me up.
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