The Southern California Xenafest 6 was Great, But...
Date: Tue, 1 Aug 2000
That editorial letter, mentioning Mary D., was very thoughtless. She made a mistake. She did not do it on purpose. Mary does so much good in the online world. The thought that she is being flamed by these women, over a mistake, makes me sick! The pictures were up only a matter of minutes! When she was told the situation, she removed them immediately. I did not get a chance to see them!
I wonder how people would feel if Mary packed it up. Such a loss to FF and the many bards who do not care about the backstabbing! I should have all the people who love Mary and her site know all the flaming that is going on! You would get plenty of editorials then!
Did you contact Mary at all to get her side? I can see however, from that letter, who the members of the committee are, and it becomes painfully obvious why the letter was placed on Whoosh. Wow, I thought these people in the Xenaverse had a lot more integrity than what I've seen in the last 6 months! Lastly, if Mary does pack it in. All the addies above will be passed in the Xenaverse for the reason why this happened!
From: Bret Rudnick
Sent: Monday, August 28, 2000
Subject: So Cal Xenafest Letter
Much has been said about the illegal/improper taping and posting of material showed at the So Cal 6 Xenafest. As someone who was there, I can certainly vouch for the fact that warnings and admonition NOT to do so were given over a PA system that was more than adequate for the task.
There was no written material requesting people not to do illegal/improper things that I saw, but then common sense must play a role at some point. A verbal admonition was more than satisfactory.
But in the fallout of this affair, one very important item has fallen through the cracks.
Apart from an apology by the So Cal Xenafest committee that organised the event (and strictly speaking they had no need to do so since they did no wrong), no one who actually participated in the wrongdoing has bothered to apologise to the man who was most wronged -- Rob Field (and yes, I know this first hand because he mentioned it to me himself).
It was Rob Field who brought the material to the Fest solely because he felt fans who attended would like to see it. It has been something of a tradition for Rob to bring material to the So Cal Xenafest for those fans who could attend. He has also brought "bonus footage" to Creation conventions at which he has appeared. But the So Cal Xenafest was special since he has attended that event annually right from the start. This material is the sort of thing that could only be shown at a "live" event since the red tape to get permission to distribute it on the Internet would be prohibitive and, for all practical purposes, impossible.
But Rob went out of his way, strictly as a favour to fans, to get permission from the Executive Producer of XENA to show the material in a special circumstance. This was not something instigated by Renaissance Pictures, this was one friendly Xenastaffer, Rob Field, who went out of his way completely on his own initiative to do something nice for fans.
His reward was "the incident", which could have gotten him in serious trouble. But even though things have cooled down since the Fest, Rob Field has expressed his intention never to appear at another fan event ever again. Never.
This is a serious loss to XENA fandom. With the departure of Steve Sears, Rob Field was one of the only Xenastaffers that kept a direct "link" with some of the fans. Other Xenastaffers surf the Internet from time to time, but they rarely, if ever, appear at any fan events to give some feeling of "connection" to the viewing public.
It's sad that a chain of events took place to cause such a stir. People make mistakes and hopefully learn by them not to do such things again. But what is even sadder is that those who did a wrong thing never even directly apologised to the man himself who took the most heat for it.
From: Debbie Davis
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000
I would like to remark on the article "The Southern "California Xenafest 6 was Great, But..."
Ms. Clogston wrote:"Xenastaff can no longer trust that the Xenites at the Fest will abide by their wishes and not steal and distribute copyrighted material. They've said they don't blame us personally, but they cannot and will not take part in any future Fests. I'm sure that will apply not only to the Xenastaff but to the actors that also come to our fests."That sounds overly exaggerated. Why would Xenastaff or the actors not take part in any future fests over a tiny overblown event? These events are all about revenue. Produce and market the product, attend publicity events a.k.a conventions and fests generate revenue and future interest in your product, make more money. I personally would like to see a written statement from Xenastaff stating they will not be present at future events. As for the actors, publicity for their current product generates interest in future products. Don't put words in the actors mouths and make them look as bad as you and possibly loose part of their fan base.
Ms. Clogston also wrote:"Xenastaff can no longer trust that the Xenites at the Fest will abide by their wishes and not steal and distribute copyrighted material."That is rather harsh of Xenastaff to say. Again, can you produce a written statement of that fact? Why alienate your fans and "customers" with such an accusatory statement. In essence, what you wrote and allege the Xenastaff of stating is that Xenites are unscrupulous thieves. After reading that, why would we choose to attend an event where our reputation, character and honor is questioned.
What other events has the "The SCXF6 Warlord Committee" coordinated, hosted or played a major role in? The event in question was an innocent mistake. The footage was not blatantly stolen, pirated, etc... In effect, if you wish to place blame then you are at fault for "Failure to Direct" which is..."It is the duty of the administration [fest organizers in this case] to anticipate problems, minimize discretion at the operational level and make directives and policies which guide behavior." Ms. Clogston, did you place a disclaimer on event tickets stating no photography or reproduction of said footage? Did you place a sign on the door and within the viewing room stating the same? How about Inadequacy or Insufficiency of Supervision? Provide proper supervision during the event that would have curtailed the innocent video taping of a T.V.set?
In a crowded room, do you or anyone else really expect EVERYONE in that room to hear any alleged verbal disclaimers? Was a microphone used to gain audience silence and then the disclaimer versed? I am sure Mr. Fields recognizes the innocent mistake for what it is and is looking forward to his next event.
An innocent situation occurred and was quickly rectified however, you and several others are escalating the event to profound heights. You are only making yourself look bad while making unfound accusations toward countless others. In addition, you are publicly dragging others into something that should have been kept within a confined space.
If this is how you and the other members react to a mistake, I will not be attending any events coordinated or sponsored by you or your committee.
From: Dave Gentile
Subject: letter to the editor
Date: Wed, 2 Aug 2000 16:43:13 -0500
The fact that pictures from "Legacy" were posted to the net, is very unfortunate. However, the warlords have failed to note some very important points:A) The person who took the pictures at the event was not present at the time of the announcement. They had no knowledge the of the need to keep the clips inside the event. The clips were shown twice, the announcement was only made before the first showing [Ed--This is erroneous. I was there (along with others, actually about 150 others!) and I heard it before each time and I was across the room watching the door. It was stated immediately before each showing and to miss the announcement the person would have had to have been out of the room and to have made it in time to see the clip they would have had to rush in through the doors at a fast speed in order to set up the shots (I was watching the door for the Fest and I remember no one coming in at any fast pace during the clip) and the graphics that were distributed on the Internet were shown within the first few minutes of the clip.]Never-the-less, the warlords set out to deliberately and maliciously hurt the people responsible.
B) MaryD did not know that pictures were not supposed to be posted. She asked the person who took the pictures, and they replied to the effect that they were O.K. to post, since she had missed the announcement.
C) The pictures were on the website for about 8 minutes, at 1am., and were removed as soon as the mistake was realized.
D) It was an honest mistake, and no one intended any harm, and everyone has apologized.
It is possible that the Xenaverse will not get the privilege of seeing future episode written by Melissa Good, in part because of the actions of the warlords. The witch hunt that they have instigated is reprehensible, and needs to be stopped at once. People involved have received death threats. This over a fuzzy picture, of a couple of stunt doubles on a TV show. There is simply no possible justification for this sort of over-reaction. This simply represents the actions of people who have harbored a long simmering jealousy, and have taken this opportunity to give it voice.
Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2000
Subject: SCXF 6 (Letter to the Editor)
It was a sad thing to read that the joy and good times of the Southern California Xenafest were marred by the prohibited copying and distribution of the "Legacy" sneak preview. Having read the reactions to those events in the hours and days following the Fest, it was clear to me that the organisers (and many other participants) were very hurt and angry about what happened, especially the (initially) unapologetic and defensive reactions of those involved in the escapade. To be very clear: Excuse-making is not the same as apology-giving.
One can certainly understand enthusiasm over a new episode and M. Good's debut, as it were. Such enthusiasm excuses nothing, however. I find it hard to believe that brain fever or mania or fan fervour overtook the minds of the copiers and distributors to such an extent that, in the not insignificant time it took to download, edit, and Web-publish the images, no one had a moment of rationality. So what we have in this incident is not only violation of trust, but also lack of good common sense.
It does not matter that Robert Field or the organisers should have guessed that someone out there in the audience would, could, or might aim a camera at one of the television sets. What matters is that Field twice instructed participants not to do so.
It does not matter that others may have put one over on Creation or other organisers of fan-gatherings in the past and come away with their own fuzzy, poor audio quality, pirated tapes: One's ability to be evil.Xena and thwart the rules does not, thereby, make the rules suddenly non-existent.
It does not matter that TPTB [the powers that be] have turned a blind eye to other "legally suspect" fan activities. What matters is that fans were asked specifically to respect this particular boundary -- a boundary that has been pretty well set, understood, and respected for the past several years.
It does not matter that the copied segment was only "X minutes long". What matters is the segment was copied *at all*. Likewise, it does not matter that the images were posted on the Web "for only Y minutes" and "only Z number of people" accessed the page. What matters is that, beyond all reason and comprehension, they made it that far.
Finally, it does not matter how Xena, Gabrielle, Eli, the Buddha, Hope, God, or Great Aunt Bertha would, could, or might have reacted to the situation -- what really matters here are the feelings of those who were wronged. If one is going to capitalise on or gain from the generosity of another, one ought at least remember that "the other" is also a person with rights and feelings.
Certainly, in the grand scheme of things, this incident was not apocalyptic. Still, promises were broken and feelings were hurt -- and that, to me, is what makes all the difference. My best wishes go out to Chris Clogston, the other SCXF Warlords, and Rob Field, and I hope they have received the apologies they deserved. I also hope that xenafandom has come away with a little more empathy and greater perspective on what is *truly* important in the life and well-being of a community.
Joxer Fan Fiction - The Secret Scrolls
From: Crystal Blue
Subject: letter to the editor
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2000
re: janet elizabeth's fanfic issue letter
i would just like to say that while i agree with janet that i was disappointed in the lack of joxer content in the fanfiction issue, that isn't the fault of whoosh!, but rather something that lies in the hand of joxer fans. hopefully, that situation will be rectified soon, as many of us are brewing up articles right now to make up for the lack of them in the past.
however, i must disagree with janet when she says that joxer fans do not see subtext, or that it holds no appeal for us. i know many joxer fans who embrace and enjoy subtext. perhaps janet is unaware of jesss, joxer enthusiasts in support of sapphic subtext. at any rate, love of joxer and love of subtext are not mutually exclusive.
if joxer fans are having trouble finding online resources as janet implies, i'd like to mention the mailing lists i personally belong to, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, and email@example.com. i would particularly like to promote the suje groups, as they're relatively new. suje stands for the society for the unification of joxer enthusiasts, an organization dedicated to resolving factioning within the joxer fandom, bringing slashers, gjshippers, and what have you into a cohesive group. joxerotica has been around for quite a while - the fiction archive (http://www.sockiipress.org/joxerotica/) has recently passed 400 stories - and the quality of writing on that list is some of the finest i've seen anywhere.
finally, i'd like to say that i find this particular quote rather disturbing:"I am sad to admit that the Joxer papers tend to be not as well written as many other articles, but I run them nonetheless because there are such a dearth of articles on that topic."i have read all the joxer articles whoosh! has published, and i found them to be of excellent quality, particularly "joxer from a disability perspective" and rebecca littlehale's excellent article in defense of joxer fans, the title of which escapes me. i am puzzled as to why you perceive these articles to be of low quality, but i would not presume to guess.
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 2000
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Janet Elizabeth stated, in a letter ("Subject: JOXER FAN FICTION - THE SECRET SCROLLS") in the most recent edition of Whoosh:Now you may not be aware that the Joxer fan fiction writer has any more special needs than an Alt writer, but we do. We don't see subtext, we don't have any reason to nor does it appeal to us.I just had to comment to correct this misconception, which seems to be so very prevalent both in subtext-fan and Joxer-fan circles. It is NOT a prerequisite of being a Joxer fan to be anti-subtext, or vise-versa. In fact for several years I ran the JESSS (Joxer Enthusiasts Supporting Sapphic Subtext) mailing list and website, a place for those of us who sometimes felt on the outside of both the pro-subtext and pro-Joxer communities because we were fans of both.
I personally was a fan of the X/G subtext long before Joxer won over my heart with the humor and humanity he added to the show. Not all of us Joxer fans are in support of a Joxer/Gabrielle romantic relationship (unless we're talking about a little polyamory here, which might have been fun if beyond the boundaries TPTB were willing to push! :-) I did not see Joxer as some sort of threat to the X/G relationship despite his feelings for Gabrielle--after all, if Xena and Gabrielle really were soulmates, what kind of threat could his feelings have truly presented to their love, anyway?
I _do_ agree with Janet that it was unfortunate Joxer fiction was not discussed in your recent fan-fiction issue, because there is certainly a wide variety of authors working in our little corner of the fandom, from G/J-shippers to Ares/Joxer "slashers", and much that could be said about some of the exceptional stories they have written.
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000
From: Shelley Sullivan
Subject: Letter to the Editor
First, I would like to belatedly compliment you on your fanfic issue. It was interesting and informative, and I especially enjoyed the article on Della Street, a long-time favorite of mine.
I don't quite know what to make of Janet Elizabeth's letter JOXER: THE SECRET SCROLLS, as it doesn't seem clear to me in what way she feels WHOOSH is somehow failing the Joxer fanfic writer or reader.
First, as the Editor's Note below the letter states, a call for papers for the fan fic issue was widely distributed online throughout various fora and mailing lists. I saw them and obviously so did many others. Perhaps it's possible that all the Joxer fanfic writers didn't, but it seems remarkable that in a community of "hundreds if not thousands of us who do care about and appreciate Joxer", described by Janet Elizabeth as being "a large movement", not one Joxer fan saw the call and alerted any of the Joxer fanfic writers so that a paper could be prepared. WHOOSH is hardly responsible for not publishing what they do not receive.
Secondly, to suggest that "they didn't want to be pulled from their hiding places to be ridiculed by the general online Xenaverse population at large" is surely engaging in hyperbole.
WHOOSH has a large number of hits per month, approximately 100,000 [Ed. - actually WHOOSH hits per month are in the range of 2,500,000; the visitor count is around 100,000]. In any given month, the Letters to The Editor section receives between 1,300 to approximately 2,000 hits, depending on WHOOSH's content the prior month or so. The number of those who write letters to the Editor is a fraction of those numbers, hardly qualifying as the "online Xenaverse population at large". I should think anyone who would engage in ridicule is already pursuing that by utilizing author email on individual stories, and it's also quite possible that an article about Joxer fanfic would result in a reaction of general indifference. Many, many readers of articles never respond, either positively or negatively, but every author of an article exposes themselves to potential praise or criticism, regardless of topic.
Joxer fans don't come to WHOOSH? Really? The author states: "and in all fairness, you do equally print pro-Joxer articles along with anti-Joxer articles", and I have certainly seen letters from Joxer fans appear with regularity in WHOOSH. I've received a number of them myself. Who is writing these pro-Joxer articles if Joxer fans do not come to WHOOSH? Who is reading and responding to "anti-Joxer" articles in defence of a character they enjoy? Why bother writing articles or letters if other Joxer fans are not going to be reading them in WHOOSH (and this would apply equally to an article about Joxer fanfic, would it not?)...which they obviously do? The bottom line here is that no one knows what sort of response an article about Joxer fanfic in the all-fanfic issue would have received because no Joxer fanfic reader or writer bothered to write one. That isn't WHOOSH's fault...they publish what they receive, nor is WHOOSH accountable for whatever judgements Joxer fanfic writers and readers may make, nor their reasons for making those judgements. Those are completely and solely the responsibility of the individual fan.
If the people with the most involvement in a branch of fanfiction don't care enough to take advantage of an opportunity...why should WHOOSH seek them out?
As for the "special needs" of the Joxer fanfic writer...I find myself completely baffled by this. A writer needs three things: characters, a story to tell, and the words to tell it. Whether a story is alt or not has nothing whatever to do with writing the story itself. Altfic writers also have specific views on fan fiction and how it should be written, and so, I daresay, have the general fiction writers. In fact "how it should be written" varies from writer to writer, regardless of genre, as each brings their own viewpoint to their stories. This is how it should be, and Joxer fanfic writers certainly are no different in that regard, as the author's letter states when she writes: " We write fiction in where his true personality is realized. We make him into the character he should have been."
What I believe that you are suggesting is that Joxer fanfic is somehow deserving of "special consideration", or promotion, simply because it's hero and main focus is a supporting character of varied acceptance, not that there are "special needs". To reinterate, a call for papers was put out and various people responded. No Joxer fanfic writer or reader was among them. To complain about a lack of inclusion, to suggest after no indication of interest by Joxer fans was given, that WHOOSH should have gone seeking articles is ridiculous, in my opinion.
Note: After receiving in the past various and sundry vituperative emails focused on my sex life (or perceived lack thereof) and overall failures as a human being, instead of addressing whatever Joxer-related content I happened to write, please be advised that any private emails I receive which fall into this category will be published by WHOOSH. Disagree with me, certainly, but let's be nice and stay on-topic.
Quality of Fan Fiction
Date: Tue, 22 Aug 2000
Subject: Letter to the editor
A response to the ongoing debate about the 'quality' of fan fiction, and in particular, to the letter from LadyJaneGrey in last month's letters to the editor.
Christine Boese's comments about recognising 'good' writers also struck a chord with me. I've been reading a lot of fan fiction lately, and I've spent a lot of time being irritated and pissed off by a lot of it..... too many 'first time' stories, reworkings of Sins of the Past, so-called Uber with no recognisable Xena and Gabrielle archetypes at all.... you name it.
Mind you, I have a thing about bad writing, bad editing, bad grammar and crap spelling.... (comes of having an English degree.... and I've never been out of work since graduating - and I don't teach - put that in your pipe and smoke it, Missy Good!!! For those of you who don't know what this refers to, I suggest you read Tropical Storm.....!)
But then I had a thought that turned all of this on its head: what makes a piece of fan fiction 'good' or 'bad' - and who decides this? What standards do we measure this against? And how does writing fan fiction compare to other writing - is there something unique about it? (And if so, should we celebrate the uniqueness rather than the technical skill involved?)
I have my own opinions about all this - I know what I enjoy, and I know what I would consider to be 'good' and 'bad' writing - but I also know that this may be very different from a lot of other fans out there.
I would argue that writing fan fiction is not like other writing, in fact it's much harder - the characters, the background and some of the situations are already set up and the writer has to find a way of remaining true to this at the same time as offering something new. Not an easy task.
For instance, a big thing for me is whether a bard captures what I see as the 'essence' of Xena and Gabrielle - and, for me, some are OK writing Xena, some writing Gabrielle, and some can't do either (while some do both very well.) Now if a writer can't capture what is special and unique about the central characters, why bother writing fan fiction? And is this more important than their technical writing skills? Sometimes, I would argue that it is. (Especially in Uberfic, where that's really all you have to go on - and by the Gods, there's some BAD BAD BAD Uber out there!)
I've read some stories which I thought were unoriginal, cliched, or just badly written, but where the writer had captured something essential about Xena or Gabrielle - maybe in just one line, or one phrase - and that made the story worth reading, for me - for that one perfect moment. So how should we judge stories like these?
On the other hand, there are the writers who are good technically, but whose writing just doesn't capture that 'essence' in quite the same way, for me at least. Missy Good would be at the top of the list of fanfic writers for a lot of people, not just a 'good' writer but 'the best', but I don't share her vision of Xena and Gabrielle - it's far too slushy and romantic, and there isn't enough sex for me - reminds me of that old chestnut, The Well of Loneliness - 'That night they were not divided'!!!! (and what's with the dog, sorry, wolf pup...?) I like the way Missy has created something original, with new worlds and believable characters, but the stories (and Xena and Gabrielle) just don't speak to me the way they do with other writers.
Please note that this is NOT a personal attack (back, Merpups, back! - besides, I love the Dar and Kerry stories) but an illustration of how difficult it can be to judge other people's work when we are none of us truly objective. I mean, who are we to invent some kind of imaginary scales for judging bards - we don't have any understanding of where each bard has come from - their experience, their educational opportunities, their first language, their country of origin, even their age - all things which may make a huge difference to the 'quality' of what they produce. The beauty of being a part of the Xenaverse is that we are a diverse community - and surely we should celebrate that?
Which leads me very neatly into the other point I wanted to make, about the craft of writing, and picking up directly from what LadyJaneGrey was saying in the last issue. As with any other skill, writing is something that is crafted, honed and refined with each use that we make of it - to paraphrase Simone de Beauvoir - one is not born a writer, one becomes one. So each piece of fanfic is a learning process for the writer, even well-established ones I would imagine, and should be celebrated for that very reason if for nothing else.
'Good' and 'bad' are such subjective, value-led terms - can't we just say 'that works for me, I like it' or 'I don't like it, I'll go read something else'? Otherwise aren't we in danger of aping the mainstream in creating another 'canon' of acceptable, recognised literature by 'good' writers? I know I for one sure don't want to be reading the Xenaverse's equivalent of Dickens, Tennyson or DH Lawrence!!
Hope I've opened up the debate a little..or not!!
Date: Sat, 5 Aug 2000
From: Andrew Shaughnessy
Subject: Letter to the Editor
I think Richard P. McArthur and I are going to have to agree to differ over Callisto. His argument that her actions against people other than Xena makes sense - to a sane person. The problem is that Callisto was two gods short of a pantheon. In his letter Richard refers to her by the popular nickname "Psycho Barbie", and my dictionary defines a psychopath as a "mentally deranged person". The definition of "derange" when applied to people is "to make insane". Hercules said Callisto chose evil, but her evil arose from her insanity. That was inflicted upon her, not chosen. It also virtually eliminated any chance of redemption, as psychopathy affects moral sense. How could Callisto repent for what seemed, in all but her most lucid moments, perfectly right?
Moving on to the events of ARMAGEDDON NOW, Pankos could best be described as a victim of "friendly throw", as Callisto turns and lets fly on the assumption that he is another of Xena's men. Check out her expression when she realises her mistake, and the look of regret as she incinerates her mother. Her only course of action now is to let her younger self die, destroying them both. This would, ironically, have redeemed Callisto, as all her "later" actions would never occur. Result? Alcmene, Perdicas and Solan still alive, Hercules born, Gabrielle married, and probably no Dahak or Hope (unless Gabby got bored in Poteidaia and took up with Xena again). Maybe Iolaus shouldn't have interfered....
I don't know why they changed Callisto's family lineup. I just put it down to the sloppy writing which crept in at about this time. I'm told that in the original US run, SURPRISE aired the same week as THE QUEST. Xena was dead at the time, so how did she know where to find Callisto in A NECESSARY EVIL? Does she have a telepathic link to Hercules? Come to think of it, why didn't eating the Fruit of Life cure Callisto's insanity? We may be fans, but we're not stupid, and I for one don't like plot holes.
From: crystal blue
Subject: letter to the editor
Date: Tue, 01 Aug 2000
re: what purpose joxer serves
when i read the letter asking what purpose joxer serves, i was aghast. of course, being exceptionally perceptive, perhaps these things come easier to me than they do to the person who asked. all he has to do is research back issues of whoosh! to get many answers to this question, but i'll expound a bit, just in case he hasn't the time or the inclination.
joxer represents the wise fool, a common mythological/literary character.
joxer represents the innocent and pure heart, a factor that was needed desperately for the show when gabrielle lost hers. something has to balance all that dark-warriors-kicking-ass-for-the-greater-good thing.
joxer represents the klutz in all of us who, try as we might, can't quite measure up to xena or gabrielle. tell you what, i'll give you a sword, and you can fight a warlord. who do you think you'll resemble?
joxer represents the comical sidekick. not very well, in my opinion, but i'm not a writer for xena, much as i might wish.
joxer represents unrequited love. i recall another letter in this last issue that implied his unrequited love was of the "creepy stalker" variety. do i have to say how bogus that is? i personally don't understand why joxer loves gabrielle in particular, but i identify with that bittersweet ache of loving someone who doesn't feel the same way.
joxer represents trying to achieve your dream as hard as you can. trust me, he knows he's not a good warrior - but it's what he wants with all his heart, so he keeps at it. and he has improved over the course of the show.
admittedly, that's just off the top of my head - but those are some of the things joxer means to me.
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