THE WAY Controversies
Date: Sat, 03 Apr 1999
From: Betsy Duncan
Subject: your comments
Bravo, Kym, for your comments on that non-issue raised by the San Fran. Hindu contingent! Understand that my own spiritual path is a blending of Hindu beliefs and Kashmir Shaivism (Siddha Yoga meditation)---*but* I see their attack as contrary to the beliefs I hold dear. If anything, adherents of Hinduism *should* be delighted with such a gentle portrayal of Krishna *and* in such a popular and well-followed show as XWP! Krishna consciousness-raising was in no way harmed during the filming of this episode! And to have my heroines in India and learning the lessons that they did has been pure nirvana for me (pun intended). I just hope that TPTB are not deterred in further explorations of religious thought/practices.
I wrote Sharon D. awhile back, lauding the attempts of the XWP writers to bring the flavor of India into our homes. The India episodes were just so outstanding, it's ridiculous to see them as anything other than positive (with a capital P). As I wrote Sharon, I was so sick for *so* long about a sit-com character being named Dharma, here on US TV, that Ren Pic's ambitious efforts were more than a breath of fresh air for me. (I refuse to watch that show because of that stupid name choice, *alone*) To digress, I keep coming back to XWP *because* of the sub-text (the demise of "Ellen" was particularly shattering). And I was quite gratified about the inclusion of those winks and nods (in "TPTT") which showed *me* that TPTB not only recognize, but *accept* the sub-texters among us. Ye gods, I love this show! Sorry for the diatribe, but I *do* feel better... Oh, yeah, I've wanted to say this for a long time: I think Ted R. is a fantastically talented comic actor---doesn't anybody else see him as a "beard" (so that all those non-sub-texters can continue, blissfully unaware)? I, for one, *like* Joxer---besides, didn't he mention in KOA that he had a brother who was "that way"? Just remember, we are *everywhere*, and we *ain't* going away! (;
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999
Subject: Letter To the Editor
RE: "The Way"
In its' own fashion, this episode has created an uproar like no other Xena episode before it. Never before, to my memory, has there been such a chorus of condemnation against a television program which does *not* suck. I, and I'm sure many other Xenites as well, are outraged at the way Studios USA and RenPic are knuckling under to this ludicrous protest.
I have created my own anti-censorship page (http://www.angelfire.com/ct/ams/protest.html), which I hope my fellow Xenites will have the chance to read. Will you list it at Whoosh? It would really be a big help. WARNING: It is quite irreverent; let RenPic and Studios USA make nice with these idiots, for I *never* will.
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999
From: brian lashmar
Subject: Letter to the Editor
I noticed in the India Arc commentaries that the Whoosh staff were having difficulties with placing the character Eli. Hopefully I can give some insight as to a possible origin for this persona.
Please note that any Biblical references will be taken from "The Jerusalem Bible".
The questions I will be trying to answer are: Who is Eli? Is Eli a Jew? Were there Jews in India in the centuries before Christ and at the time of Christ? Was reincarnation also a Greek or Jewish doctrine? What References might the "XWP" staff be using in the creation of the Eli character?
To begin with. In the years before Jesus were there Jews living in India?
History tells us that Cyrus the Great added some Indian Provinces to his empire. These were the territories of the Indus valley. "The Book of Esther" tells us that there most likely were Jews living in India at the time of Xerxes(approx. 480 BC). Esther 1:1 describes the geo-political make up of Xerxes' empire: "It was in the days of Ahasuerus(Xerxes), the Ahasuerus whose empire stretched from India to Ethiopia and comprised one hundred and twenty-seven provinces." "Esther" goes on to tell us that Ahasuerus decreed that all the Jews in the Empire were to be killed: "Then on the thirteenth day of the first month the royal scribes were summoned, and copies were made of the orders addressed by Haman to the King's satraps, to the governors ruling each province and to the principal officials of each people, to each province in it's own script and to each people in it's own language. The edict was signed in the name of King Ahasuerus and sealed with his ring, and letters were sent by runners to every province of the realm ordering the destruction, slaughter and annihilation of all Jews..." (Esther 3:12-13.) Most likely this decree also included the Indian provinces, so it seems that there may very well have been Jewish communities in India during the reign of Xerxes.
Christian tradition tells us that the apostle St. Thomas traveled to India to convert the local Jewish communities to Christianity. He preached to both the Jewish and Hindu communities and he managed to establish an Indian Church around 60 AD. This Church has survived down into modern times.
Next, I will discuss the life of Jesus -- especially those years from the age of 12 to the age of 29. These have been called the "Lost Years" since there is no accurate Biblical record of Jesus' life during this time period. Many scholars believe that Jesus remained in Nazareth during these years and they cite Matthew 13:53-58 as one of their pieces of evidence: "When Jesus had finished these parables he left the district; and, coming to his home town, he taught the people in their synagogue in such a way that they were astonished and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these miraculous powers? This is the carpenter's son, surely? Is not his mother the woman called Mary, and his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Jude? His sisters, too, are they not here with us? So where did the man get it all?" And they would not accept him."
Another view that is supported by many scholars is that Jesus spent several years with a Jewish sect known as the Essenes, and that he was a disciple of John the Baptist. There seems to be a strong teacher-student association between John and Jesus since it is John that baptizes Jesus (when many would expect that Jesus would have baptized John). Many modern scholars use this as one of the proofs that Jesus was John's disciple. Also, both John's and Jesus' teachings have many similarities with some of the Essene scriptures found at Qumran(The Dead Sea Scrolls).
Another view of Jesus' "Lost Years" comes from a Russian by the name of Nicolas Notovich. In his book; "The Unknown Life of Christ"(1886), Notovich states that while resting at the Tibetan Monastery of Himis, the Chief Lama revealed to him that Jesus spent the years from age 13 to 29 in India, Nepal, and Tibet. The Lama read to Notovich from a book called "The Life and Teachings of St. Issa" (Jesus) and he allowed Notovich to make a translation of the document which Notovich later inserted into his own book.
It seems that Jesus spent 6 years with the Brahman priests at Gujarat and Benares and there he learned to heal and drive out demons. He infuriated the priests because he preached to the lower castes that God also loved them and that they were equal in His eyes. The Brahmans plotted to kill him but Jesus was warned by some "Untouchables" and he fled to Nepal where he studied with the Buddhists for another 6 years until he perfected himself. He then traveled through Tibet, Afghanistan, and Persia preaching. Next he traveled to Athens, Alexandria, and eventually he arrived back in Judea in his thirtieth year.
Most scholars considered this account to be a literary forgery, and after an initial success, the book faded away into obscurity until the 1920's when it found a new popularity. Notovich's book has continued to resurface every generation since, and is still widely read.
In the India Arc, reincarnation is a major theme and both Xena and Gabrielle get a look at what their future lives may hold. It should be noted that some Greek and Jewish philosophers were proponents of reincarnation. Pythagoras and Josephus both believed in reincarnation. Also, reincarnation was a doctrine of some of the Gnostic Christian and Cabalistic Jewish sects. E. A. Waite was a well known 20th century Cabalist; he was also known for being one of the founders of "The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn" a popular "New Age" movement; and also, he was one of the co-developers of the "Rider-Waite Tarot Deck". This was the Tarot deck that was used in "The Bitter Suite".
Eli could be the diminutive of either Elijah or Elisha. These are the names of two Jewish prophets who lived at the time of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, and their story is found in both First and Second Kings. Elisha is the protegee of Elijah. Elijah first saw Elisha when Elisha was ploughing his fields behind a team of oxen.(1 Kings 18:19-21). Elijah placed his cloak over him (thus passing to him his mantle), and Elisha left his farm and followed the Prophet.
God had promised to take Elijah into Heaven, and as Elijah prepared to leave, Elisha asked: "Let me inherit a double share of your spirit." (2 Kings 2:10) Elijah was then carried up to heaven in a fiery chariot. Elisha became a worker of miracles. In 2 Kings 2:19-22 he purifies a poisonous well. He also raised a man from the dead (2 Kings 4:25-37) and he feeds a hundred men with only 20 barley loaves(2 Kings 4:42-44). He performs many other miracles including healing a leper.
Many Jews wondered if John the Baptist was Elijah returned to Earth. Jesus Said: "...Because it was toward John that all the prophecies of the prophets and of the Law were leading; and he, if you will believe me, is the Elijah who was to return." (Matthew 11:13-15). In Luke 1:17-18, the angel tells Zachariah : "With the spirit and power of Elijah, he (John) will go before him (Jesus) to turn the hearts of fathers toward their children and the disobedient back to the wisdom that the virtuous have, preparing for the Lord a people fit for Him." John himself denied ever being Elijah: ""...are you Elijah?" "I am not," he said. "Are you the Prophet?" He answered, "No"." (John 1:21-23)
We have already discussed the fact that the history of Jesus was being taught throughout India shortly after his death because of the work of St. Thomas. So both Hindu and Buddhist scholars knew of him. Some Hindus felt that John the Baptist was Jesus' Guru. They also believed that John was the reincarnation of Elijah, and since Jesus was his disciple, then it made sense that Jesus was the reincarnation of Elisha, since Elisha was Elijah's disciple. Note that above we discussed some of the miracles that Elisha performed; these were the same type of miracles that Jesus also performed. Jesus also fed the multitudes, healed the sick and raised the dead. Elijah had finished his reincarnations and ascended into Heaven. But as stated above, Elisha asked for a double share of Elijah's spirit. By making this request, Elisha was asking to be made the "Chosen One of God". Elijah was so moved that he asked for a special dispensation from God That he not yet enter heaven so that he might return to Earth to pave the way for his beloved student Elisha. God grants this, and Elijah returns to Earth as John. Only when Jesus becomes "perfected" and God speaks: "This is my Son, the Beloved; my favour rests on him." (Matthew 3:16-17) does John fade into the background and Jesus takes his place on the world stage. John says:" He must grow greater, I must grow smaller." (John 3:30) Jesus goes on to fulfil his destiny while John is executed by Herod. Elijah (John) continues to look on from heaven. The Transfiguration (Mark 9:2-98) is seen as Elijah coming down to Earth to lend Jesus his moral support as Jesus prepares himself for the journey to Jerusalem and to his death.
When Jesus is in his death throws on the cross he cries out: " Eli, Eli, lama sabachthan!" (Matthew 27:46) or "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani!" (Mark 15:34) The New Testament tells us that Jesus was calling " My God, my God, why have you deserted me." Some Hindu scholars believe that in his death throws as Jesus, the Spirit of Elisha was crying out to Elijah. Orthodox scholars state that Jesus was crying out the 22nd Psalm; while if the Hindu scholars are right, and Jesus was calling out to Elijah, then he was denouncing Elijah for abandoning him. This would not be in keeping with Jesus' perfected state, nor would it be in keeping with the strong teacher-student bond that is reported to have existed between John and Jesus. Many Hindus consider Jesus to be an Avatar, they also consider Elisha to be a Devi.
Many modern New Age followers are practitioners of what can be called New Age Eclectism -- that is they borrow the beliefs of many religious traditions and incorporate these doctrines into their own belief systems. This is a game of pick and choose, and usually only those doctrines that support a New Age belief are incorporated, while anything that tends to contradict the New Age belief is left behind. Many different New Age groups have combined much of the above data to create a New Age Jesus who is the "Avatar of the Piscean Age". He has been transformed into an "Ascended Master" -- one who has supposedly reached the highest level of spiritual evolution and consciousness. Jesus is just one of many Ascended Masters. An Ascended Master is one who has perfected his or herself to the point where it is no longer necessary to complete new life cycles. Instead, the Ascended Master ascends to become one with God. There are now many New Age Ascended Master cults throughout the world.
In XWP we see Eli go from a flawed man to a perfected Avatar, but we still have to wonder is he "Elisha" or is he "Jesus". In "Devi", Eli calls out "Abba"; Abba is often used in the New Testament, but to the best of my knowledge it is not used in the Old Testament. Abba means "Father" or more literally, it means "Daddy". "Father" would be the language of Elisha who would see God as an Old Testament Patriarch. "Daddy" is the language that Jesus used as he tried to show the people that God was not the brooding Patriarch of the Old Testament but instead was a loving father that dotes on His children. By calling out to Abba, I am left with the belief that Eli is a disguised Jesus. Note also that Eli's robe contains those chakras that are associated with both yoga and the "New Age Jesus". So, if Eli is Jesus he is the "New Age Jesus" and not the Jesus of Orthodox Christianity. He is Elisha perfected and the Avatar of the Piscean Age.
Rob Tapert and the XWP staff have often used New Age material in their stories. One example is the Tarot deck in "The Bitter Suite". An other example is Gaia and the Sisters of Gaia. Even though Gaia was the Greek Earth goddess she has taken on a New Age significance as the personification of the Organism Earth and also the "Goddess". In the India Arc, TPTB once again seem to be using New Age Sources.
Another example of a New Age source associated with the Ascended Masters is the concept of the "Elohim". In the Bible, Elohim is one of the names of God. In Genesis there are actually two creation stories. In the first one it is Elohim who creates the world. while in the second version Yahweh is the creator. Elohim is actually a plural word, and in Genesis 1:26-27 we hear God saying: " Let us make man (mankind) in our image, in the likeness of ourselves, and let them be the masters of the fish of the sea, the birds of heaven, the cattle, all the wild beasts and all the reptiles that crawl upon the earth." God created man (mankind) in the image of Himself, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them."
Now the New Age argument becomes that A: God is plural; B: God created mankind in their image; C: mankind was created male and female. This denotes that God is plural and has a male and female aspect. Orthodox scholars see the use of the plural Elohim as God merely using the royal plural, and also, God is neither male or female, God is Spirit.
We also read in the Prologue of John's Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God." (John 1-1)
The Word is the "Logos" in Greek.
In the Ascended Masters Theology the Elohim are not God. God is the singular Universal Spirit, the Cosmic Soul Who spoke the Word. The Elohim are cosmic beings who convert the Word into matter. They are the Logi or the seven Elohim of the Word and they are dual in that they are paired both male and female. Hercules is one of the seven Elohim and his female counterpart is the warrior woman Amazonia. Once again TPTB may be using New Age Mysticism as a source for their material.
Hopefully this helps to explain the character Eli and also, hopefully it gives some insight into some possible sources for ideas expressed on XWP.
Brian Edward Lashmar
Hamilton, On. Canada
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 1999
Subject: Letter To The Editor
I want to begin by expressing my appreciation for all the work of Ms. Taborn and all of the others who make WHOOSH possible. I was one of those people who rarely watched television until, almost by accident, I stumbled upon XWP while waiting for my teenage son to return from a date late one Saturday night. I found myself thinking about the show during the following week and when Saturday night rolled around I was there again. And then again, and then again and then again ....... all in all the old story. Although I've meet some people in my area who watch the show I've not yet found anyone besides myself who thought it was worth thinking about seriously. Discovering WHOOSH was a godsend. It showed me that there were intelligent people who thought about the show, who analyzed the episodes and who even wrote about them. I now visit your site nearly every day to see if there is anything new. It is always a delight when there is a new bit of news or commentary and the beginning of each month is especially delightful. It is particularly amazing since you do it all as a pure labor of love. You folks are fantastic and much appreciated!
I've composed various versions of this letter many times while walking to work, but, shy procrastinator that I am, I've never set them down on paper. However the controversies surrounding the ways have been enough to overcome my inertia. The episode has drawn fire from several quarters. Right after the episode aired many XWP fans expressed their dismay at the ending. These people saw Gabrielle's repudiation of violence as a step backwards into insipid passivity. Of course this controversy is now overshadowed by the pulling of the episode from syndication due to the protest of certain Hindu groups. In many ways these two controversies are separate, however I see a tangential relationship between the two.
On a week in which the newspapers are full of horror stories from Colorado and war in the Balkans it is cleat that violence is the chief scourge of our species. Even those few people lucky enough not to be directly affected by it have usually been touched by the fear of violence. Yet at the same time that we are frightened and repelled by violence many of us are fascinated by it. Action shows like XWP depend on this fascination for part of their appeal. However it is clear that the writers, producers and actors responsible for the show have never been entirely comfortable with this. For three and a half seasons two competing violence "texts" have been running through XWP. The pro-violence text promotes the idea that, to quote Ms. Lawless, "Women kicking butt rocks". Running against this is the anti-violence text which condemns a "cycle of violence" that brutalizes both victim and victimizer turning people into "monsters". Some people might see these two opposing texts as a sign of hypocrisy, however it can also be argued that the conflict between the two gave the show its moral center and much of its dramatic tension. Gabrielle has always been the central figure in the anti-violence text yet by the middle of the fourth season this role had worn thin and the anti-violence text was in trouble. To me it appeared as if the show was losing its heart and becoming as cynically violent as its harshest critics had claimed it always had been. By the end of "A Good Day" and "Crusader", both well done episodes with depressing messages, I found myself weary of the show for the first time. Gabrielle's affirmation of pacifism at the end of "The Way" restored the balance to the show while giving us one of the most moving (and romantic) scenes in the history of XWP. To me the scene was nearly perfect moving the heart to song and tears simultaneously. I have no doubt that Gabrielle's decision was the right one both morally and dramatically. I do have some doubts that the writers, except perhaps Mr. Stewart, will be able to pull it off. Pacifism at its best is not a timid fleeing from conflict but rather a confrontation in which we simultaneously face the evil within and without. It is always courageous, it is always noble, but it is also often futile and those who adopt it must be willing to pay a great price. So far the writers have shown little indication that they understand pacifism in this way and it is likely that they will be able to sustain Gabrielle's decision or infuse it with the dignity it deserves. However, to some extent this did not matter to me. No matter what else happens TPTB gave me the scene of which I dreamed and I was content.
And now that has been taken away. Ironically the same land that gave us Gandhi and the greatest triumph of non violent resistance is also a land divided into hostile and often warring "communities". These communities are separated from each other by many barriers including language, ethnicity, caste and sometimes religion. It was Gandhi's and Nehru's dream that the many Indian communities would be able to live together in peace and mutual respect. However there have been many who did not share this vision and the results have often been horrible: over a period of two months during partition (the division of the subcontinent into the nations of India and Pakistan) an estimated 500,000 people died simply because they were members of the wrong community in the wrong place at the wrong time. Violence between communities has continued sporadically in the 50 years since independence. One of the major groups inciting this violence are those sometimes known in India as the "Hindu fundamentalists". These people look upon India as a basically Hindu nation and resent both non Hindus and the vision of a tolerant, secular society championed by Nehru and Gandhi. One of the favorite tricks of these groups is to discover some "insult" to Hinduism, for example a mosque built on what was once purportedly a Hindu sacred site, and then use it to build up resentment and expand their power. I was in India once when the resentment fanned by these groups exploded in violence by Hindus against Moslems. After these riots Moslems whom I had known for years, and who had shown every sign of considering themselves thoroughly Indian, took me aside to tell me how frightened they were and to ask if there was any way I could help them move to the United States. Even sadder were those Hindu friends who took me aside to explain that, although they would never condone violence, the Moslems had been "asking for it". When analyzed their reasons turned out to be nothing more than the fact that the Moslems were not Hindus. The tactics used by the Hindu fundamentalists on the subcontinent groups are very similar to the tactics used by some Hindu groups in the United States against "The Way". There may be a closer connection as well. Achal Mehra in his editorial for the little india site (now available at http://xenite.simplenet.com/protest/littleindia.html) draws such a connection. Moreover, the spokesmen for the Hindu Anti Defamation League also claims to be a spokesman for the VHP (Vishwa Hindu Parishad) - one of the most militant of the Hindu groups. Taking offense when no offense was intended can be an aggressive act and a preparation for even more aggression. It is one of the prime ways in which the wheels in the cycle of violence are kept oiled and turning. Ironically this aggression has been turned against one of the few western television shows to ever take the Hindu epics seriously.
I'm not Hindu nor am I Indian. However, I have worked and lived in India off and on over the last twenty years. Discovering the two epics the "Ramayana" and "Mahabarata" were important keys to understanding India culture for their influence is ubiquitous. They have been paraphrased in each of the major Indian languages (including English), dramatized in dance and theater, and adapted for movies and comic books. Scenes from the epics appear on the walls of temples, restaurants and hotel lobbies and references to them are sprinkled throughout Indian novels, newspapers and magazines. To Hindus they have a special religious significance. However, their literary value is obvious even to a non Hindu: they can be read as exciting adventure stories, as moving romances or as profound commentaries on the human condition. To the best of my knowledge, only one episode of a television show has ever aired in the United States that showed even the slightest familiarity with either epic. This of course is the XWP episode "The Way". Not only did this episode treat the epics with a great deal of respect but it also managed to capture just a little bit of their "feel". Now it will never be done again. It is very unlikely that a larger, non Indian audience in North America will be introduced to these works in a way which they will find accessible. This may please the Hindu fundamentalist but for the rest of us it is a great loss. I've signed the petitions and will send the various letters but I have very little expectation that the decision of the studio will be reversed. Television programs can simply not afford the kind of controversy that "The Way" stirred up. It is actually up to us, the fans of XWP to keep "The Way" alive. This is the episode that may be gone but we should not allow it to be forgotten.
From: James Donnelly
Subject: Letter to the Editor
Date: Wed, 14 Apr 1999
A response to the Xena/Krishna Controversy:
In light of the recent uproar of Xena: Warrior Princes and its depiction of Hindu deities in the episode "The Way," it is important to note that many other television programs skewer or make light of existing religions. Whatever might be said about Xena "fictionalization" of Krishna and other important Hindu figures, Xena was not the first, nor will it be the last program to debase important religious faiths. In general, except for a very few religious programs on a very few stations, television should be considered the enemy of religion, and religious people should act accordingly.
Touched by an Angel's Message to Viewers What is Touched by an Angel's message to Christian believers? As has been noted in the press relapses, The American Christians Against Defamation, the Roman Catholic Church and other Christian organizations have expressed concern that the producers of Touched would treat The Lord God as a fictional character and/or in a disrespectful manner. This has always been the ACAD's first and foremost concern, and nobody who has viewed the show can deny that the presentation of The Lord God, The Angel of Death and others is highly fictionalized. Let us examine this and other messages that this "Touched" program clearly conveys, both directly and by inference.
Touched presents The Lord God as a fictional character who has helped (or warred with) Tess and Monica in other shows. To treat The Lord God as a fictional character whom scriptwriters can manipulate for the sole purpose of creating an interesting plot is not pleasing to sincere devotees of Christianity. Even if The Lord God is portrayed in a "good" or "favorable" role, it is still of great concern because it gives the distinct impression that He is fictional - which in turn calls into question the truth and reality of His transcendental pastimes as described in Biblical literature. Are such literatures also the product of creative writing? Fictionalizing The Lord God means having Him speak words He never said and do things He never did. To treat The Lord God as a fictional character is to deny His divinity and present Him as a mere myth, rather than as the Supreme Being.
Another major problem Christians have with Touched is the obvious lesbian relationship between Tess and Monica. By making Tess and Monica angels, we also get the subtle message that the Supreme Being, The Lord God, and great devotees of the Lord such as The Angel of Death give their blessing to lesbian relationships. Although this particular episode didn't have any overtly lesbian scenes, it is common knowledge that Monica is a lesbian icon, a lesbian hero, and that lesbians make up a large part of the viewing audience. (Those who question this can visit this website with pictures of Tess and Monica kissing, bathing together, etc.) In this show we have The Lord God and The Angel of Death helping unite Tess with Monica, her lesbian girlfriend, which may be misinterpreted as an endorsement by The angel of Death and The Lord God of the lesbian lifestyle when in fact it is condemned in the biblical literature. (We swear! It's somewhere in there, we just didn't have time to look it! ! up!)
Clearly this show should be alarming, insulting and offensive to any Christian who sincerely appreciates Christian culture, whether worshiper of The Lord God, or whether a worshiper of the Jesus, or the Holy Ghost. It treats the whole Christian culture very lightly, and shows that the producers simply see The Bible as a "treasure chest" to draw and create fictional plots and characters from.
The Supreme Being is a real person, very dear to His millions and millions of devotees around the world. His pastimes are real; they are not fictitious. To create so-called pastimes of The Lord God, and to put words in His mouth, even if they appear to be favorable ones, is offensive to Him. We feel a sincere responsibility to speak up on The Lord God's behalf. We do not want Him to be known by the world in a fictional manner.
Joking aside, it is probably worth mentioning that this is not meant as disrespect to the Hindu organizations who launched the complaint. The intention is to only refocus everyone of the fact that this is a TV show, even for those of us who are quite obsessed with the Xena phenomenon. And what a wonderful TV show it is, that it can launch this sort of controversy and that its fan are so passionately involved in the world of the show that we take any criticism against it seriously.
Oh, and the metaphysics of this argument just kill me. Most of us consider Xena to be fictional (most of us!) so wouldn't any interaction with the Gods, Hindu or otherwise, be fictional also? I mean, Xena can help David slay Goliath on the show but I don't think the story in the Old Testament changes the minute a Xena episode airs. If people really believe that Xena is mentioned in The Bible or Vedic Scriptures or in Greek Myth then they are going to have some surprises in store when they actually sit down to read those texts.
Ah... Rant over.
Subject: Re: Letter to editor
Date: Wed, 28 Apr 1999
From: Kaye Hanley
Re: Whoosh promotion of "anti-censorship" campaigns
"Many agendas are worthy of consideration. However, those born out of bigotry and intolerance must be fought."
We note that Tapert's letter "to those concerned" ends with bulldog resolve. However, this is the very same producer who secretly caved in to the studio over the script for FF&G at the eleventh hour. Without the indiscretions of Josh Becker, we would never have known about that little victory for the intolerant.
Suddenly the fans are roused to fight the "censorship" of a programme which was actually broadcast (before being withdrawn by its OWN makers). And Whoosh is further inciting them to do it.
Why did you not promote a protest campaign over the real censorship of FF&G? Why are you backing campaigns to reinstate The Way to repeat syndication? Is it because one of the Hindu protesters in the pack voiced anti-gay sentiments? Forget those fanatics. Surely there is enough already in this farrago of gore, fabrication and racism to warrant that the episode never sees the light of day again.
When Tapert talks about "misinformation and outright lies", he might easily be referring to Stewart's bastardisation of the Bhagavad Gita. Yet, surviving his mangling, The Way still reeks of the racist caste philosophies expounded in that literature. This, one assumes, is the culmination of the "spiritual quest" - an "enlightenment" to which S4 has been working. Because of The Way, the lead characters must operate from a specified pigeonhole to be "right". They must behave according to what is appropriate in their "natures". The fundamental tenet of racism. Hanuman's pursuit of "the way of obedience" flags alert.
Krishna from the Bhagavad Gita;
"Better thine own work is, though done with fault, than doing others work even excellently. He shall not fall in sin who fronts the task set him by Nature's hand. Let no man leave his natural duty, Prince. Though it bear blame."
At the same time as it covertly embraces this perverted dogma (which is outlawed in India and rejected by modern Hindu philosophers), in the background of XWP S4, Indians with short-fuse tempers (who all seem to be Sikhs for some reason) wave hands and cover heads like many another old Hollywood stereotype vision of the Third World. Ugly.
What sort of morality is XWP currently aspiring to? All notions of "redemption" and "forgiveness" have been sacrificed on the altar of reincarnation - killing the original premise. As if for a substitute, the audience is now invited to thrill to the allure of Xena's less-than-repressed violent tendencies while having a laugh at the impressionable pacifism of Gabrielle. In The Convert (as in The Deliverer) homicide is elevated to a rite of passage. Pretty sick message. Xena reassures us that *the first is the worst* before stabbing yet another female opponent. Hmm. One wonders if Lawless remembers saying XWP would never show this sort of violence towards women? Or was she just following the way of an actor and repeating the expedient publicity of her producer? Maybe.
It is certainly the way of a producer to fall on his sword at the behest of his studio. Krishna would doubtless agree that Tapert has done his duty. ;-)
Date: Fri, 30 Apr 1999
From: Karen Williams
>I would like to voice my opinions not just surrounding the episode of The Way but to the series in general, I think it is an excellent series that not only entertains but educates. My children have learned a great deal about Greek History/Mythology due to watching XWP. We have discussed many of the topics after the show and our children have even included them in their homework, for example after watching the episode of Destiny it prompted my eldest daughter to write an essay about Caesar. Her teacher was highly impressed with the effort she had put into her essay and its content, especially as she had not been set any homework - XWP inspiring children to do homework without force (is this really a bad thing???).
As for being unsuitable for children I feel that this is not the case, in the UK we have Panto's (Pantomimes) around Christmas time which takes a fairy tale to the stage, in these Panto's some of the dialogue has a double meaning one that children find amusing and can easily follow but also one that is aimed at the adults which is certainly interpreted differently, to which the adults are also kept highly amused, I feel this to be the same with this excellent show. As for the violence we feel as a parents that in most cases that it is at an acceptable level for our 3 children, it has on occasions been unsuitable for the youngest, the one episode in particular that springs to mind was in the second series and featured the 'Horde' which seemed to be frightening her, so I taped the remainder of the show and switched channels. My two older children and I watched the remainder of the episode once our youngest daughter had gone to bed. I feel that the producers of the show are aware of the fact that a large part of the audience are children and do take it into consideration.
Should shows like this be censored certainly not, especially on religious grounds. I am a Catholic and believe strongly in my faith, but I also respect other people's faiths and beliefs. I remember the controversy that surrounded Monty Pythons 'Life of Brian', I watched the film and in no way did I find it offensive, although many other people did and voiced their opinions, to which they are perfectly entitled to do so. There was also another film surrounded in the same controversy which was 'The Last Temptation of Christ', I attempted to watch it but for my own personal reasons could not and therefore switched it off and that is the point I am trying to make, if people watch a program or a film on TV and find it unsuitable or offensive in any way they can always switch channels. Where a person feels something has offended them deeply and feel they must voice their opinion, they certainly have the right to do so, but not to deprive millions of people the right to make their own decision as to whether a program's content is suitable for them or not.
To my knowledge, neither one of the films I mentioned above were banned from world wide syndication and most people made up their own minds as I did as to whether they should watch them or not and this should be the case with the episode of 'The Way', let people make up their own minds, (please note the emphasis on world wide syndication as I am aware these films were banned in various towns around the world including the UK).
As to the 'Lesbian' aspect of the show, I feel it is up to the viewers to interpret what they are seeing on their screens. I feel the relationship is that of true friends who care deeply for one another, they are indeed soul mates, each one would die to save the other. As the series has continued, I feel that the love and responsibility that Xena has for Gabrielle is making her more vulnerable, an aspect that I personally feel is a great area to develop, as Xena had always been a strong, totally independent person who needed no-one, before meeting Gaby. This strong need for independence has been superbly changed as the series developed.
To remove a film, or an episode of a TV series that a person or a group of people may have taken offence to would bring the world of entertainment to a standstill, as I'm sure that for every film or TV series made there is someone out there in this big world who will take a dislike to it for one reason or another. I am a very shy person who usually keeps my opinions to myself, the type of person who gets her husband to phone up a shop to complain because I can't do it myself (Ok I usually stand in the background whilst he's making the call telling him what to say, which usually totally annoys him), but on this occasion I thought I could remain silent no longer.
To Rob Tapert and his Team - I hope this does not deter you from continuing making this wonderful series and others for TV, on a personal note may I take this opportunity to congratulate both Lucy Lawless and Rob Tapert on their wonderful news. Now that LL is pregnant have the team considered the possibility of swapping Xena & Gabrielle into each others body, as they did with Xena and Callisto. This would then enable Renee O'Connor to do most of the fighting for a while and give LL the opportunity to take it easy whilst maintaining the excellent story lines rather than concentrating on lots of comedies?, I do like the comedies but prefer the stronger story lines.
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999
From: Daniel Phillips
Subject: "The Way"
I am an avid fan of Xena & Hercules and I would just like to say that what the Hindu community has done to one of the best episodes of one of the best shows is an outrage.
I don't hate much of anything, but something I detest is censorship. It is not right for any group to decide what can and cannot be aired. "The Way" does not preach about hatred or violence, quite the opposite. So what harm does it possibly do? None!
Both shows take several deities and presents them in fictional manners. It's a fictional show. I don't recall any concerns over the David & Goliath episode, or the episode that depicted Iolaus as a wise man witnessing the birth of Christ. So why is it that the Hindu community is given special treatment. They should be thrilled to have their deities and societies depicted at all. As far as I know there are not a lot of Hindu shows that get a worldwide audience.
These religious groups need to grow up and let these stories be told.
Another point, the gentleman that wrote that letter needs to actually watch the show if he's going to criticize it. Xena would never apologize or beg for forgiveness or love from anybody, god or man. If they had her do that, Xena fans, including myself, would have been outraged. And I would like to know how he knows that Xena & Gabrielle are lovers. It's never been depicted or stated. If they are, so what. These are the '90's. Grow up already.
I am planning to write the station that airs Xena and thank them for airing the episode. I'm glad I was able to record it uncensored and I plan to make several copies so I'll always have it.
I really would like to encourage other fans to do whatever it takes to stop this censorship. This is America and we should not be bullied by anyone into doing the wrong thing.
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999
Subject: Comment regarding the Xena Controversy
Thank you for posting the controversy that seems to be taking place over the episode: "The Way". I was not even aware that the episode had sparked so much attention. I was lucky enough to have taped it and will definitely take very good care of the tape. I was also sorry in reading the information you provided, that Renaissance pictures had received so much hate mail regarding different aspects of Xena, Warrior Princess. It's a shame that people can't enjoy a play for what it is - a play. The episode certainly did not aim to hurt anyone and Xena, Warrior Princess is a show about love for all people - that's why so many people love the show. Whether or not Xena and Gabrielle are homosexual, whether or not Cleopatra is portrayed as black, whether or not there are inter-racial relationships, the point of the show is that we are all people in a world struggling to survive. I never for one moment while watching this episode thought that Xena disrespected Krishna in anyway shape or form. As for her indifference when first being told about Krishna - this was normal for Xena and in no way, I feel, meant to be disrespectful. As for Xena having godlike power - that has always been a part of the storyline (an intriguing part of the storyline). I'm sorry that a play that preaches and tries to show love could have an episode that could be so misconceived.
Subject: Re: letter to the editor
Date: Sat, 1 May 1999
Have you heard enough about "The Way" yet? I am deeply saddened by the recent controversy. I am sad for the Hindu groups who are offended. I am also sad for the fans, like myself who found this episode pivotal in the Xena mythology. I would like to address a few points in relation to the controversy.
1. The "Xena, Warrior Princess" that I watch does not have a lesbian relationship between the two main characters, Xena and Gabrielle. Others may see one, and that is fine with me. I don't. What I do see is what drew me to the show in the first place, a deep attachment, love, respect, compassion, and trust between two women. What is wrong with bathing together?? People sit around naked in hot tubs all the time. Does that make them lesbian or homosexual? If a gay man and a lesbian woman were naked in a hottub, gee, would that make them, Oh perish the thought, heterosexual? And the kiss between Xena and Gabrielle was symbolic for me, during a death experience. How symbolic can you get? She is dying and kissing her friend goodbye.
2. The man who wrote the letter defending Krishna, sure does think he knows a lot about Krishna's mind, when he couldn't possibly fathom, one tiny little molecule of Krishna's identity. Why do people do that? Why do they assume that they can speak for God? In every major religion, there is always someone spouting off about what God thinks is bad or unacceptable. I am sorry, but that is just a bunch of paranoid and neurotic people trying to make up the rules for other people so that they can disdain others and feel better about themselves. God is perfection, and in perfection is love and acceptance.
3. I feel very sorry that the Hindus were offended by this show, because it was a major shift in the Xena show. Xena absolutely demonstrated a willingness to trust and deference for Krishna. Xena was absolved of her conflict about being a warrior and allowed to embrace her path with resolve. Xena and Gabrielle were able to allow each other to embrace their own paths, recognizing that each was a valid way and that judgment of the other was out of the question. They came full circle back to the beginning of the relationship and ready to travel a new road together and then, we can't even see it again. It was one of the best eps ever and it is gone. The writers and producers had better figure out a sneaky way to incorporate the India arc into what is currently happening, because it was so pivotal.
4. ALERT. The writers and producers have treated all the Gods and Goddesses with their own re-characterizations. The show is based on this. Sorry folks, but there are still worshippers of Aphrodite and some of the other Greek Gods and Goddesses around. The world is not just made up of Hindus and Christians, thank God. The show has always taken creative license with all the deities they represent. Is it right or wrong? I don't know. I mean, truly, the bottom line is, that it is just a TV show with some great writers, producers and actors who have made it good because of the very thing that the Hindus are mad about. Unfortunately, these people are very attached to Krishna exactly as he is written in the Gita. And they have a right to their attachment, however, Krishna does not belong to them, or to anyone. I would just bet if Krishna saw this ep, He would giggle.
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