Whoosh! Issue 37 - October 1999

SUBLIMINAL MESSAGES IN ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE
IAXS project #727
By Francisco Diaz
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
1725 words



Introduction (01)
Xena As Romantic Heroine (02-11)
Xena As A Masculine Lesbian (12-15)
Xena And Cyane: A Sadomasochistic Relationship (16-20)
Conclusion (21)
References
Biography



Subliminal Messages In ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE




Introduction

[1] In ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402), Xena searches for Gabrielle, who supposedly died when she fell into a pit, as seen in SACRIFICE II (68/322). In SIN TRADE, there were many subliminal messages which promoted the love between Xena and Gabrielle.


Xena As Romantic Heroine

[2] Romanticism was an intellectual movement which flourished between the 18th and the 19th centuries in Europe. The main characteristics of this movement were: the Cursed Hero (the mortal who knows s/he will die but must do a self-sacrificing mission), the Love for the Death, and the Pathetic Fallacy (the character's feelings are reflected in the weather). [3] Today's soap operas are descended from the original Romantic idea of love between two lovers: one who is cursed and knows s/he is going to die, villains and barriers between the lovers, and the ultimate triumph of love which generally consists of one of the lovers dying, and then the two meeting each other in eternal love.

[4] These same Romantic ideals can be seen in Xena in ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402). It begins on a cloudy day. Xena is seeking Hades, the God of the Underworld. Her eyes reflect desperation (pathetic fallacy). Xena has no patience with Hades' attitude. When she concludes that Gabrielle must be in the Amazon Land of the Dead, she immediately leaves Argo to seek Gabrielle. At this point we can see a desperate Xena, a woman who normally maintains control under even the worst of circumstances. Now, however, the idea of losing Gabrielle has destroyed her calm, and, refusing to believe that Gabrielle is truly dead, she sets off to find her.

[5] During the trip from Greece to the Siberian steppes, her sad soul seems to match the cloudy, rainy weather (pathetic fallacy again). Gabrielle's voice torments Xena's mind. Xena, realizing that the way of darkness is the only way to see Gabrielle again, is going to do everything to rescue Gabrielle or, if necessary, to remain with her in the Land of the Dead (love for the dead).

C'mon, people! Who wants to mambo?

Xena's sadness is reflected in the rainy day (pathetic fallacy)
[6] Xena finishes her journey, performing a dark rite to enter the Amazon Land Of The Dead (love for the death). There she meets with a young Amazon whom she had recently buried. Xena explains her mission to the girl. The Amazon asks her if she is able to return from Eternity, the dead Amazon's final destiny. Xena responds that she does not know, but she will go anyway (the cursed hero and love for the death).

[7] Near the entrance to Eternity, Xena finds Cyane, Queen of the Siberian Amazons, who she killed years ago. With Xena's help, Alti (the evil shamaness who taught Xena black magic) had cursed Cyane and her tribe to forever remain in the Land Of The Dead, and Alti absorbed the dead Amazons' spirits to become stronger.

[8] At this point, Xena intends to sacrifice herself for the love that she feels for Gabrielle, but she realizes that she must first fix the problem she has caused. Xena's moral values induce her to do right before she enters into a place from which she may not be able to return (the cursed hero sacrificing herself).

I am now the grand poobah of the moose lodge! Gore 'em all!

Xena is going to Eternity, not knowing whether she will return.
[9] After Xena comes out of her trance and rejoins spirit and body, she and a handful of young Amazons, the only remnants of the Siberian tribe, go to defeat Alti. Xena and the Amazons fight against men and evil spirits sent by Alti.

[10] There is Christian symbolism in the fight between Xena and Alti: Xena as Christ (sacrificing herself for others) and Alti as Satan (tempting Xena to follow the dark ways in exchange for power and domination). Alti thrusts visions upon Xena, visions of death by crucifixion for herself and for Gabrielle. Instead of disheartening the Warrior Princess, however, the visions have an important meaning: Gabrielle is alive. The happiness she feels knowing this gives her enough strength to kill Alti.

[11] Xena wakes up to find stigmata. It wasn't a dream: All was true. Ironically, the new Amazon holy word is Love. This is also the reason, all that causes Xena to almost sacrifice herself in an attempt to stay with the only person in the world that she loves (self-sacrifice for love, simply Romanticism).


Xena As A Masculine Lesbian

[12] ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402) provides flashbacks into Xena's past. In Xena's early years as a Warlord and partner of Borias, Xena has specific characteristics and a different body. Xena's relationship with Borias is based on sex and military convenience, though Borias feels love toward the rough Xena.

[13] Xena's first lesbian relationship was revealed in THE DEBT (52-53/306-307). Lao Ma cares for a dirty and barbarian Xena, giving her feminine cloths and makeup. However, Xena continues to be rough.

Yeah, right, next you'll be wanting to get under a bear skin again.

Xena has a very rough attitude with masculine gestures.
[14] When Xena leaves Lao Ma, she dispenses with makeup. Her headdress and costume make her appear sharp and masculine. Her attitude is very rough. This is apparent in her first meeting with Lao Ma and in ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402) when she meets with Alti. During her encounters with Cyane, her sharp glances, raised eyebrow, bared teeth, pursed lips, and masculine hand movements are even more apparent.

Pre-Mycenean pinup girl

Xena's masculine costume reflects her personality
[15] In addition to her masculine gestures and clothing, her rough attitude shows during her very suggestive and sexual meeting with Anokin, Alti's apprentice. After the destruction of Scyth by Xena and Borias, Xena finds the girl dead. Xena is heartbroken. Xena and her "friend", as she called Anokin, apparently had a very special relationship during their short acquaintance.


Xena And Cyane: A Sadomasochistic Relationship

[16] The term sadomasochism, or S&M, used in the study of psychological disorders, is actually a composite of terms for two forms of disorders, sadism and masochism. Sadism is the derivation of pleasure from inflicting pain, including psychological pain. Masochism, in contrast, is the derivation of pleasure from being subjected to physical or psychological pain. The pleasure involved in both sadism and masochism usually has a strong sexual component.

[17] In ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE II (70/402), Xena is searching for Cyane in order to kill her. Xena climbs her tent and stares with delight at the naked body of Cyane. Inside the semi-dark dome, Cyane is receiving lashes with a branch from her servant. Cyane's face reflects delight in the sensations, sexual pleasure (masochistic attitude). This "purifying" rite is not pleasant, as it involves the pain of the lash. In THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), Gabrielle did not enjoy it, and in ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE II, Otere's expression reflects a similar feeling.

There's SUBTEXT in this show?! Yer kiddin'!

Surprise!, Xena does not expect Cyane to become a sadist and she a masochist.
[18] Xena crashes into the dome, punches and knocks out the servant. Cyane reacts in a very aggressive way, by removing Xena's armor and shirt and putting them on. Xena's face reflects surprise. Cyane sends a triumphant glance, as Xena remains passive (S&M scene). As Cyane aggressively removes Xena's pants and skirt, the camera shoots Xena's leather panty (S&M object).

[19] Cyane removes Xena's bracelets and puts then on, as Xena's face shows surprise and ecstasy (masochistic attitude). Cyane next removes Xena's headdress and puts it on with a rough expression in her face (S&M scene). Xena, seeing she has lost control, takes a bathrobe and runs away. Cyane follows Xena and starts to run on the air. She is running on top Xena (Cyane's running atop Xena gives her continued control). Cyane falls on top of Xena and traps her, injuring and inflecting pain (sadistic control).

Back off or the warrior woman gets the noogie!

Cyane proves her control as Xena remains in a masochistic role.
[20] The last time Xena and Cyane meet in the past is at an Amazon funeral. Xena arrives on a horse, a symbol of masculine virility, and says she wants to become an Amazon. Xena provokes the Amazons, and the battle begins. Instead of using her sword to kill them, Xena impales the Amazons on pikes. (Like a man, Xena pushes the women into phallic pikes, provoking immediate death). Xena and Cyane fight (the S&M relationship ends), and Xena throws Cyane into a big pike. A dying Cyane asks Xena why. Xena responds that Alti offered a better deal. She would rather have power than a shared good life.

Conclusion

[21] The writers send definite subliminal sexual connotations in Xena's relationships with Cyane, Anokin, and her love for the absent Gabrielle. The relationship with Anokin contains an intriguing impudence. There is the sadomasochistic element in her relationship with Cyane. With Gabrielle, it is a quest with passion and devotion. All of these relationships are kept as subtext, with subliminal messages and connotations. Anything more open would likely subject Xena: Warrior Princess to boycotts, even removal from television.


References

Bell, Alan P., et al., (1981) Sexual Preferences: Its Development In Men And Women.

Gaull, M. (1988) English Romanticism.

McCary, J. L. and S. P., (1978) Human Sexuality, 3d ed.

Williams, E. B. (1968) The Bantam New College Spanish & English Dictionary.



Biography

Francisco Diaz Francisco Diaz
http://www.geocities.com/televisioncity/stage/3240/INDEX.HTM
Francisco Diaz is a bachelor degree student in communications and marketing. This Puerto Rican Xenite is also a Web-Page designer. He made FXEE(1), a Spanish site for Spanish-speaking Xenites. Xena fan, collector, and critic, he has written several articles about her.
Favorite episode: THE DEBT (52-53/306-307) and ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69-70/401-402)
Favorite line: Lao Ma: "Would you kill a mosquito with an ax?" THE DEBT 52-53/306-307)
First episode seen: THE WARRIOR PRINCESS (H09/109)
Least favorite episode: KING OF ASSASSINS (54/308)

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