From the Editor-in-Chief:
You Have to Go Outside to Go to New Orleans
From the Graphics Editor: The Night of the Jilted Joxer
From the Editor-in-Chief:
You Have to Go Outside to Go to New Orleans
I recently returned from the 2nd Annual Xena Palace Fest that met in New Orleans, May 20-21, 2000. It was a gathering of fans, specifically fans who knew each other from the Xena Palace, sponsored in part by WHOOSH! through the loving guidance of Betsy Book (all hail Betsy Book). Seeing old friends and meeting new friends is always the best part of these gatherings.
A while back there was a study released that said interaction on the Internet led to alienation and anti-social tendencies. This study has since been discredited, but really to discredit it, all they had to do was check out the XENA on-line fan community. There is no greater group of obsessives out there. I'd pit a XENA rabid fan against any other fandom's and expect to win every time. XWP has some amazingly eccentric and awesomely loyal fans. But even these extreme members actually come out into the sun to play with other Xenites in real time and real places. The on-line XENA community has used the medium of the Internet as an excuse to have parties, gatherings, fests, convention brawls, potlatches, what have you. They are always visiting each other and making appointments for meals and what not at an alarming rate (more than I can keep up with!). I travel in my job. I can go to just about any city in the U.S. and be confident that I could find a Xenite to share a meal with. My social life and just about every Xenite's I have met has become more rich and complex due to the Internet. That is one of the miracles of the Internet, it makes even agoraphobics want to play outside. I guess it is merely human to fear and criticize the new and the relatively unknown. Yet is it also important to remember that anecdoctal information can be just as valid as that taken from sterile control groups.
My next fan-related appearances for the rest of the year will be as a presenter at the Annual Argo Awards at the Xena Palace on June 15th (6pm PST); a panelist at Atlanta's DragonCon June 29th to July 2nd; an informal gathering(s) with fellow fans in Chicago July 10-14; Southern California Xena Fest VII on July 29th; the chi-chi Bat-B-Que on July 30th; the Phoenix Season-Opener Gathering on October 29-November 1; and the San Franciso Con on November 11-12. If you by chance are at an of these as well, come by and say hi.
Kym Masera Taborn
May 25, 2000
From the Graphics Editor:
The Night of the Jilted Joxer
For those of you who may be reading this editorial (yeah, I know, there aren't that many) who haven't seen the end of Season Five and who don't want to be spoiled, stop reading now. Shoo. Away wi' ye.
By the time this editorial becomes widely available, the Joxer character is apparently dead. I say "apparently" because you never know in the Xenaverse, and at the Orlando convention Ted Raimi dropped a hint that Joxer wasn't *really* dead. But from what we saw in MOTHERHOOD, Joxer looks pretty dead to me. Xena thought so. Virgil was convinced as well. Yes, as far as any of us can tell, Joxer, at least for now, is dead.
Joxerphiles are crying in their beverage of choice; Joxerphobes are doing a (wary) happy dance.
I'm doing neither -- more like just shaking my head over opportunity lost.
Joxer was controversial in hard-core fandom from Day One. His detractors accused him of taking screen time away from Xena and Gabrielle and also accused him of "interfering" in the relationship between the two female leads. His fans laughed at his antics and lauded his comic relief role.
Frankly, I can agree with both elements to a certain extent. When he was utilised to his full potential, Joxer was a pleasure to watch. But there were also times when seeing his character on screen I had to ask myself "What is he doing here apart from filling time and/or falling down?"
For me, the biggest tragedy of the Joxer character is not the death of Joxer, but rather the unfulfilled promise of the character.
In a series like XENA, which is ostensibly about the redemption and personal/spiritual journey of a character trying to remake/redeem herself, this theme is particularly jarring when a character such as Joxer makes similar personal gains only to be hurled back several steps as if the character's previous actions never took place.
Joxer first sparked interest in me when he debuted in CALLISTO. He was the textbook wannabe warrior who couldn't hack it. He was physically inept and had the maturity of a ten year-old. He wanted all the respect and awe reserved for famous warriors but lacked victories to prove it. Not immediately concerned with right or wrong, he hitched his star to Callisto after Xena rejected him, and his ambition could be realised if he could just hand over Gabrielle. Yet he did have a heart and could not bring himself to kill Gabrielle in cold blood.
Over time, we learn more about Joxer and his past and see that he is indeed capable of reaching within himself to be a better person. It is those demonstrations of self-improvement that make his five seasons worth of appearances so vexing when one considers that even though we see he can learn and be better, it doesn't stick.
There are some powerful, great moments for the Joxer character. In INTIMATE STRANGER, he sees Callisto (not knowing yet it is really Xena), and stands to defend Argo with his life, for no other reason than to protect Xena's horse. In FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS we see what Joxer *could* be like, as a corner of his own heart is "enhanced" with a little magical help from Aphrodite. In A COMEDY OF EROS my heart broke for him in the final campfire scene where Gabrielle made light of any possibility regarding romantic interest with him. In SACRIFICE he showed he could be counted on to carry out his part of a critical mission, which may well have failed completely had he not risen to the occasion. In THE CONVERT he deals with the horror of his first "kill". In dribs and drabs throughout the series, we learn a little something about Joxer's family and siblings. Joxer was definitely last in line when it came to getting any talent from the family genes -- he deserves a medal just for getting out of the house!
Yet for every great Joxer moment, there are several more taken up with pratfalls and toilet humour. I don't mind a humourous moment or two even in a "serious" episode, but I've never been a fan of the bonehead comedies. Episodes like FINS, SICKNESS, and FISHSTICKS could all be burned tomorrow and the series wouldn't suffer. Call me an old stick-in-the-mud, but I've just never found people being hit on the head, punched, or falling down to be terribly funny. Maybe that's because when I was a kid I spent more than my fair share of time getting hit on the head, punched, or falling down. Or maybe I'm just a snob. In any case, it has always been a sense of frustration for me that Joxer's potential has not only been unfulfilled, but has suffered what I perceive to be numerous deliberate setbacks. It's no wonder so many fans looked on the character's appearance with trepidation while many of his defenders were vexed with having a favourite character suffer so many indignities.
Finally, to add insult to injury, Joxer's appearance in LOOKING DEATH IN THE EYE, LIVIA, and EVE (plus the Furies-induced cameo in MOTHERHOOD) have been sympathetic, developed, and well thought-out. Well, call me recalcitrant, but why the heck couldn't this much care have been taken several seasons ago? If the goal was to build up sympathy for the character before he was skewered, mission accomplished, but I still have to wonder why it took so long.
So as we begin the long haul of summer repeats, one of my biggest regrets for the season to date will not be the death of the Joxer character per se, but rather I will mourn the lost opportunity and potential for a character that could have been much better much sooner. After all, if the theme for the show is that we can learn to remake ourselves and become better people, those of us much closer to Joxer than Xena in ability would have liked to cheer for him more often as well.
Hermosa Beach, California
16 May 2000