From the Editor-in-Chief:
50 Issues, New Blood, and a New Season
From the Guest Editor:
From the Graphics Editor:
The Night Of The Malcontent Milestones
From the Editor-in-Chief:
50 Issues, New Blood, and a New Season
Fifty issues are a lot of issues. Four years and two months' worth, in fact. Then add the 4 months it took Betsy Book and I to figure out what the heck we were doing before we released the first issue, and then the two months prior to that that I published the Xena Media Review. THAT adds up to a lot of editing, writing, worrying, and cajoling of people to donate time and creativity. If anyone wonders what I have been doing for the past five years, it is painfully obvious when you visit http://whoosh.org. What? Me complain? Pshaw! It has been a most exciting and unpredictable ride. I would not trade it for anything. Well, most anything. MOREOVER, it has only been possible because of XENA fandom being such a generous and clever fan base. WHOOSH only was possible because of over a thousand XENA fans decided that they wanted a place to share their observations, thoughts, opinions, and theories about the show and were willing to do something about it. Other genre fandoms have fan fiction, graphic intensive sites, portals, and other traditional web sites, but XENA fandom has something that no other fandom has ever had or has now, and that is WHOOSH. Pat yourselves on the back and buy yourself a drink, gentle reader. We would not be here right now without YOU.
On the occurrence of this 50th issue, I invited readers and contributors to share with us their feelings, observations, memories, and reflections about their past 5 years in fandom. Many responded and what has resulted is this issue, a slice-of-life of what participating in XENA fandom is like. It took me six months of planning and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have in preparing it.
Beth Gaynor has been with us sooo long I can hardly remember a time without her. She has done just about everything around here, especially when she rolled up her shirt sleeves and jumped into the fray to help us out during many of our mini-traumas and emergencies. She codes, she writes reviews, she does alt tagging, she slices, she dices, and she owns a whip. Well, you get the idea. She is quite the Renaissance Woman. It is with great sadness that I have to announce that Beth will be leaving the WHOOSH Executive Committee. She plans to continue writing her reviews (thanks goodness!), but will retire from all other WHOOSH activities (no more slicing and dicing, sniff). I will hate to see her go, but I am envious of her deciding to opt for a life again. I know she will be freeing up a lot of time by leaving. She donated countless hours per month making sure each article was coded, that each new episode of XENA was reviewed, and she did not explode or anything. What a woman!
Since nature abhors a vacuum, replacing Beth Gaynor on the WHOOSH Executive Committee will be Cynthia Ward Cooper, who started with WHOOSH back in the Pleistocene when she agreed to take over the XENA FAQ when it was given to WHOOSH to maintain. Today is Cynthia's first day on the job (November 1st), so be nice to her. Cynthia will take over Beth's coding duties, continue working selflessly on the FAQ, and still help us out on those more complex editing jobs. Hey! She is a Renaissance Woman too!
A New Season
The new and exciting genre TV season is upon us again, postponed for most part because of the Olympics. I spent a Saturday watching a slew of premieres and follow up episodes. The lone wolf in not waiting for the Olympics to end, RELIC HUNTER aired its third episode of the second season when everyone else was airing their season premieres.
Although well into the season, I found RELIC HUNTER's "Last of the Mohicas" to be worthy of a season opener. RELIC HUNTER is a show with a great concept that is floundering to find itself. I was disturbed by the turn to overt fantasy that the show exhibited late last season. However, the fantasy elements of "Mohicas" were done sparingly and the show only dwelt upon those elements literally the first and last few minutes of the show. "Mohicas" was one of the best episodes of the show in that it did not dwell gratuitously upon Tia Carerra's body (or anyone else's for that matter), had a semi-complex mystery, had some realistic and logical action/adventure sequences, and Nigel FINALLY got the girl. The characterizations were not overtly predictable and the humor flowed from the plot and character interactions. Some of the shows last season of RELIC HUNTER made me wonder if the show was losing its focus of being a series that could transcend the usual T&A and low expectations one currently expects when one hears the phrase "women on syndicated action/adventures shows". I must admit, the first two episodes of season two made me wonder about the direction of the show, but "Last of the Mohicas" gave me hope. If it can come out with more like "Mohicas" and throw in some character pieces (I am wondering what really makes Sydney Fox tick), then I will be a very happy episode guide webmaster.
QUEEN OF SWORDS
Of all the XENA successors that have appeared in the past four years, QUEEN OF SWORDS might be the one that may equal or transcend its original inspiration. The initial episode was one of the best premieres I have seen in a long time. Compared with GENE RODDENBERRY'S ANDROMEDA, QUEEN OF SWORDS was tight, entertaining, and established the mythos of the show with time to spare. I felt that QUEEN did a much better job at doing a "first" episode than ANDROMEDA. The "first" episode is usually a mess and painful to watch because so much background is being shoved down the viewers' throats. That is why they usually have "movies" be the first episode, meaning a two parter. ANDROMEDA went that way but instead of airing it as a TV movie, they decided to do it as a two parter. Very frustrating. QUEEN did not, and I really appreciated it. To be honest I was wincing over the thought of watching QUEEN. Thankfully, it was not painful whatsoever except for a couple of things (the swordfighting and the occult aspect). I felt the episode was rather pleasant to watch because it took its time to say things and said them rather well, whereas ANDROMEDA threw stuff at you and it appeared there was no rhyme or reason. Perhaps because QUEEN OF SWORDS uses a strong archetype or perhaps my California-centricism is showing, but I was convinced I would not be easily sold on the idea of a female Zorro. However, after watching the pilot, I am intrigued by the possibility latent in the show.
Of course there is the problem of why when Tessa puts on leather and some lace doily over her eyes, no one seems to recognize her, but that is part of the metaphor and mythos. This is a popular 20th century metaphor, famously used in the case of Superman, where the metaphor was for Jewish urban assimilation. QUEEN OF SWORDS takes that metaphor and uses it as a metaphor of women's cultural assimilation. When played by a man, the Zorro story resembles the Scarlet Pimpernel model: a macho hero who hides among his society by pretending to be a fey, milquetoast wimp who faints at the drop of a hat. In other words, an effeminate guy that by patriarchal standards is just as invisible and powerless in society as a woman or child. The disguise is really the over-the-top fop. The humor comes from the hero playing the prejudices of his enemies while the reality is that he is really the hero, aka Zorro. He is never, ever really a fop, but just playing the role of one to his benefit. However, put that metaphor into a woman and a new dynamic is created. The woman is already powerless and invisible by her society; she does not have to pretend. She is just as much a part of the "pretend" as she is in the hero mode. For a woman, both parts, hero and demure non-hero, can be either the "real" her and the "pretend" her. That a woman could openly challenge the system was such an impossibility that men and women of the society would not and could not see it even though it was happening in front of their very own eyes. Historically, this phenomenon was evidenced by women who "passed" as men throughout history, and are illustrated by how it can even happen in "modern times" by the motion picture "Boys Don't Cry". What a powerful metaphor.
I am somewhat saddened that the creators felt a need to bring in supernatural causes when they had a powerful enough metaphor to explore. This seems to be a theme among TV writers these days. They appear to assume the audience is too dumb to get the metaphor, so they "dumb it down" so the audience "gets it" by making supernatural or fantastic or overly profound external forces on the characters to explain things or get the plot moving.] For example, the QUEEN OF SWORDS metaphor (i.e., the reality that Tessa's society is so blind to some members of that society who are perceived to hold no power -- especially women and children, but also males of certain classes -- that if they see evidence to the contrary of their beliefs they literally cannot see it) would have been just as powerful without the visitation by the father outlining everything for her to such a detail that she did not really have to think about much other than how to connect the dots. In fact, it may have been even more powerful without the supernatural elements.
The star of QUEEN OF SWORDS is not the greatest actor, but I found watching her to be fun. To pull off melodrama the fun has to be conveyed by the actor and the situation. I found QUEEN charming and magical in that way. I am so used to the post-modern post-ironic writing of XENA, HERCULES, RELIC HUNTER, ANDROMEDA, and most other action/adventures, that is very refreshing to find a show which actually attempts to bring adventure, awe, and romanticism like in the old serials and dime novels of yore.
Seen in the Parking Lot in a National Park
Xenites are all over the place.
Kym Masera Taborn
Malibu Canyon, California
October 27, 2000
From the Guest Editor:
One of the sad realities of fandom is the obsessive fan. It is not uncommon for celebrities like Lucy Lawless and Renee O'Connor to be stalked or bothered by obsessive fans who feel they have a connection the star and that somehow, if the celebrity could only meet them, they'd realize that this stalker is not a stalker, but the embodiment of a friend/lover/soulmate that the star cannot live without. Some celebrities have had their homes invaded, their privacy violated, and their safety compromised. Yet it is not uncommon for those fans who inflict this torture on celebrities to be unaware that they long ago crossed a line that puts them into the "scary fan" category. It is a sad fact of life that stalkers have become an issue for many stars and political figures, and they spend a good deal of time and money protecting themselves or isolating themselves from these people.
I, like most of you, am upset by that type of behavior. I'm also upset by the growing trend for fans to stalk or harass other fans. For anyone who may not get the point, I'm speaking of Xena fandom since it's the only fan base in which I'm involved. Over the past couple of years I've heard more and more often from other fans who are stalked online and in real life by other fans who think they "know" the other fan, have some connection with him or her, and/or feel that the object of their desires isn't giving them the proper level of attention or affection, something they feel is their due. I have seen some really hurtful behavior directed at fans (some of whom I consider friends) by other fans who feel they have a right to intrude into the lives, jobs, or hobbies of others.
Fans are stalked online, by telephone, in person. Well known fans, some bards in particular, have found themselves at the mercy of relentless stalkers who can make life a living hell. Homes are violated. Fear of what might be waiting in some innocuous looking envelope makes opening the mail a nightmare. Some have been forced to move because they can't stand to have some freaky fan know where they can be found. Telephone numbers are changed and CallerID installed on telephones. This is no way for anyone to have to live. No one should be forced to become a prisoner because the actions of someone else causes them to be afraid to go about their normal business, or because the stalker makes demands that cannot possibly be fulfilled.
Sadly, most people recognize this behavior as deviant when they see it, but few know how to deal with it. It's so out of the realm of normal that we don't have the experience to do what needs to be done. But be assured that no one should be forced into this position. And often, we don't report the behavior and that only encourages its continuance. So, how do you deal with this type of behavior when it's directed at you? Here are a few suggestions:
First, let the person know that you do not want to be contacted again. Make that perfectly clear. If the person persists in harassing you, then let the authorities know what is going on. In the United States many states have stalker laws that can be of some help. However, don't assume that your problems will end simply because you take action or report this behavior. Stalkers are usually persistent and some will become more insistent if you try to take action that will keep them away from you. Whatever else you do, contact your local police if you are being stalked or harassed. You can contact a person's ISP if you are being harassed by email or some other online mode of communication. Remember to keep copies of whatever you receive as evidence for the police or the other person's ISP (you can have their service disrupted), either of whom will need that documentation to pursue the issue. Do not expose yourself to possible harm by confronting these people. While most stalkers are harmless, some are not, and your life and safety should not be taken lightly.
Brooklyn, New York
October 16, 2000
From the Graphics Editor:
THE NIGHT OF THE MALCONTENT MILESTONES
Fifty issues. Crikey. It seems like just last month at this time I was saying to myself "What are you going to do for the next stupid editorial, boyo?"
Wait a tick. That *did* happen last month.
Anywise, this is a month for milestones, some good, some sad.
The most obvious: this is the 50th monthly installment of WHOOSH!. The issue speaks for itself as to what that means, about people who have contributed to us over the years and about those who have read the webzine. WHOOSH! has come a long way from the "old days" of a few thousand readers a month to the October ionosphere of 120,000 individual readers (which translates into several million page "hits") this month. There have been many articles, some silly, some serious, but all originating in a love, respect, and/or appreciation for a show that's been on the air for six seasons now. Sometimes people forget that WHOOSH! is a reflection of its readership -- that is, WHOOSH! prints articles that the viewers of the show send in. If it's relatively cogent and free of personal attack, we'll probably print it, regardless of which side of the "fence" it's on -- pro/anti subtext, pro/anti Joxer, pro/anti Ares, whatever. If you think your particular point of view or mindset has been overlooked or given short shrift, you've only yourself to blame if you haven't written an article about it!
While XENA has been a focal point, WHOOSH! has carried articles on other Renaissance Pictures products, characters, and influences. Of late, this coverage has expanded to other shows that feature strong female lead characters, but all of this new crop now on the air can thank XENA at least in part for blazing the trail.
A less obvious but much more somber milestone for this time period is the departure of Beth Gaynor from the WHOOSH! Executive Committee. While it may sound impressive, the WEC is noted more for the intense amount of grunt work performed by its members than for the cool parties or exclusive events it is invited to attend. Beth has been a tireless contributor (well, that's not quite true, I'm sure she gets pretty tired but you get the meaning) to WHOOSH! and her departure will be sorely missed. I've never understood what the appeal of this "real life" thing is, but Beth has acquired one, and WHOOSH! must suffer in her absence. Apart from her monolithic coding, the thing I've personally enjoyed most about Beth is her interpretation of the show and events around it, all done with a sense of humour that would make any successful comedian jealous. Well, not *any* perhaps, but the ones with a polysyllabic vocabulary, certainly.
Beth's shoes will be filled (not literally, that would be too crowded) by Cynthia Cooper, another tireless devotee to XENA and WHOOSH!. We hope that Cynthia will work even harder than Beth for a lot less money, which will be a tad difficult since no one here gets paid and Beth did work awfully hard, but it's the sentiment that counts. Or not. But anywise, Cynthia is another person whose keen intellect, loyalty, and pedigree temperament, not to mention her shiny and healthy coat -- hang on, I'm having collie flashbacks here -- well, you get the idea. Cynthia is a very smart and cool person, and despite all of that, she has been shanghaied to take that vacant seat at the WEC table to help keep us all in line and make sure we don't to goofy things like an all MARRIED WITH FISH STICKS appreciation issue.
WHOOSH! issues aside, the other bombshell of the month would be the official announcement that Season Six is indeed the last for XENA. All shows come to an end, and summer of 2001 is the end for new episodes of XENA. Some people have liked the new season so far, some haven't. Personally, Season Six to date has had me shaking me head and saying "huh?" at episodes like HAUNTING OF AMPHIPOLIS and HEART OF DARKNESS, but then I've said "Oh Yeah!" out loud at episodes like WHO'S GHURKAN and LEGACY, both of which hearken back to earlier glory days. With most of the season yet to unfold, we have lots to look forward to, and there's something for everyone throughout Season Six.
Of course, fandom will continue after the series is over, but to what degree is anyone's guess. Will XENA go the way of classic STAR TREK or will it fade out and disappear?
If some of the testimonials this month are anything to go by, it's doubtful that XENA will take the latter path. Whether you're a fan of the earlier seasons or the later seasons, XENA has made a permanent mark on the entertainment world. Episodes will be discussed, admired, or vilified long years down the road. We may never see any new episodes after next summer, but there is certainly sufficient inventory to keep people busy for decades to come.
For me, XENA is kinda like the new Capercaillie CD I recently acquired - there are 17 tracks on it and I've listened to 14 of them. Some I've liked better than others, but I've relished each and every one, and while I'll be a little disappointed knowing there aren't any notes after the end of the 17th track, I'll still listen to it again.
Hermosa Beach, California
31 October 2000