Whoosh! Issue 63 - December 2001

XENA AND THE SKINHEADS:
WHAT THE FAR RIGHT HAS DONE WITH XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS

By Edward P. Rich
Content copyright © 2001 held by author
WHOOSH! edition copyright © 2001 held by Whoosh!
10825 words


Introduction (01-02)
Nazism and Popular Art (03-05)
Art and the Far Right in America (06-13)
The Style Lives On (14-19)
Along Came Xena (20-29)
Xena and The Skinheads (30-40)
Conclusion (41-53)
Appendix: Report of A Skinhead Comic Strip Reconstructed From Memory: An Alternative Fan Fiction (54-102)
Notes
Articles
Biography



XENA AND THE SKINHEADS:
WHAT THE FAR RIGHT HAS DONE WITH XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS



Introduction

[01] All sorts of people watch Xena. Most enjoy it, and a few openly criticize it. Xena videos are easily obtained through commercial sources. Whether gay, lesbian, straight, political or not, no one can control what people see in it. The far right attempts to show their beliefs are indigenous to white people everywhere and not only among Germans. Consequently, upon discovering the television show, Xena: Warrior Princess, they appropriated it and made it a part of their popular art.

[02] This paper looks at the evolution of skinhead art, how they have appropriated the Xena television show, and subsequently created their own myth around it that supports and celebrates their political and social views.



Nazism and Popular Art

[03] An American white racialist and former skinhead, Glen Withrow remarked on television with considerable truth and perception that skinheads and people like him live in a sort of comic book world. The struggle for white survival as they see it is like a video game, an extension of their personal combat with demons that live inside them. Much German fascination with Nordic myths and fables also had a comic cartoon aspect. This fascination was always an integral part of Nazism.

[04] Some of its most important attributes - art and visual images - were used to catch and hold the attention and imaginations of countless white people. Hitler had been an artist, and didactic art was considered essential to spreading the National Socialist idea. In the United States, what are called Phase One Nazis were thought 'neat' because of the fascination the media seemed to have for them. They caught their attention. Publicity was given them for free for which mainstream politicians have had to pay millions.

[05] As long as people came to believe in some of their ideas, the effort was a success. The effort of Phase Two therefore, was to put before the white public, in a lively and informative way, the entire range of Nazi beliefs. Deleted only were those aspects of the German national socialist experience that did not appeal to Americans.



Art and the Far Right in America

[06] The art style the American far right has liked most since the 1960's was a dramatic, pop, post-modern illustration. The sort once often seen used on punk rock or heavy metal albums, it is still found in Japan and Korea. It is dying out in the West, where superimposed computer generated photo images create the effect. They even coined a name for this style of painting to lend it dignity, to be used by the art dealer, museum, or gallery: Phantasmagordian.

[07] Phantasmagordian or Phantasmagordianism is a style or school in post-modern contemporary art of fantasy naturalism, employing exaggerated perspective, figures displaying unnatural abilities and physical attributes, along with violent poses often with a strong erotic content. Impediments and obstacles are overcome only in the most heedless and feckless manner. Its best-known exponents were American Frank Frazetta and Peruvian Boris Vallejo.

[08] Frank Frazetta's work and career loom very large to those familiar with it. He can be credited as one of the fathers of the resurgence of fantasy in fiction and film. Born in Brooklyn and said to have preferred baseball to painting, his mature career and best work happened to coincide in the 1960's and '70's with the wide media attention given the Phase One Nazi phenomenon. While it would be unfair, perhaps libelous, to call the phantasmagordians of the sixties and seventies 'Nazis', in Frazetta's case he seemed well versed in German folklore and the national traditions that so animated them.

[09] Despite extensive government patronage, prizes, and honors in Germany, no treatment of the subject of Atlantis during the Third Reich equals his painting done in 1972. The watercolor 'Lost Continent' suggests a familiarity with Lemuria or Hyperborea two of the ages of development in theosophy. His work 'Lost Empire', is a pastel based on a story of Edgar Rice Burroughs or his 'Against the Gods', either of which a Siegfried-like figure atop a high peak deflects lightning with the blade of his sword. Both could be used to illustrate any text by Guido von List or Georg Lanz von Liebenfels, two intellectual forerunners of the Nazis in Europe.

[10] It was his extensive use of the character and physiognomy of the Hohenstaufen emperor Friedrich Barbarossa that put Frazetta in a class alone, out of time and place. Nothing done in either Guillaumine (1870-1918) or Third Reich (1933-1945) times better captures the spirit of this legendary king. In the mid-twelfth century, the First German Reich was ruled by Friedrich I. His nickname, "Red Beard," or Barbarossa, was given him by his Italian enemies, with whom he spent much time fighting. In 1190, while leading German forces in the Third Crusade to the Holy Land, he tried to cross a river in full armor. He fell in, his boots filled with water, and he drowned.

[11] Nevertheless, according to romantic legend, old Red Beard never died. He lives on in a secret cave high in the mountains. In enchanted sleep, in a big chair surrounded by his knights, his beard continues to grow. Children were always told that when Germany is in great need, his raven 'familiars' will waken him and he will come to the rescue of his folk. Barbarossa evoked the glories of the First Reich for generations of Germans both at home and in foreign lands. He is considered the archetypal warrior king.

[12] Frazetta began in 1963 with 'The Mad King'. On a charger, wearing Second Reich uniform, he swoops like a male Valkyrie from a red sky on to a French battery. In 1976 he appears again in 'Dark Kingdom', used on the cover of the second Frazetta compilation. In 1978, he appears once more in 'Nightwinds' on the cover of the third compilation. The artist's wife chose these rather mild captions.

[13] Frazetta received his early training from Italian classicist Michael Falanga. He then worked on and created a number of comic strips. Many phantasmagordians work in the comic and commercial art fields. Few have the talent and artistic vision of a Frazetta or a Vallejo. Luis Royo, a cover artist for Heavy Metal Magazine, came close with his Xena-like dungeons and STAR TREK spacey futurism. Nevertheless, none has captured the intense sense of compacted action of Frazetta, whose figures sometime seem to almost leap off the page.



The Style Lives On

[14] During the Vietnam War and in World War 2, the army used comic books as training manuals. In a Milton Canniff, 'Terry and the Pirates' style, a sexy lady in olive drab or camouflage hot pants would demonstrate disassembly and maintenance of basic weapons and equipment. The figure was alluring enough to attract and hold attention, but care was taken not to allow eroticism to obscure the message. It was a delicate balance.

[15] Now the same art style is being used to present a racist political message. In a seductive easily understandable way, these works of art present the essence of Nazi history and sociology. In it is shown the Nazi vision of the ancient world: It was a lively, busy place peopled with humans much like those of today. They traveled and interacted widely. It was not the flat one-dimensional view shown on Sunday school maps, with fixed geographical borders, one type of people here and another there.

[16] American Nazis also made use of another old favorite, "The Book of Knowledge". The twenty-volume set first published in 1911 was directed solely at the "English-speaking". That meant white people. The early editions were decorated with High Victorian art, not great but having a way of being memorable. Among them was a painting editor Arthur Mee titled, 'The Heir of All the Ages'.

[17] Painted probably about 1905, it shows a beautiful, tall young girl of about fifteen. With long red hair and wearing a costly brocaded dress, she posed regally before a brocade curtain holding a George IV period standing reliquary and cover designed by A.W.N. Pugin. A study in shades of red and rust it is a masterpiece of Edwardian realism.

[18] While extremely formal and decorous, the knee length skirt and pump shoes lend the portrait an erotic feel. Full length and life size, she gazes at the viewer with knowledge beyond her years. The frontispiece in color of Volume 20, the work of English artist Thomas Cooper Gotch, it was captioned that he "tried to picture the wonderful idea that the child of today is the heir of all the ages, inheriting all the treasures of learning and the achievements of the past".

[19] Perhaps, but the new 'Second Phase' Nazis saw a lot more. To their mind, it was an artistic forerunner of phantasmagordianism, the apotheosis of white chivalry in a modern dress. They perceived in it the chivalric practice that the white lady was beyond approach on a personal level by those not her station no matter how tempting, and should be protected from that possibility even with violence. The concept was that women, like relics or sacred vessels, could also be held sacred in their persons, and held the future of the race in their charge.



Along Came Xena

[20] Then in 1995, along came Xena. Today's second phase neo-Nazis found it delightfully ethnocentric. Xena was phantasmagordianism on video. They now proceeded to link Xena: Warrior Princess and its immense popularity to the neo-Nazi message. Racists wish to teach their ideas quickly and interestingly. Xena offered a wonderful group of suggestions. After a thorough study of the Greek gods and their attributes and of life in ancient Greece for common people based on archeology, the Xena stories were declared to be an accurate piece of history. Despite every disclaimer, they say the character Xena is based on some as yet unidentified actual historical personages.

[21] This linkage had already begun, by the writers themselves. For instance, the Berserker who Xena battles in ADVENTURES ON THE SIN TRADE I (60/401) was a Norse warrior or champion. Frazetta painted a picture of one. Such people existed though, only in the post-Christian era. License was taken with the time frame: Homer lived 500 years before and never knew Euripides [ATHENS CITY ACADEMY OF THE PERFORMING BARDS (13/113)]. Helen of Troy lived 800 years before Xena's time [BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS (12/112)] and Cleopatra 330 years after [THE KING OF ASSASSINS (54/308)]. Julius Caesar was born in 100 BC and murdered in 44 BC [DESTINY (36/212)]. "We have absolutely no respect for chronology," Lucy Lawless once declared[Note 01].

[22] That is the way of a legend. Xena was determined by skinheads and by the neo-Nazis, to be a historically accurate view of the final decade of the Peloponnesian Wars. That "land in turmoil that cried out for a hero" was Greece now pinpointed in time. The Xenaverse milieu that was primeval, medieval, and contemporary hip was altered to be 403 BCE. As much as possible the costumes the figures wore were archeologically correct.

[23] Technically, Xena the character suffered from heterochromophilia[Note 02]. Her beloved Marcus, though dead, was a Nubian. Her lover Borias, now dead, had been a Scythian. All this notwithstanding, it was the facetious disclaimers buried in the credits regarding cocktail rats, winged harpies, or centaurs not being harmed in the filming or sent to fiery ends, that lampooned animal rights. This was declared evidence of being innately anti-liberal[Note 03].

[24] Others noticed anti-liberal bias early on. There are no purple dinosaurs in Xena, no jolly green giants, and no Puff the magic dragon. Some critics were far from glowing, damning with faint praise. A couple negative paperbacks were rushed into print. The Australians felt the series neo-Nazi and finally banned its broadcast[Note 04]. It was too late. Xena was the world over and for neo-Nazis, 'a lasting legend of the folk.'

[25] Xena and her sidekick Gabrielle were said to be correctly based on the female warriors and amazons of those unsettled times. While the ancient ones could not somersault through the air, and had no mythic chakram - a metal Frisbee boomerang that sailed unerringly and like a buzzsaw would annihilate those it struck, then return - they were nevertheless formidable fighters. The ancient Xena and Gabrielle had no supernatural attributes other than the telepathic ability early Aryans were all said to have the ability to communicate by telepathy, and precognition, a capacity to foretell the future.

[26] Not excessive violence, but failures to take animal rights seriously or be politically correct caused, they say, the major American networks not to run the series. Episodes like IF THE SHOE FITS (80/412) did seem to lampoon the fatuousness of feminism[Note 05]. In the episode CRUSADER (76/408), there is Najara, a beautiful and charismatic warrior who preached peace and love but practiced violence. With Xena-like, skill she battled in service of 'the light'. The light was right. Guided by the 'jinn,' her inner voices, she alone was judge of what was good and evil. Najara serves as a caricature of liberals, one that showed their deviousness and fanaticism. Najara was also an allegory on their animated zeal, their unshakable sense of rightness, of personal vision and self-awarded virtue[Note 06].

[27] Even in humorous episodes, anti-liberal bias was observed. The centaur that declares to Gabrielle, "I am an actor and do not wished to be limited" had four legs. This was taken to be a lack of respect for liberal efforts to aid the 'physically challenged.' Also, though buried behind an Indiana Jones veneer and high camp dialogue, the XENA SCROLLS (34/210) episode reflected knowledge of and respect for the official Nazi view of the relationship between ancient myth and present reality. In the final season, in episodes like THE RHINEGOLD (119/607), Xena seems to adopt the Nazi worldview. She interacts with Odin and Brunhilde, and becomes a Valkyrie. The final season of Xena was deemed anti-liberal, even neo-Nazi by the neo-Nazis themselves.

[28] Her chakram, with its roundness and mythic properties, was similar to the runic Death's Head ring of the SS. Hope's costume when young was that of a little Viking girl. The Solstice stories and practices in A SOLSTICE CAROL (33/209), an episode in season two, were those officially encouraged in the Third Reich. Gabrielle, as a female archeologist at a dig in Macedonia in 1940 declares, "The most important archeological find of the century. Something that will revolutionize the way we look at the ancient world. It has the power to turn myth into history, history into myth. The Xena Scrolls."



Xena and The Skinheads

[29] With what Withrow said being true, it is up to skinheads to write their own comics. Their new Xena story begins after the third episode before the fifth season finale, the one called LOOKING DEATH IN THE EYE (109/519). Xenites recall that, hit by flaming weapons hurled by the gods, Xena's big war wagon crashed in flames down a bluff on to a beach. In a subterfuge, Baby Eve was given the Romans and Ares the God of War carried off Xena and Gabrielle, unconscious and thought dead. He froze them in two ice coffins and then sealed them inside an icy cave on Mt. Aetna. A snow slide covered it. They remained in this inanimate state for twenty-five years.

[30] The New Nazi version has it that, in the chase that ended in the crash, Xena was actually badly hurt. She did not take a poison but the tears of Celesta, the essence of death. This ruse to trick Olympus worked but, while unconscious, she suffered permanent brain damage. This caused her to lapse into comas similar to catalepsy.

[31] The condition was building for some time. Her dreamscape passage experience five years earlier to rescue Gabrielle from the god Morpheus had weakened her brain [DREAMWORKER (03/103)]. She was brain injured again and nearly died in the episodes DESTINY (36/212) and PAST IMPERFECT (77/409). These spells would vary in length but sometimes lasted for two or three months. Gabrielle stayed with her and cared for her the rest of her life.

[32] Revived, Xena was always thereafter given to strange dreams, to lapses from reality. Taken together, her later adventures have about them a dream like quality. The travel to the land of Illusia, her heroic battle with the gods of Olympus, her love-hate relationship with Ares, the battle in Hades with Mephistopheles and the one in Paradise, and the battle with the shaman Alti in season five and those of the final season, all took place in Xena's subconscious.

[33] Many of Xena's adventures, they now say, took place not in time and space but within her own diseased imagination. Each time these strokes happened she believed she had been part of horrific battles and combats. Xena would wake believing they had been frozen in the tomb Ares created for them, for example.

[34] When not unconscious, Xena with Gabrielle traveled the world. They went from Egypt to Arabia, Canaan, Syria, and then Greek Babylonia. From there, they traveled north to the Caucasus across the Armenian Mountains. Noah's Ark is supposed to have come to rest there on Mt. Ararat. North over more mountains was the land of the Scythians.

[35] They were the Horde, the Pomira Horde. Scythians were feared. They controlled all of what are now southern Russia and Siberia. Xena and Gabrielle fought their way north after serving in the armies of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great. They were only two rootless half-mad women, soldiers of fortune after the Peloponnesian Wars.

[36] The skinheads plan to write up their new Xena story in a comic book. Amateur volunteer artists are being recruited. Called Aryan Comics, it is to be marketed by mail or as print, CD-ROM, DVD, or video game formats. The strips have about them a harsh matter-of-fact tone. As did Third Reich children's books, they reflect a Nordic attitude toward life and childhood. While many episodes were philosophical and serious, the original Xena had a decorous upbeat 'camp' quality. The New Nazi Xena comics are vulgar, use profanity, and have a dark side not found in the original.

[37] Left in was detail cut from the editing of the original videos, things like no underpants, or Argo's bodily functions. Xena could do amazing back flips and show nothing. Her leather mini always stayed put. Ancients in the fourth century BCE did not wear underpants. This absence is included in the comics. Using as props actual museum artifacts from ancient times, a dark early Frazetta feeling is achieved. The whole as an entirety is a phantasmagordian work of art divided into little sections.

[38] The couple finally settles in the Caucasus with a band that forms and guides caravan across the steppes to India and China. Gabrielle marries their leader. His two sons by earlier relationships care for the unconscious Xena while they are away. She has two children, a girl and a boy, before her husband dies at about age fifty-five. Xena has two more children by her young responders[Note 07]. Frigg's younger half-brothers care for Xena as she ages and when she is unconscious.

[39] Xena's youngest daughters are restless women like their mother. With the migration of folks during the decline of the Roman Empire, their families drift west with the Albanians and Iberians. Some of Xena's descendants wind up in the Balkans and another branch in Spain. Smart and ruthless their nomadic origins give them an intense clan feeling. Ferocious warriors, the 'Xena Strain' survived for centuries. Some were Janissaries, Christian bodyguards for the Turkish Sultans. Others fought with Skanderbeg in Albania and El Cid in Spain. Some were gypsies.

[40] The last of the original Xenites disappeared in the 1930's and 1940's during Spanish Civil War or, in the German war in Russia or else in the camps.



Conclusion

[41] Contemporary Nazis realize there will never be another empire, a Fourth Reich. Whites will from now forward live in a multi-racial world. They feel white people must find ways to sustain the race without the Lebensraum, group living space Hitler had demanded. They have come to see there would never be another geographic Reich with fixed borders, borders that must be defended by unenthusiastic, dispirited armies. Therefore, the multi-racial cast that pleases the producers of Xena does not bother them.

[42] The comment in THE XENA SCROLLS (34/210), though, pleased them no end. It must be made clear how the white race began, and its accomplishments. In a speech on national culture Hitler had proclaimed, "Kein Volk lebt langer als die Dokumente seiner Kultur," meaning "No Folk lives longer than the documents of its culture." "The happiness of a people," Himmler wrote, "rests on the knowledge of the accomplishments of their ancestors." Xena must now be considered one of those legends that form the far right view of the ancient world and white origins.

[43] For the skinheads and neo-Nazis, it has been an awesome responsibility. They have had to agree on what it is whites should believe about themselves. They have realized there would be arguments over the content of their program. The basic premise behind it would draw complaint. They could make no exceptions. It is here that they show themselves as true Nazis. It is a matter of faith, of belief.

[44] Nazis never debate issues. They do not take votes. They just do not care if their premise is flawed, that it is not logical in all respects. These new Nazis would not accept denials, from without or within. Whether their presentments are true, partly true, or false, once put into effect, this premise is to be believed and defended against all comers. Hitler also proclaimed at Nuremberg that his first seven followers wanted a party with an uncompromising basic philosophy. So too, do Second Phase Nazis.

[45] There is no point, therefore, in complaining about their attitudes, on Xena or anything else. They are not like the worshippers of Krishna, who will write a letter. Part of this basic philosophy is the role of Xena and Gabrielle as models for that ideal of Aryan women, part of that 'Fighting Folk' painted in 1942 by artist Hans Schmitz-Wiedenbrueck.

[46] About 1938, Dr. Robert Ley, leader of the German Labor Front and boss of all new construction in Germany had artist Walther Hoeck paint a large mural above the stair hall of his new house in the Rhineland. Designed by architect Dr. Julius Schulte-Frohlinde, the exterior was based on the fourth century Bronze Age style. It was influenced somewhat by a timber frame building the SS built at Wewelsburg, in Westphalia, as a town hall and home for the Hitler Youth.


Not exactly Xena

The Hoeck Mural from afar


[47] Inside it was eclectic, with a massive hand carved walnut staircase based on early ones at nearby Schweinfurt. Red marble left over from construction of the Reich Chancellery covered the floor. A man of real taste, Ley's upstairs breakfast room was paneled in knotty pine cut from the same tree to make the knot pattern uniform.

[48] To do justice to this dramatic and beautiful space, Hoeck drew a blond female Valkyrie driving a team of white horses. Two white stallions gallop toward the viewer as the Mavican-like figure, whip in hand, spurs them on. Naked, hair flying, legs apart, she stands guiding the swastika-prowed war wagon. This type of female was to Ley and the painter, Das Wesen, the essence of the Nazi idea of folk.


Not exactly a fig leaf

The Hoeck Mural close up


[49] Like Mavican herself, it had a short destiny. Ley set the house on fire and destroyed it before the Americans arrived. With it died one of the finest works of domestic art the Third Reich produced and the labor and inspiration of the artists and artisans who built it. The mural today takes on only a dream quality. Those who have seen the mural only in photograph are reminded of it each time Xena is shown as Valkyrie, or driving a team of horses.

[50] All sorts of people watch Xena. Most enjoy it, and a few openly criticize it. Xena videos are easily obtained through commercial sources. Whether gay, lesbian, straight, political or not, no one can control what people see in it. The far right attempts to show their beliefs are indigenous to white people everywhere and not only among Germans.

[51] Theirs is not an organization. It is an idea. Most who believe it have no money, few assets, nothing to attach. However, it was Victor Hugo who wrote, "mightier than marching armies is the power of an idea whose time has come." Recognizing this, anything that feeds such an idea must be suppressed. The opposition plays very hard ball. So one cannot rely on the veracity of studio executives or network programmers in explaining why they are no longer going to air Xena. They may claim its ratings, time to move on to new creative challenges and the like. Nevertheless, suspicion will always remain.

[52] In announcing the wrap, the Studios USA Domestic Television president lauded Sam Raimi and the Taperts as "one of the most incredibly talented and gifted producers I have had the pleasure to work with, or about Lucy, who is more than just the star of another TV show. She has taken her character to the level of a national cult hero."

[53] Yes she has. That is the trouble. Being so talented one would think he would want them to produce more. This is not the case. Considering what some see in its content that Xena lasted as long as it did is quite remarkable.



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