Whoosh! Issue 72 - September 2002


Page 2


Note 01
Appadurai, Arjun. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
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Note 02
Taylor, Rumsey. The Contemporary Action Film: A Brief Analysis.
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Note 03
The term 'Electronic Present' is defined in chapter 4 of Appadurai, op cit. In brief, the term represents an attempt to move beyond terms such as modernity and postmodernism, in which certain values and meanings are assigned to the choices and habits inherent to the pursuit of the modern, to an integrated and objective concept of modernity.
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Note 04
The fact that virtually all action heroes in printed and film media are flat characters should not be subject to dispute, but has nonetheless prompted some discussion. During the development of this paper, the authors have frequently faced the question of why some other particular favorite action hero is not just as 'complex' as Xena. What about James Bond, for example? Or Batman? Or Spiderman?

What makes such characters flat is that they consistently draw on a static set of skills and never respond to a situation dynamically. These characters are all but incapable of genuinely surprising their audience. James Bond has an impressive arsenal of skills at his disposal, but they are all applied in the same way to essentially the same situation. The viewer knows that before the end of the film, he will sleep with the two female leads, outwit the bad guy, and, with the help of his outlandish gadgets, save the world. His sexuality will never be even slightly called into question. He is 'pure' good (he has a lifetime of self-sacrificing service to Her Majesty's government and has never done anything else) and his opponents are always pure evil. His arena is always the same 'real' world of high-tech international espionage (in contrast to Xena, who must act in many different arenas, both natural and supernatural).

The same could be said of Batman, although it has been argued that Batman's sexuality is also ambiguous because of his close relationship with his sidekick, Robin. As early as 1950, Fredric Wertham wrote in Seduction of the Innocent (London: Museum Press) that 'Only someone ignorant of the fundamentals of psychiatry and the psychopathology of sex can fail to realize a subtle atmosphere of homoeroticism which pervades the adventure of the mature "Batman" and his young friend "Robin."'

There is, however, no evidence to suggest that this reading is intentional on the part of any of the writers who have been involved in the large number of comic book and on-screen incarnations of Batman (with the possible exception of the film Batman Forever, which was released in the same year that Xena: Warrior Princess debuted), while that is the case with Xena: Warrior Princess (see Section II of this paper). Like James Bond, Batman, too, having no intrinsic super powers, can always be expected to rely on his array of gadgetry to get him out of a tough spot and save the day. Finally, in reference to comparisons with comic book heroes in general, who often lead 'double lives', it should be noted that simply having a secret identity does not entail multi-identity.
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Note 05
Official press photo, from Michelle's Xena Site, used by permission.
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Note 06
Woodward, Kathryn (ed.) Identity and Difference. London: The Open University: Culture, Media and Identity Series, Sage Press, 1995.
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Note 07
Goddard, H. H. Mental tests and the immigrant. Journal of Delinquency 2 (1917) 243-277.
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Note 08
Smith, M. E. Measurement of vocabularies of young bilingual children of the same family. Child Development 6 (1949) 19-25.
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Note 09
See Susanne Romaine's book on bilingualism for a comprehensive summary (Romaine, Susanne. Bilingualism. Oxford: Blackwell. 1995.)
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Note 10
As alluded to above, the subtext is probably the single most talked-about and written-about aspect of Xena: Warrior Princess. A large number of papers on the subject can be found at the 'International Association for Xena Studies'. The Subtext FAQ explains succinctly, 'The relationship between Xena and Gabrielle is extraordinarily close and is a vital aspect of everyone's enjoyment of the show. The producers/writers are trying to leave it an open question so that viewers can see the relationship however they want.'
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Note 11
Appadurai, op cit.
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Note 12
Wellman, Barry. Computer Networks As Social Networks. Science 293 (14 September) (2001), 2031-2034.
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Note 13
Cherny, Lynn. Conversation and Community: Chat in a Virtual World. Stanford, California: CSLI Publications. 1999
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Note 14
See Esparza, Diane. 'Is there a correlation between the explosive growth on the Internet and the Xenaverse?' Whoosh! #50 (2000), among others.
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Note 15
In this context, it is also interesting to note that of the around 6500 languages spoken currently in the world, a third are likely to be extinct by 2050 (figures supplied by the German Society for Endangered Languages, the Gesellschaft bedrohter Sprachen).
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Note 16
Xena: Warrior Princess is a spin-off of a series called Hercules: The Legendary Journeys. In an episode of the latter series, as a prelude to the former, the evil warlord Xena is confronted with Hercules. In that confrontation, Xena begins to realize the error of her ways and in response sets out to travel a path of good.
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Note 17
Screen capture from the episode FORGIVEN, from Michelle's Xena Site, used by permission.
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Note 18
One could argue that Xena undergoes the transformation identified as 'The Hero's Journey' by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with A Thousand Faces (Princeton University Press, 1949) each and every time she overcomes the dynamic obstacles she faces, instead of just once as exemplified by the action heroes that precede her.
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Note 19
Xena: Warrior Princess debuted at 94% national coverage and with a two-year commitment, and was quickly given a two-year renewal. This level of success far overshadows Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (Kym Taborn, 'Mysteries surrounding the creation of the syndicated television show Xena: Warrior Princess', Whoosh! #3). In the middle of its run, Xena was the highest-rated syndicated drama series on television ('Jeers & Cheers,' TV Guide, September 4-10, 1999).
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Note 20
Innes, Sherrie. Tough Girls: Women Warriors and Wonder Women in Popular Culture. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999). This quote is reminiscent of Ien Ang's Watching Dallas: Soap Opera and the Melodramatic Imagination (1986, Routledge), but note that Xena had an even wider appeal than the show Dallas since it manages to cross sexual and age boundaries as well as racial and class boundaries. For example, Xena: Warrior Princess appealed to 6-year olds as much as it did to people in their 70s, something which cannot be said for Dallas, a TV show in the soap opera genre.
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Note 21
Dickinson, Chris. 'For the Love of Lucy,' St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 5 September 1996.
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Note 22
An extensive survey of the Hong Kong influence on Xena: Warrior Princess by Laura Irvine can be found here.
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Note 23
This seems to span hundreds of years. Obviously, the show makes no pretensions of historical accuracy. For example, Xena was present when God calls on Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac (ca. 2000 BCE) [ALTARED STATES], was an instrumental figure in the siege of Troy (1183 BCE?) [BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS], was involved in the assassination of Julius Caesar (44 BCE) [IDES OF MARCH], and met the Greek physician Galen (129-199 CE) [IS THERE A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE]. Clearly, the makers of Xena: Warrior Princess do not shirk from rewriting history.
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Note 24
Screen capture of the episode IN SICKNESS AND IN HELL, from Michelle's Xena Site, used by permission.
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Note 25
In her analysis of Xena: Warrior Princess as feminist camp, Morreale points out that while the story content of the show is unmistakably feminist, the visual presentation moves squarely within the established male-dominated conventions of Hollywood (Morreale, Joanne. 1998. Xena: Warrior Princess as Feminist Camp. Journal of Popular Culture 32: 79-86), thus rendering the show accessible to the heterosexual male gaze.
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Note 26
Innes notes that previous examples such as Wonder Woman, the Bionic Woman, Cagney & Lacey, etc. all had a male character as a 'safety net' to rely on when the female hero was in a situation too difficult to handle, thereby reinforcing the notion that a woman must 'naturally' be rescued by a man in the end. Innes, op cit.
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Note 27
Ramchand, personal communication, December 1997, St. Joseph, Maracas, Trinidad.
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Note 28
Innes, op cit.; Morreale, op cit.
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Note 29
A good place to start for references is the 'Sapphic Subtext FAQ.'
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Note 30
Executive Producer Rob Tapert in Meister, Melissa. 'The Importance of Sapphic Subtext in Xena: Warrior Princess'. Whoosh! This paper also cites producer Liz Friedman as saying 'I have no interest in making [Xena and Gabrielle] heterosexual.'
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Note 31
The first appearance of an 'old flame' of one of the two female leads is Marcus in PATH NOT TAKEN, at the end of which he is killed. Marcus appears again in MORTAL BELOVED, still dead. Solan's first appearance is in ORPHAN OF WAR [Season 2] but is murdered upon his second appearance in Season 3 [MATERNAL INSTINCTS]. Solan's father, Borias, long dead, only ever appears in flashbacks, and is killed spectacularly onscreen in ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE. Perdicas, who first appears in BEWARE GREEKS BEARING GIFTS, is murdered immediately after his marriage to Gabrielle in RETURN OF CALLISTO.
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Note 32
Swenson, Gregory. 'Alexander the Great: Blueprint for Xena?' Whoosh! #4, 1996
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Note 33
Raman, Shankar. Framing 'India': The Colonial Imaginary in Early Modern Culture. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. 2001.
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Note 34
Page 91, Raman, op cit.
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Note 35
Raman, op cit.
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Note 36
Page 93, Raman op cit.
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Note 37
Xena: Warrior Princess plays with the charting of unknown territory in other ways as well. The episode HERE SHE COMES... MISS AMPHIPOLIS, for example, features a beauty contest for the title of 'Miss Known World'.
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Note 38
Page 9, Appadurai, op cit.
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Note 39
Innes, op cit.
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Note 40
As further evidence of this claim, consider Arnold Schwarzenegger's 1993 film The Last Action Hero. In this film, Schwarzenegger, whose name is synonymous with the conventional action hero, plays a caricature conglomeration of all his previous roles who is magically brought into the real world, and is then seen to be completely unable to cope with the everyday realities that we all face. As the film title literally suggests, this movie was meant to destroy the notion of the contemporary action hero, in much the same way as Cervantes intended to destroy the notion of the knight of chivalry with his 1605 master work Don Quixote. Note that Xena: Warrior Princess debuted in 1995, shortly after Schwarzenegger's film.
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Note 41
Pusateri, Karen. 'Xena: Warrior Princess: An Analytical Review,' Whoosh! #1, 1996 ; LaFleur, Richard. 'Quest Update,' Whoosh! #13, 199, and others.
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Note 42
The first and most obvious example of a television action hero following in the wake of Xena is Buffy the Vampire Slayer, although a direct comparison of Xena and Buffy is, regrettably, beyond the scope of this paper.
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Kyle Wohlmut Kyle Wohlmut
Kyle Wohlmut has actually been referred to as an 'international man of mystery' by more than one person, some of whom he doesn't even know, and that in itself ranks as one of the greatest, perhaps the greatest, of his accomplishments. Apart from that his many skills include translation from any of four different languages into English, snake-handling, and performance on weird musical instruments played weirdly, which he has demonstrated on two CDs of eclectic music and in concert in Europe and America. Incidentally, he also has a degree in literary analysis, so he is entitled to make the outrageous claims presented in this paper.

Favorite episode: THE BITTER SUITE (58/312)
Favorite line: Autolycus: "You see, a woman's chastity is like a new hat: a beautiful thing that's going to kill me." ROYAL COUPLE OF THIEVES (17/117)
First episode seen: THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)
Least favorite episode: FRIEND IN NEED (133-134/621-622)

Miriam Butt Miriam Butt
My main obsession is with linguistics of all kinds, though I make room for some other interests such as history and action TV shows. Xena qualifies big time.

Favorite episode: BEEN THERE DONE THAT (48/302)
Favorite line: Xena: "You can walk beside my horse!" YOU ARE THERE
First episode seen: WARRIOR, PRINCESS, TRAMP
Least favorite episode: MARRIED WITH FISHSTICKS



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