Hercules and Xena Banner Exchange
joan the english chick
Mika Ariela Epstein
Feminist bashing. Ptui, ptui. I find I can't relax about this one.
Homophobic bullshit. Kerplow!
Alright, I know I see the world differently than most so I'm putting on my thickest skin and diving in. What the hell were they thinking! Did Sears really feel the need to defend men from the man-hating lesbians? Was he making a point about separatism? You know what I mean, all those evil women out there who won't "just get over it." Did he intend it to be so simplistic? Has he been watching too much 'Politically Incorrect'? (Where recently Patricia Ireland was compared to Louis Farakhan with nary a blink.)
I am so, so tired of male, writers/political leaders/religious folks taking the same old tired mysogynist dogma and putting it in the mouth of women, so they can say, 'see, a woman said it!', as if that might substitute for actual dialogue. I'm all the more po'd that it was put into the mouth of Xena. (Anybody seen 'Ally McBeal'? The second episode Kelly (producer/writer) had the title character actually say, "I can't date and be a lawyer at the same time!" I turned the channel, and have not felt the need to return.)
What the hell am I talking about? I'm talking about making the new female character a 'man-hater' and claiming quid pro quo with 'Men Rule the World Guy'.
Not changing Gabrielle's outfit but rather removing large chunks of it seemed rather cynical. It only shows more skin; it doesn't look better. In fact it is less flattering than the previous BGSB. And while I'm talking Grabrielle, lets make sure everyone knows she's willing to defend her heterosexuality against the lesbians. Gabrielle couldn't even touch Callisto, but she can blow Stallone all over Glyphera?
Xena recounts the expertise of each of the men, yet when she gets to Glyphera, her expertise seems to be having met Xena. Did Xena teach her to be a slaver? It's been noted that she taught her something, but Glyphera *later* became a slaver. Are we supposed to conclude that they were lovers? That Glyphera was Xena's slave? We get a trite little answer while they are in the jail cell.
Paraphrasing: X: "We're the bad people, Glyphera. Who you are, and who I was."
Well since Glyphera has pretty much been stereotyped as a 'man-hating lesbian' (the redish inverted triangle on her abdomen was just a little HINT), I guess we're being told Xena was once one too. 'But fear not boys, she likes ya now!'
While we're in the jail...
X: "Her husband was murdered by Callisto, a woman."
Oh! No wonder we're talking quid pro quo. Women are murders too! Why didn't I think of that! That makes it all better. That damned Glyphera should give up her unreasonable hatred of men pronto!
OOOO.... I just get so .... ANGRY... when I hear this kind of convoluted logic used to shut-up angry women. ['Ailene Wournos! Ailene Wournos!' (a woman convicted of several murders of men who she said tried to rape her. She claimed self-defense, but she was a prostitute and a lesbian. She never stood a chance, no matter what her guilt.) 'See, women can be serial killers too!' Nevermind that Wournos did not qualify as a serial killer, nor that female serial killers are extremely rare.]
Where are all these 'man-haters' that Sears felt such a need to make a point about. I know lot's of lesbian separatists. They don't hate men. They just couldn't care less! I submit that this stereotype is one that is made up of male fear rather than reality. Of course there are women who hate all men. There must be. Somewhere. Of course I've never met any. And, hoo-boy, have I met some women who should!
If you'll notice Glyphera didn't have a need to dominate 'Macho Mountain Guy'. He was the one who had to proclaim his power. She just didn't want to have to rely on him. Take that scene of Glyphera and Darnell walking together in the woods and change Glyphera to a black man. White men trying to claim that their racism is the same as the racism of Black men is ridiculous. The same is true of sexism. I've liked Sears stuff, I have, but this episode just makes him look like one more pissed off white guy looking to justify his own privilege.
Xena actually was embarrassed by Glyphera's comment about not being able to trust men, and looked to the men as if to apologize! I couldn't believe it! Since when does Xena give a shit what anyone thinks? Since when does she take responsibility for the way others think? She did not feel the need to apologize about any of the other's disgusting words. She didn't even look at Gabrielle after Walsim asked if she was for extra food. She had no comment when Darnelle inferred he'd have his way with Gabrielle. The only thing she felt she needed to protect was the men's sensitive feelings?
My absolute favorite part of the love-fest was, of course, when the lesbian changed her ways and walked off with the jerk. Or maybe it was when Glyphera's anti-male stance was revealed for what it really was... jealousy cause she really DID want a big ol' beefcake. "I thought he was different, but he's just like all the rest. Sigh." Makes me wipe a tear from my eye and start singing 'Glory Hallelujah!' ::cac cac:: Excuse me. I was choking on my apple pie.
But it was a really good action episode.
c. 1997 DebR
On to the main points:
1. Glyphera. (I'm going to abbreviate to Gly.)
After Return of Callisto, a popular online theory was that Callisto and Gabrielle represent two different Xena what-ifs. In other words, two ways Xena might have turned out; or, to put it differently, two aspects of Xena's personality. I postulate that Gly does similar for Gabrielle. She's sort of a "what Gab could have become." She highlights, or demonstrates, or perhaps subtly foreshadows (a la Lord Nelson's fascinating post), everything that Gabrielle has not given into.
When Xena first gets the four together, one of them says "we have something in common... we all know Xena." The implication, strongly, is "we've all screwed Xena." Assumption #1: X and Gly have a sexual history. Then we learn that Gly dislikes men. Assumption #2: Gly is a lesbian -- not bisexual as we obviously must assume Xena is. Not just a lesbian, but a man-hating lesbian. Assumption #3: Something happened to Gly when she was younger that made her hate men.
Now let's assume (#4) that Gly and Gabby were about the same age when they met Xena. (Only, because Gly met Evil Xena, they became lovers very quickly.) Xena taught Gly everything she knows. Assumption #5: Xena had a hand in developing Gly's man-hatred. Gly took her cues about what the world is like from Xena. Thus, she learned that as a woman you have to be tough, doubly so against men. Gly internalized this and turned it into a hatred of men.
Let me digress for a moment and point out that X:WP has always been a show where women, even strong women, use sexuality as weapons against men. Beginning with Xena's first appearance on HTLJ, where she seduced Iolaus and then Herc; moving on to her revealed dalliances with Caesar and Draco; including such smaller things as the Gabby dance in "Ulysses" and the Xena sexy dances in episodes such as "Royal Couple of Thieves." Like it or leave it, Xena regularly uses her (and Gabby's) sexuality as a weapon.
Having said that, consider a young impressionable woman coming to travel with Xena. Whether said young woman picks up on "use sex as tools to control men" and turns it into "all men are idiots" will depend largely on her temperament, as well as whether she's learning from Evil Xena or Reformed Xena. Obviously Gab had the advantage over Gly in this instance.
In any case, my main point thus far is that Xena made Gly the man-hater that she is. And in this way, Gly is an indication, as I said, of what Xena could have (but didn't.... yet) make Gab into.
2. Gly vs. Darnell.
I got the feeling that while watching these two interact, we were supposed to be thinking a) "See, this is what Xena might be like about men, but she's not because she has Gab to keep her sane" and b) "See, this is what Gab might be like about men, but she's not because she's a different personality." I also felt that much of Darnell's "Me Man, You My Property" act was just that -- an act. It took him about ten seconds to size up Gly, and then he started acting extra-manly just to annoy her. Like a kid brother deliberately pushing all your buttons just because it's so amusing to see you get all mad. Puerile, yes. Misogynistic, no.
As for the kiss which some seem to think Set Her Straight (pun intended): I didn't see it that way either. Yes, he kisses her without permission. No, she doesn't immediately say "Oh My God! Is that what I've been missing?" Rather, she says "Eew, when was the last time he bathed?" Timing is crucial. Gly has just had a lecture from Xena on The Evilness of Us, and then she presumably sat through a long ramble from Gab about how sweet and wonderful Perdicas was. She's not ready to say "okay, I love men!" but she's ready to say "okay, maybe men aren't as evil as I thought." And, again, she's following Xena's lead. Xena says not all men are horrible. Xena says Darnell is okay. Xena even (probably) had sex with Darnell in the past. Gly, falling back into old patterns with ease (and how many times have we seen THAT?), accepts Xena's judgment and begins to soften to Darnell. So that by the end of the ep, although she's not about to marry him, she's at least willing to travel with him. But, she still wants to play Princess Leia to his Han Solo. (Both times I watched the episode, I heard "I'd rather fall for a toad" and I thought "I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee!")
In sum: He wasn't all that bad. She slowly decided maybe she could try to like him a little bit. It was left unresolved at the end.
3. Gab's Identity Crisis
Again, unlike many, I thought this flowed quite naturally from the main theme of the episode. Gab sees a bunch of people who represent what Xena used to be. Especially, she sees Gly and can't help wondering how much of Gly's anti-man stance is a result of Xena's tutelage. That naturally gets her thinking, how much of *me* is a result of being with Xena? Clearly she is struggling with this.
Which leads me into a post I read by Lord Nelson, which IMO was brilliant and put the finger exactly on the pulse of "Dirty Half-Dozen" as well as the arc of the previous five or six episodes. LordNelson pointed out, that she has been struggling for a while to break out of the sidekick role. Her annoyance in the first season and beginning of second season seemed only natural; yeah, it was frustrating for her being "taken care of," but she needed it because she was still naive. Now, though, I think by the end of RoC and definitely by the end of the Destiny-Quest-Necessary Evil arc, Gab is an adult. She's been through a lot of trauma. She knows how to fight and can hold her own. Yet, her moral sense differs from Xena's (a concept explored in "The Price") and Xena's view of Gab as the innocent in need of protection is slow to change. We see this even as far back as ADITL with the whole "I hate it when we make a plan and then you go changing it" discussion. So in "For Him the Bell Tolls" she gets truly upset with Xena for blowing her off; and at the end of the ep, when called a hero, she says somewhat disheartenedly, "I'm just an overachieving sidekick."
But then we come to "The Furies" and when Xena goes mad, Gabby takes charge. Not in a sidekicky way, either. She asserts her own control over the situation and at the end when Ares wonders what Xena sees in her, Gabby merely scoffs rather than get mad. She's come to a place where she's confident enough to laugh this off. Earlier in the series, she might have gotten insecure about it. Now, she knows the answer and refuses to be goaded.
Skip over "BTDT." It's comic relief filler.
And now we come to TDHD. In the first scene, Gabby is an equal. We don't know which of the hooded figures rescuing Dreadlock Boy is gabby and which is Xena. They might as well be interchangeable. Then, repeatedly, references are made to Gabby's presence which are never addressed by either Gab or Xena. Gabrielle, again, has matured past the point where she feels a need to say "Hey! Xena does need me around because ____!" Instead, she takes Xena's "who cares what they think anyway?" attitude. She has grown into her own power. However, having found this new confidence, she still feels a need to analyze her own growth. Hence, she asks Xena how meeting her (X) has changed her (G).
The question troubles Xena. (Segue now into X's psyche... leave G's for the moment.) Xena doesn't want to reevaluate her view of Gab. She likes the thought of Gab as innocent, docile, helpless. It is that Gabrielle who helps Xena stay on the good-guy path (or so X thinks). The new improved self-confident Gab is too much like Xena for comfort... and she has her own opinions, which makes her harder to control. Xena wants Gab to be like an ointment. Whenever X feels herself becoming Bad Xena again, she wants to be able to spread the ointment on the trouble spot and have it go away. She doesn't want the ointment jumping out of the tube and unexpectedly turning into quicksand with a mind of its own. (Sorry for the somewhat muddled metaphor there. It's 2 AM.) This is why X jumps into the argument in the jail cell. She *wants* Gab and Gly to discuss Perdiculous, because he is a symbol of Gab's innocence. Whether we fans like it or not, Gab loved Perdy. Her time with him (RoC) was the epitomy of Gab's idealism: love conquering all, life being beautiful, the woman always reaching orgasm, etc. Gab wants to remember Perdy as the perfect man, and Xena wants to remember Gab-with-Perdy as the ideal ointment. Young, idealistic, not worldly-wise, not jaded....and not available. (But that's a whole nother aspect of X's feelings for G, which I'm not going to go into right now.) By telling Gly that men are not evil and that Gab is a good teacher, by encouraging Gab to tell Gly all about Perdy, Xena is forcefully trying to shove herself and Gab back into their early-second-season relationship. The one that she's comfortable dealing with; the one that lets her get what she needs (ointment) while not having to worry about what Gab needs.
So, I think what LordNelson said is all too plausible. I can see it very clearly now. Xena wants to protect the status quo; she wants Gab to stay young and dewy-eyed. She won't, can't, admit that Gab is growing up and maturing and coming into her own opinions, her own powers, her own future. Like many parents, X looks at Gab and is unable to see the adult she has become, because she is blinded by the memory of the child she was. Gab, meanwhile, is increasingly chafing in the confining role of sidekick and "ointment." She truly loves Xena and wants to help her stay Good; but she needs to do her own thing as well and love won't keep her docile forever. Hence her increasingly frequent efforts to convince X that she has changed... as at the end of TDHD when she says basically "aww you don't need me... you're doing fine on your own." (If you want to stretch this, you could even say it explains Gab's acceptance of Ulysses!) These conflicting expectations/desires regarding their relationship are going to come to a head. Something has to break and it's either going to be Xena, Gab, or the friendship itself. And if you've read even one rumor, you probably know which it's going to be. :(
Other Misc. Questions:
I think TDHD also raises a bunch of other questions that have yet to be discussed.
c. 1997 joan the english
Well, that's pretty much the best I can say about TDHD. Things blew up. They blew up real good. And in a "brain in neutral mode" sort of way, I could appreciate that aspect of this episode. As others have said, it was a good action story, and the fight in the castle and the showdown between Xena and the Kurt Cobain lookalike was "kewl" in it's own simplistic way. There's nothing wrong with having an occasional action filled story like this now and again.
However, I was supremely upset and angry at the whole subplot featuring "man hating" Glaphyra and "macho man" Darnelle. What the hell was that all about?! Was it Sears' heavy handed, cliched attempt at reassuring the now massive and more "mainstream" Xena audience that TPTB haven't forgotten about "good old fashioned american values", that basically the whole subplot screamed this message: HETEROSEXUALITY-IT'S GOOD FOR WHAT AILS YOU! Gimme a break! I exepected better than this from Sears, who has usually been the most deft of the Xena writers at portraying smart, respectable interpretations of the subtext.
Instead we have that hoary scene where the "man hater" gets planted with a big ol' kiss from "Tom Testosterone" and "instantly" changes her "misguided ways". Praise be! She's seen the light, and with a lot of help from Gabrielle and Xena, to boot:(!
I thought my head was going to explode when Gabrielle listed Perdiculous as being "a good man." Excuse me?! "Marry me or I'll kill myself" Perdiculous?! The worm who manipulated the bard into leaving Xena right when she was in the middle of fighting Callisto?! Then Gabrielle defends him to the point of acting totally out of character by going ballistic and jamming her elbow into Glaphyra's windpipe:(! Perdiculous a good man? That's the best Gabrielle could come up with? What about Cecrops? What about King Gregor? Hell, what about Iolaus, for cryin' out loud? And then Xena pointedly notes that Gabrielle's "beloved" hubby was offed by Callisto, a-gasp-woman! What a disgustingly contrived scene to hammer home the point that Glaphyra was "blinded" by her hate, a hate that was never explored or explained, but just presented as "being there".
See, IMO, there was a great opportunity to do some parallel character studies in this ep. In the beginning of the ep, as Xena is making introductions, she says of Glaphrya "When I met her she was eager to see the world." Doesn't that sound just like Gabrielle when we first saw her in Sins of the Past? It's inferred that Xena and Glaphrya were partners and traveled a while before parting ways. Xena later says to Gabrielle she made the four into what they became. Gabrielle wonders if she is what Xena has made her, and what would have happened if they'd met before Xena changed. This is prime material for an examination of what Xena and Glaphyra were to each other then and how that mirrors what Xena and Gabrielle are to each other now. But Sears barely touches upon that fertile ground, and more's the shame and pity.
The only scene and piece of dialouge that resonated with a hint of wasted promise was when Glaphyra told Gabrielle to "Look after Xena" and the following discussion between Xena and Gabrielle about what the bard meant to the warrior. Yet even that came off weakish and unconvincing. The whole dynamic between X&G seemed somewhat "off" in this ep.
The character of Agathon was a laugher all the way. Ares actually thought this bizarre combo of surfer dude, slacker, and psycho was deserving of flying his banner? As Aphrodite might say- "Get real!":) As written and acted, Agathon was unconvincing in every way.
There were some good things about this ep. The direction by Rick Jacobson was brisk and moved things along. I liked the interplay between Xena and Ares. Can't say I like Ares new barber though, what's the deal with the sideburns;)? I thought Gabrielle handled herself better against the armored foes than anyone else, including Xena.The fight scene in the castle was very well done, and I liked it when Xena weilded the twin swords while in her "battle lust". I liked how she tricked all four of the criminals into watching each other while she and Gabrielle got some sleep. And Joxer wasn't in this ep;-)! With a better, smarter, unique sub plot and less cliched characters and situations, this could have been a very good episode.
And I'm hoping and praying for the day when Perdiculous is never mentioned by Gabrielle or anyone else again. Guess I have a better chance of winning the lottery than that ever happening;-)!
c. 1997 EmperorPenguin
c. 1997 Marlys
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I'm a big War Movie fan, and I've seen _The Dirty Dozen_ a few times. The first thought I had seeing this show was that it was good Xena was only 1hr long. Nothing ever slowed down. The minus side is that we don't get to see as much character development that we'd like (I'd like). But all in all, it was a fair episode. BTW, I'm bad with names, so we have 'The Theif' 'The Gladiator' 'The Assasin' and 'The Woman' (aka 'The Slave Trader' but that's too long).
About Char development. First off, we didn't get to know too much about that Theif guy (who Xena kills) but that's okay. He was the 'red shirt' to pull a Star Trek slang. He came along, did his job (to show that Xena was worried about everyone working together) and he died. Nuff said. The Gladiator I would have liked to have seen more...how did he go from Gladiator to Bad guy? If he killed a man with his Javlen and it was IN an arena, he'd get paid. Now the WOMAN/Slave Trader...Her development was based purely on the fact that we know Xena. We know the Warrior Princess' dark side, we know how nasty and evil she's been and we know she used people. So it was easy enough to see where the Woman got her mind set from. A sort of 'Bad Gabrielle' I guess.
The Map...had The Thief drawn it, or was it in his head? Cause if he drew it, they'd just have to take it...*sigh* And why didn't Xena let the Woman/Slave Trader in on the 2nd plot on how to get in? It was sorta mean.
The subpolt with Gabrielle and Xena, about 'Are you made' or 'Are you born'....I went to _Gattaca_ last night, and IT asked a similar plot. Bascially I'm thinking 'We can be whoever we want to be'. In the USA, just about every family has the 'Grandpa came over on a Boat and made a million bucks' story lying around. Gabrielle made that ONE choice to be a bard, and from there it becomes life. A mix between fate, destiny, luck, decicisions and genetics. The way we are, how we act, all has to do with so many different things, it's rediculious to put a tag on it. Genetically I could be pre-disposed to agression (and knowing my mother, that's probably true). BUT my father and grandmother raised me, not my mother, and somehow, even though I KNOW I have a nasty temper, I lack the ability to let it get the better of me.
We are who we are, as Xena said 'You are Gabrielle' and that's right on the button. Once you know who you are...well the rest is easy. Of course, the REAL question IS 'How would Xena have turned out without Gabrielle' and the answer? Well we saw one version in 'The Fates' (I think that's the name) where her brother is still alive. Another version may have to wait for TPTB or some willing Bard.
BTW, is it in the contract to keep switching Gabrielle's Tops? I mean, I like the progression of outfits from normal pesant to out and out Amazon Princess...But PLEASE thet took the GBSB and hacked the sleves off...*sigh* She'd look better in a darker green or simply wearing the Amazon garb she had in _Comedy of Eros_...Hmmmm Now THAT's a thought....
c. 1997 Mika Ariela Epstein
Homage to the Three Stooges. Let's implant the ghosts of Larry Moe and Culey Joe (and Joe, and Shemp) into Lucy Lawless' brain and see what kind of new hybrid fighting Xena machine we can create.
Divine lap dancers. Oh yeah. Hot babes in comstumes made of ribbons, making sure you understand that vengeance is sexy, and wants to curl up to you and make you feel *real* good, boys.
Ripping off Bill Murray. OK, sometimes I can stand Bill Murray. And Goundhog Day was probably his best and most human movie to date. But it's part of the pattern, see.
Lots of Joxer. Poor Joxer. How many times can we hurt Joxer for the camera. See Joxer get his head smashed in, egg on his face, daggers and chakrams in the gut. Because it's fun to see goofy people get hurt. That is, after all, why Joxer was invented. For there to be someone to laugh at. Because everyone knows it's fun to laugh at misfits in pain. Hell, I can't stand Joxer as a character, and even I'm starting to cringe at the treatment he's getting.
The amazing shinking sports bra. Anyone want to take bets on when Gabrielle will be down to pasties and a G-string?
And now we have The Taming of the Shrew, stripped of what psychological sensibility Shakespeare may have managed to invest such a misogynist concept with, live on X:WP for your very eyes. Hard nosed bitch who obviously hates men just 'cause she's never had a good fuck, finally meets her match and melts into a Real Woman. All she needed was the virile touch of a Real Man [TM].
And oh yeah, things blow up real good. Which was the other main point, wasn't it?
Stephen Sears did once write for the A-Team, I hear. If that's true, it's starting to show.
And since I'm not a mentally adolescent male, I'm just not getting it any more. Probably because I must be one of them Glyphera-like man-hating bitches myself. You know. Feminists. I'll be much more docile once I've had a good fuck too, I suppose.
c. 1997 Morgan Dhu
1) When Xena kills Manlik: Watch Gabrielle's reaction. She's not happy, but she doesn't say word one. Not even so much as a "was this trip really necessary?". Is this just her acceptance of the fact that this is the only way Xena can get throught to these folks? She's "speaking" their "language". Violence. Gab apparently has come to the conclusion that talking just ain't gonna cut it with this crew. (Nor, may I add, does she really argue when Xena decides to blow the castle sky high)
2) The whole "caged heat" scene, where Gab loses it. Ladies and gentlepeople, I'm going to say something that most of y'all are not going to want to hear. Gabrielle LOVED Perdicus, despite what we'd all like to believe to the contrary. Was he a wuss? Yes. Did he manipulate her? Yes. Did she love him anyway? I'd have to say, yes, she did. She blew, because she'd been having her buttons pushed the entire episode. Clavera hit that one button. Gabrielle pushed back. And Xena didn't interfere! Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm....Maybe because Xena knew that the only way Clavera would respect our favorite Bard is if Gab roughed her up?
They are taking on each other's traits, to a certain extent. And I think they have to. I'm sorry, but in some ways, Gabrielle has been very much a one-dimensional character. (Gods, I'm gonna get lambasted for this...) We've watched Xena grow and change, and become multi-layered character. Yes, Gabrielle has grown, and matured. But she hasn't changed. We've seen her (in my memory, and please cut me some slack if I'm wrong) get very angry, only once - after Perdicus is killed. Other than that, she's pretty much the stable, sensible, good hearted bard. I think that they're trying to show that there's more to her than meets the eye. That even she has a rage, a dark side. They're adding more layers.
As far as the friendship...Lord Nelson's right. In some ways, it's been too perfect. Look, I love these characters. But in some ways, the friendship's been static. It has been my experience that any true, deep, long lasting friendship has to go through it's trial-by-fire. We're being set up for theirs. Was it really out of character for Gabrielle to behave the way she did? Or is this just her character evolving? Only time will tell. It's change folks, and it's scary. But I kinda like what's happening. And that's my 2 dinars...
c. 1997 Stormwolff