Monday, October 9, 2017

Xena Warrior Princess #1

Hooray! I'm finally getting around to reading this! I hope Xena isn't running a mob family in it.

The year was 1995. I remember hanging out in my grandparents' backyard with my cousin and a friend when we had this brief conversation:

Me: "Did you guys see that show where that woman was fighting that dude while standing on the tops of the heads of the people in the crowd?"
Friend and Cousin: "Oh my god that was so stupid!"
Me: "It was the greatest thing I have ever witnessed!"

I don't know I remember that brief snippet of a conversation from over twenty years ago so vividly. Maybe it's because it was the moment I realized I truly was better than everybody I knew! How could they have gazed upon the magic of Xena Warrior Princess and not been struck down in awe? It's the closest thing I've ever had to a religious experience. Except maybe when I realized masturbation was a thing.

I had never watched Hercules: The Legendary Journeys so I didn't know Xena was a thing. I simply caught the premiere episode accidentally and fell in love. Not with Xena! With the show! And maybe Xena a little bit. And maybe Gabrielle a lot.

Easily done!

At the time Xena aired, it was quite possibly the most in-your-face gay show that had ever appeared on television. Nowadays, it would be considered, at best, a Gals Being Pals show, one that didn't quite have the cojones to out and out out them. At worst, it would be criticized for queer baiting. The thing was, even if the show was just meant to show two gals as pals, it wasn't going to be long before a lesbian audience took the show home from the shelter and laid out a little blankie for it in front of the fireplace. It's not like any other show was developing anything like this kind of complex relationship between two women. Plus their was lots of fighting and slapstick to distract the guys from realizing they were watching a lesbian soap opera. I mean, Xena's weapon was vaginal rather than phallic! How fucking awesome is that?!

Okay, even if we leave the gay subtexts out of it, this show was truly a beacon of feminist light in television's testosterone smeared vista. Just having two women as the main characters in such a tight friendship was a major leap forward in storytelling on television. Sure, you could have a woman who is close friends with a guy. But two women who truly loved each other and enjoyed each other's company and completely supported each other? In an hour long adventure show? Television insanity!

Oh, and let's not forget about the bisexual element of the show! Xena and Gabrielle both had relationships with different men throughout the show. This show had something for everybody! Except maybe the kind of people like my cousin and friend who hate whimsy and just want it to die screaming.

Anyway, I picked up this book because I liked Valentine's writing on Catwoman. The writing here is just as solid and the story is told in an interesting way that puts telling stories at the forefront of the conflict between Rome and the Harpies. I was a bit confused because it didn't start with an epistle from one of the Borgias but I was quickly able to figure out what was going on! Smarter readers shouldn't have any trouble at all!

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