April 12, 1999 VNN3579 See Related VNN Stories
'The Way' Of Censorship
BY ELIZABETH MAST
EDITORIAL, Apr 12 (VNN) I, like many other fans of X:WP, am very upset that "The Way" has been pulled from further distribution. Fortunately, I was able to see this episode the one time it was shown in my area. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to video tape it, so I may never get to see it again. I thought it was a great episode and saw nothing offensive in it. My understanding is that some of the splinter groups from mainstream Hinduism, protested because they perceived the episode to portray 1) Krishna as fictional, and 2) Hinduism as accepting homosexuality.
First, the complaint that Krishna is treated as a fictional character is debatable. Xena: Warrior Princess portrays many historical figures, mythological and real, within the framework of the show. The show makes no pretense of historical accuracy and the fans often joke about the Xenaverse and its ability to transverse many timelines. X:WP has shown Xena and Gabrielle, the main characters of the show, interacting with real historical figures (e.g., Julius Caesar, Homer, Cleopatra) and mythological characters (e.g., Pandora, Ulysses, Helen of Troy, Hercules, Ares, Aphrodite, Zeus). The show is fun because it is campy and rewrites history to suit its purpose of entertaining its viewers. For example, Xena is shown inventing the kite and using it and a brass buckle to draw lightning from the sky to kill a giant; Xena pulls a sword (presumably King Arthur's Excalibur) out of a stone that no one else can remove, then puts it back; Gabrielle argues that the world is round instead of flat and insists that one day people will travel to the stars. Our heroines are depicted as being far ahead of their time (whatever time that might be for a given episode).
X:WP has alluded to a variety of religions ranging from polytheism to monotheism, as well. The origins of Judaism and Taoism have been incorporated into the story lines. Depending on one's individual religious and spiritual views, the various religious leaders and their God or gods, are either real or fictional. For example, many Christians and Jews, David and Goliath (shown in the episode "Giant") are real, whereas someone of a different faith may see them as fictional. The point is, the show is meant to be entertaining, not educational or historically accurate. Ironically, the show has inadvertently become educational in that a large percentage of its fans often research many of the ideas, concepts and historical events and figures (factual and mythological) as a result of seeing them portrayed on the show. The fans like to discover where the story ideas have come from.
As an aside, I'd like to point out that in the show, Xena has little or no respect for the gods of any religion. She believes the gods (from all religions, not just the Greek gods) exist because she has personally interacted with so many of them. However, her experiences, for the most part, have not been pleasant or positive to say the least. That she would pray to Krishna is something she would not do lightly.
Second, the contention that "The Way" portrays Krishna as condoning homosexuality is false. While the show itself leaves the nature of relationship between Xena and Gabrielle open to the individual viewer's interpretation, the official stance is that the two women are friends and soul mates. It was established in the episode "Between the Lines," that the term "soul mates" is not necessarily equated with two people being lovers. In "Between the Lines," Xena's and Gabrielle's souls meet very late in the life of Xena's persona when Gabrielle's persona (a male in this life) is still quite young. They are not lovers and are highly unlikely to become so. In "The Way," when Gabrielle is kidnapped by an evil God, Xena reluctantly turns to Krishna for help. Krishna helps Xena rescue Gabrielle, but from what I saw, he got her help in defeating his enemy in return. As I recall, Krishna neither condoned nor condemned Xena's and Gabrielle's relationship, no matter how one chooses to interpret the nature of their friendship.
I sincerely ask that StudiosUSA will reconsider their decision to pull the episode "The Way" from international distribution and that those who have protested the episode will review the episode and reevaluate their reasons for protesting the show. I also ask that broadcast stations and affiliates which show X:WP encourage StudiosUSA to reconsider their decision to censor this episode. For individuals and groups who truly find this (and any other) episode offensive, I ask that you simply not watch the episode or that, after you watch something that you find offensive, that instead of seeking censorship, you take a more positive approach by educating others as to why you find it offensive rather than taking the adversarial approach of trying to prevent others from seeing it and deciding for themselves.
Most importantly, I wish to thank all of the broadcast and cable stations and their affiliates who showed the episode in spite of the protests, some of which was evidently quite hostile, against it. I also wish to thank all individuals and organizations (Hindu and non Hindu) who have expressed support in the showing of this episode.
Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.
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