Friday, 29 July 2011

Xena Warrior Princess: Hooves and Harlots

This is a scheduled post, but I'll reply to comments as soon as I get a chance.
Still doing Xena in a funny order I'm afraid! Thanks to Amanda for lending me this one.

Ah, the Amazons. Everyone's favourite opportunity to get lots of women into skimpy outfits. I actually thought Xena was one before I started watching the show. Oddly enough, the versions of the myths of the Amazons that refer to them chopping off one breast to allow them to shoot arrows more easily never seem to make it to screen.

The Amazons are entirely mythological so the series has pretty free reign here. Interestingly, the queen of the Amazons doesn't have either of the usual Amazon queen names, Hippolyta or Penthesilea - perhaps they wanted to save those for later. Gabrielle as an Amazon princess is both hilarious and provides a perfect opportunity to get Gabrielle some proper training and put her in a decent, if fan service-y, costume (better fanservice than that hideous peasant thing she's been stuck in so far).

I like the old-fashioned effect on the centaurs - a simple case of putting film of a man on top of film of a horse, like in the old BBC Narnia adaptations. I find this much more convincing than the awful CGI in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The characterisation of the centaurs is interesting, neither as wild as those in Greek mythology nor as cultured and wise as Narnian centaurs. It's a nice compromise which works well for the story.

At one point, Phantes claims that 'If it looks like a hydra and moves like a hydra, it's a hydra'. It's an amusing attempt to Greekify the expression, but really, how could you possibly mistake a hydra, a many-headed monster, for anything else?!

Often, appearances of Amazons, from Greek myth to modern comic books, are really an excuse to objectify women for a bit, and I'm afraid this episode has a fair dollop of that going on as well. The Amazons are 'harlots' according to the title, their uniform is crop tops and tiny skirts, they dance energetically a lot and they wear bikinis to funerals. Since half the point of Xena is Lucy Lawless in tight armour and a short skirt, and since I have been known to objectify quite a few shirtless vampires, ER doctors and Roman statesmen in my time, this isn't really a major issue, but I do find the title a bit much, and indicative of a double standard I don't really like (what would be the male equivalent?). Again, I know it comes from a line of dialogue from the episode, spoken by the bad guy, but still - hmm.

I enjoyed this episode a lot, mainly because Gabrielle among the Amazons is great, especially her dancing. Ephiny is a fun character as well, and well played, and there's something about the realisation that the Amazons and the centaurs need to band together against the men that appeals to me. The end credits note that 'No Males, Centaurs or Amazons were harmed during the production of this motion picture.' Good to know.


  1. What I like about Lucy Lawless' costume is that she looks like a fit, strong woman (not the usual lollypop head Holloywood actress) and it doesn't get in the way of her fighting and moving. I must look out some Xenas, I love them!

  2. It does suit her, and seems reasonably practical - ish!


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