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Demoness writes...

Were all the characters drawn to resemble, in some way, the actors/actresses that voiced them? Like Xanatos and Franks for example.

Greg responds...

No. Or at least largely no.

Xanatos was literally designed years before Jonathan Frakes was cast in the role.

Elisa's basic design didn't change much either, but we did send pictures of Salli Richardson to Mr. Takeuchi, the character designer who was working on her final model in Japan.

The human versions of Goliath, Hudson, Lex, Brooklyn and Broadway were influenced by the actors who played them. But only a bit. We had to stay faithful to the gargoyle base forms.

Response recorded on July 02, 2001

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Punchinello writes...

Hello Mr. Weisman.

I don't come here often, but occasionally I'm struck by the urge to quiz you on something. I was browsing the questions you're fielding, and I was struck again by something I notice every time I visit this page. There seems to be some preoccupation here with "the mind of the other." I noticed another poster make reference to your interest in it (although I cannot find any record of your having initiated the discussion).

While the series was still active I saw you invoke this theme frequently whenever you emphasized the cultural shock that the gargoyles experienced in modern America, and I appreciated the fact that you treated our linguistic tendencies to "name everything" as a curious human social construction. It helped to push the idea that these creatures were _not_ human and that we could not understand their natures or their motivations from within the context of human sensibilities. I see there is some similar talk here of the fay, and the notion that their essential nature might be something that is sufficiently far removed from humans so as to be outside our understanding. All of this puts me in mind of the anthropomorphic problem that the SETI administration outlined for dealing with the idea of extraterrestrial intelligence's. Human beings have a tendency to ascribe human values to non human species, and beyond that have considerable difficulty in contextualizing "the mind of the other" without unconsciously resorting to the context of human sensibilities.

Which brings me to the reason for this post; because being a student of the sciences (and probably less attached to my humanity than most people), I have found reason to be extremely critical of some of the aspects of the way the anthropomorphic problem is treated within the natural sciences as it applies to non-human animals. Generally speaking, my problem is that some of the more archaic ethical distinctions that are made between humans and other animals have their foundation in the premise that the ascription of certain mental capacities ( reflection, emotion, etc.) are the ascription of _uniquely human_ qualities. The fact that this premise, itself, is socially constructed rather than informed by data, seems to be lost on at least most _social_ scientists. What is troubling me is that I have begun to observe this kind of thinking migrate into the popular domain through science fiction. I don't really follow sci fi, but I've seen star trek, and I have had occasion to see the half-dozen or so other popular sci fi programs that one can find on television. I see a trend wherein the heroes casual disintegration of a planet is commonly justified with the hazily defined and indistinct ethics of "It did not harbor any sentient life."

This trend is scaring the hell out of me; because the expression "sentient" is not really used within the scientific community, so it does not have any agreed upon definition attached to it and there is no objective data informing the idea of it. The word seems to have infiltrated popular culture, however, where it finds frequent expression. That's what's bothering me. I see a lot of the same hazy ethical reasoning on this board. A number of messages expressing the confusion that humans in your story were subject to when they "mistook the gargoyles for animals rather than sentient beings" and in doing so, justified a campaign to exterminate them.

I would hope that a reasonable group of people would be given pause by the almost casual disregard for life that is being demonstrated with the prioritization of one life over another based upon the presence or non-presence of this seemingly magical endowment. Because if I am reading the intentions of the contributors to this board accurately, then it would appear their position is that if the occupants of that clock tower had been a group of stray dogs or a family of polar bears, then annihilating them with a wire guided missile would have been perfectly reasonable. "It's all right. It didn't harbor any sentient life." I would encourage the fans that come to this site to give some thought to what it is they mean by "sentience." What is the content of this sentience? If it entails that a creature can react to it's environment, anticipate, reflect and emote, then it should be pointed out that what available data exists indicates that this capacity is only about as exclusive a domain as most land based vertebrates.

I guess they shouldn't have disintegrated that planet after all. I hope to encourage others to give this issue the thought that it requires. I am also hoping to elicit some commentary from you, on the matter of how you perceive "the mind of the other." What mental distinctions do you draw between humans and gargates or faeries. I would be interested in hearing you address the notion.

Punchinello

Greg responds...

Thank you for writing. It certainly gets me thinking.

I'm probably as guilty as anyone of overusing, or rather overbilling the issue of "sentience". I think the concept has its uses. But it's probably used as a crutch too often.

Certainly, I don't want to see a family of polar bears, anthropomorphic or otherwise, blown up by a guided missile.

I don't much like the idea of destroying planets. In science fiction or otherwise.

As to this "mind of the other" concept...

Well for starters, I don't believe I did initiate the discussion of it -- unless you're including my constant admonishments to posters here that they are thinking like a human.

The previous post by Demoness and my response are a perfect example. She thinks Oberon is out of line. But she's thinking like a human, and a biased one at that. (I don't mean to pick on you, Demoness.) Oberon has a valid point of view. We may not like it, but it seems justifiable to me.

But the question of the mind of the other, was posted here initially by someone else. ( I can't remember who it was at this moment. ) I only just answered it in the last few days. Since you posted YOUR question, hopefully you've seen my response to that one.

And to reiterate, my response was that I'm still (in our universe) interested in the mind of US. Not the OTHER. But one way to explore that is to put ourselves in the shoes of the OTHER. Finding and describing and bringing the OTHER to life, whether as a Gargoyle or as a Child of Oberon, is for me an exercise in EXTRAPOLATION.

For example: If I was me, BUT I turned to stone every day AND I aged at half the rate I currently do PLUS most of my species had been exterminated 1000 years ago, ETC. -- then WHAT WOULD I BE LIKE?

For me, it's less about investing in species then in individual characters. Each with his or her own UNIQUE LIST of "extrapalatory parameters" (I just made that phrase up.)

It's really no different with a character like Elisa. After all, I'm a white Jewish male from California who has spent his entire adult life working in fiction. Elisa is an African-American/Native-American female from New York who's spent her adult life fighting crime. To understand her, I need to extrapolate.

However, in order to understand individuals of another species, I need to know more about that species. I need to envision the parameters that I will use to fully create their characters. So I've done that. In many ways, to me, gargoyle culture represent a kind of ideal. Not perfection, which doesn't personally interest me. But an ideal. Purpose. Loyalty. Oneness with the world they live in. Etc. I've borrowed things that I admired from multiple cultures and from my imagination, and I've tried to weave it into a coherent whole that fits the biology that I assigned them. These biological limits also create parameters for extrapolating character. Yes, the turning to stone thing. But also the group egg laying on a twenty year cycle. This naturally leads into the group child rearing thing. One is biological. One is cultural. But they are linked by extrapolation.

[Or... and I know this sounds silly but... perhaps they are linked by truth. By the fact that they exist in the Gargoyle Universe. As I've said many times before, sometimes this show flowed so well and easily, that it just seemed like I was tapping into something that existed. (But that's got nothing to do with this discussion, so let's ignore it.)]

And yet, from my point of view, all this is used to further illustrate the human condition. I don't think Oberon does or should think like us. But don't we all know a couple people with a little Oberon in them.

Keith David has said, as recently as seven days ago, that when he grows up he hopes to be like Goliath. And I personally think, that flawed as he is, Goliath is a wonderful role model. So we, as humans, can learn from Gargoyles. And we, as humans, can learn from Margot Yale as well. Maybe as a negative example. Maybe as something more down the road.

Ending Hunter's Moon with Jon Canmore becoming the human equivalent of Demona, was not an accident. They arrived at that point in two very different ways -- each, I hope, well informed by his or her species. (Or well extrapolated.) Nevertheless, the similarities between them are obvious and represent a "lesson" for us all.

All that stuff interests me MUCH, MUCH more than the exercise of creating something fully OTHER, just for the sake of achieving that.

Someday that may not be true. Aliens could land in Washington D.C. tomorrow and then comprehending the OTHER for the sake of understanding the OTHER will become a BIG priority fast. But for the time being, the human race is effectively alone in the universe. And before the aliens land, I'd like us all to get to know ourselves MUCH, MUCH better. In that sense, an Oberon, a Goliath, a Nokkar, are all just tools to that end.

The concept of sentience, comes in again, as I said, as a crutch. A convenient distinction between Bronx and Goliath, for example. Let's say you're from Russia. You don't speak English, and Goliath doesn't speak Russian. Still you have a hope that one or both of you may learn to speak the other's language. Dialogue is possible.

Bronx isn't ever going to speak Russian or English. That's the distinction. For what it's worth. In a moral sense, I'd say it's not worth MUCH at all. In a PRAGMATIC sense, we're not being honest if we don't admit it MEANS a lot.

Now. I don't think sentience is a WALL. Koko the gorilla can communicate in sign language. And I've got to say, I'm not sure that whales and dolphins aren't squealing complex philosophical discussions every day of the week. (Which is confusing because Dolphins have an eight day week, and whales have a thirty-seven day week. But what are you going to do?)

But even including a Bronx or a Cagney has value in the show. How do we respond to them. How do they respond to us? It's fun to do "The Hound of Ulster" and try to understand how an "animal" responds to various stimuli. It's still extrapolation. Now, with Bronx, I can cheat. I can keep him a beast and anthropomorphize him to my heart's content, because that species doesn't truly exist. I can make him as intelligent as I want. My goal there is to simply be consistent. Bronx can't start responding like Scooby Doo one day. You get the idea.

It's still about us understanding us and our place in the world. If in my own small way, I'm helping to open minds, helping to pave a bit of a way for when the aliens DO LAND, then great. But first and foremost, I'm asking us to KNOW OURSELVES.

Anyway, I feel like I'm starting to get repetitive. But this whole thread intrigues me. Feel free to post again with a follow-up. And everyone's welcome to join in.

Response recorded on July 02, 2001

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Jonathan M Perry writes...

WHo does the voice of Fox Xanatos? Its been bothering me for weeks.. please let me know. cavalier80@home.com

Greg responds...

Laura San Giacomo. Currently a regular on "Just Shoot Me".

Response recorded on July 01, 2001

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Demoness writes...

In your opinion, if Gargoyles ever became a motion picture, out of the well known actors, who do you think might best play Macbeth?

I say Sean Connery. He's got the looks (well use too, stick some hair on his head and he's fine), the accent, and he's played a King and warrior before. :)

Greg responds...

We just had this discussion here. Check out the Ask Greg Archives under Macbeth, or Live-Action Movie or Voice Talent.

Response recorded on July 01, 2001

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Jim R. writes...

If any of your spin-offs went through, do you think you would be able to get all the same voice cast back?

Greg responds...

Largely. Getting Roddy McDowell or Ed Gilbert might be tough.

Response recorded on June 29, 2001

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LSZ writes...

Of the more obscure(meaning you can't hear their regular voice elsehwere on tv or movies like say Jonathan Frakes or Kate Mulgrew) voice actors of Gargoyles, which character's voice did their usual speaking voice most closely assemble?

Specifically Jeff Bennett, Kath Soucie, Jim Cummings and Tress MacNeille?

Greg responds...

Uh, I'm not sure how to answer this.

I haven't worked with Tress that much.

Jeff sounds more like Brooklyn than either Owen, Vinnie or Magus, but he doesn't exactly sound like Brooklyn either.

Kath doesn't have a Scottish accent, so I guess she sounds more like Maggie than most of her other characters. But she doesn't really sound like Maggie either.

And Jim isn't really from Australia. And he doesn't really sound like Darkwing Duck.

Response recorded on June 28, 2001

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John writes...

Hi Greg,
I`m back (not as if annyone is interesting:), and here comes my question :

Jason Barnett writes...
You've stated that you'd like to see the people who voiced the characters portray them in a live action movie. However John Rhys-Davies would make a fairly poor MacBeth because of his size. So excluding him who would you like to see portray MacBeth?

your awnser:
I don't know. Connery? He's probably too old now. Guess we'd have to hold auditions. :)

Actually, I'm not sure I agree with you about John.

Well, now that is the first time, you say, wich Hollywood actor you would like to see in a gargoyles live action movie becides the voice actors. Are there anny more Hollywood actors, you would like to see in a G. movie?
Hope, you`ve understood me. It feels great to be back:)))
CU, John

Greg responds...

Welcome back, John.

But I don't really understand. Are you defining "Hollywood Actor" as something different from our cast, most of whom have acted "in Hollywood"?

Response recorded on June 27, 2001

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Blaise writes...

OUTFOXED

Okay, finally back on track since mid-March.

First off, yes I'll agree this ep had a few problems, which you pretty much pointed out in your ramble--animation problems, especially in relation to Goliath's size, and the extra flashback are somewhat annoying. Still, this ep did have some nice stuff. And the sound wasn't too bad, I still heard, and loved, Goliath's "That. Stings."

Anyway, as soon as I heard "Cyberbiotics" I was interested in where this would be going. Hearing the name "Renard" I instantly guessed some connection with Fox. Her being his daughter did cross my mind, but I didn't rule out any other possible relation to him.
(If I may digress here; I knew that "renard" was another name for "fox" from its usage in a children's book I had had for years, THE TOMTEN AND THE FOX. Just felt like mentioning that.)

As for Vogel...when I first saw him I laughed. I thought he was a wonderful in-joke, one of the best I had seen in any series. I'm surprised people had a problem with him looking like Owen (as I said, I thought it was extremely amusing). Of course, at the time I first saw the ep, I was surprised he ended up having as big a part as he did. I thought he would just have had that one appearance at the beginning and then, that was it. But he turned out to be a very important (and interesting) character in this episode.

Renard intrigued me...mostly because of his unhealthy appearance and use of a high-tech wheel-chair. Despite this, he had a reasonably strong voice and managed to "talk-down" to Goliath (something Todd and I both find amusing about the interaction between the two).

Fox: I loved seeing her in the "red sweater and tight, black pants" ensemble. Her fight with Xanatos was fun as well--he knocks her down once, she gets back up, pins his arm behind his back, and then takes him down with a flip. Fun!
I never picked up that Xanatos was afraid when he mentioned "test results." Probably because as soon as I heard that I figured out that Fox was pregnant (I was finally starting to expect greater things from this series).

Back on the Air Fortress--I had missed METAMORPHOSIS the first time this aired, so I didn't know who this "antonsevarius" was that Renard mentioned. I didn't pay it much mind though (after all, Renard had immediately before named Owen as an ex-Cyberbiotics employee, and that really interested me). Basically, I forgot all about it when I finally did get a chance to see METAMORPHOSIS, so when I watched OUTFOXED again, and heard Renard mention "Anton Sevarius," it was like finding out the connection for the first time.

On a similar (but not quite) note, when Renard mentioned "My Anastasia. My Janine." Well, I guessed right away that Janine was Fox's real name. I don't know why...maybe that just seemed to fit her better to me than Anastasia (who I then figured to be her mother).

Vogel's betrayal and return to Renard's aid were, in my opinion, handled quite well. I found Vogel's actions believable, and had no problem with his change of heart.

Goliath gives Renard a great speech on the difference between the minds of living beings and automotons, and the two have one of my favorite exchanges in the series.
RENARD: "One thing I do know is your debt to me has been paid in full. A ship for a ship. We are even."
GOLIATH: "No. We are friends."
RENARD: [laugh] Yes. Friends.

And then the tag! I knew Fox was the "Hang-gliding ninja" and that she was Renard's daughter by now. AND that she was pregnant. But I still enjoyed this tag. I really liked the discussion between father and daughter, and the way the revelations were handled. A very fun ep.

Another digression: When I showed this ep to my mother, she instantly recognized the voices of both Peter Scolari, and Robert Culp. Anyway, I thought they did great jobs, and I still love the little nuances Culp managed to invest in Renard.

Hopefully, I'll catch up with your rambles by tomorrow.

Greg responds...

I hope so. Cuz I like your rambles too.

Yeah, Peter and Robert were terrific.

And I'm glad the Fox stuff worked for you. It's a strange little episode, but it's also got some pretty revolutionary stuff in it. Kind of insidious that way.

Anyway, I'm fond of it.

Response recorded on June 21, 2001

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Yttrium writes...

Can you tell us of any particularly amusing/interesting garg reference in either MAX STEEL or 3X3 EYES?
Thanks.

---Ytt

Greg responds...

I can't think of any in max.

There are quite a few in 3x3, including the use of a lot of garg voice talent. For example, Keith David plays a cop and uses his Morgan voice. He also plays a much more startling character. It's a hoot.

There's a homeless guy who hums the gargoyle theme song. I did that voice.

Someone says, "What could be strong enough to leave claw marks in solid stone?"

And so on...

Nothing that didn't TOTALLY fit the context. We didn't want to abuse 3x3 for the sake of Gargoyles. But where it fit, it fit.

Response recorded on June 21, 2001

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Demona Taina writes...

This is another stupid question.. but you've said before that when one of your voice actors had a busy schedule that he/she could not get out of, you simply got another actor to play the part, like what happened with Maria Chavez and Margot Yale. What happened when one of the main characters' voices was unavailable? (Keith David, Thom Adcox, Marina Sirtis..) Did you postpone the recording session or something?

Thanks!

Greg responds...

We postponed recording them. We'd record the other actors and get Keith or whomever when we could. It wasn't usually too long a wait.

Response recorded on June 19, 2001


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