High Strangeness: The X-Factor

Friday, August 28, 2015

The X-Factor

As I've mentioned here before, my wife and I have been watching "The X-Files" for the first time and really enjoying it. I didn't much get into the show during its initial run starting in the early '90s, for reasons that now escape me... I think at the time I just didn't buy the "Mulder: Believer/Scully: Skeptic" dynamic. It seemed too pat, too easy, too devoid of subtlety.

Now, however, I can appreciate it on a new and unexpected level. It still defies belief that in so many of the episodes Scully refuses to acknowledge the weirdness that is staring her in the face while Mulder insists on finding a paranormal explanation for everything... But now, some 20 years later, I can recognize and appreciate where the writers and actors were having fun with the dynamic, bending it this way and that, exploring its limits, letting the characters make self-referential jokes about it... It mostly works, and--surprise--it's mostly fun!

And, besides... Flukeman! How can you not love the TV show that unleashed Flukeman on the world?

Why did Flukeman never get his own spin-off series?
The real revelation, however, has been to see what an interesting role The X-Files has played in both and validating so many pernicious UFO myths about government cover-ups, the Roswell saucer crash, alien abductions, Disclosure, etc... If there's an intriguing UFO myth out there, no matter how questionable the origins, chances are an X-Files writer has used it as the basis for a script. And why not? They're all fun stories, even if they can be picked apart by a 5 year-old.

But by exploiting these stories to build up the show's internal mythology, the writers and producers of the show unintentionally strengthened the hold these stories have on the racial subconscious. I mean, during its initial run this show was bringing in 20 or 30 million viewers each week; if even one percent of those viewers were convinced by Special Agent Mulder that a spaceship really did crash in Roswell, that's a hell of a lot of new believers... Never mind that their belief is based on a fictional TV show, if Mulder is able to get Scully to admit that even one tiny, tiny, miniscule part of the story could be true, well then there must be something to it.

Or maybe it was intentional, who knows? All I know for sure is that it is fascinating to explore the pretty damn amazing role this show has played in simultaneously exploiting and constructing so much of our UFO and alien mythology....

And, besides... Flukeman!

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