The New X-Files: A Wet Dream for Conspiracy Theorists?

TheX-Files-ConspiracyTheoristWetDream
Published February 6th 2016 | Tags: , , ,

The third episode of the new X-Files Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster – is a comic departure from the storyline laid down in the opening two instalments.  It also offers sympathy and encouragement to the conspiracy theorists who are no doubt watching the show.

Mulder’s Ennui

Our story begins with two stoners wandering around the forest at night and accidentally discover a man-like beast attacking two people.  This basic notion – of being high while vaguely meandering around and happening upon something of critical importance – represents the real lives of many conspiracy theorists.  While the two stoners are portrayed as idiots it is their discovery that sparks off the attempt by FBI agents Mulder and Scully to find the truth.  This ‘monster of the week’ format was a speciality of the original series of The X-Files but this reboot is clearly telling the conspiracy culture what it wants to hear – that it is important and that its ‘discoveries’ are important.

TheX-Files-stonersfindmonsterThe world’s least convincing lizard man?

Perhaps because of the monster wearing a ludicrously unconvincing Halloween costume, even when he runs straight past the stoners one of them turns to the other and asks ‘did that really happen?’.  This condition of hyperreality – the inability to distinguish reality from the virtual – is a very real problem in the conspiracy movement.  People deny what is right in front of them, preferring instead to construct rival narratives of events based purely on imagination and half-remembered scenes from movies.  Whether Chris Carter et al are mocking the conspiracy culture or playing up to it (or both simultaneously) is not clear because the whole episode has a very whimsical tone.

However, before he hears about this exciting new monster that he has to rush out and investigate, Mulder is shown suffering from ennui and general hopelessness.  He berates Scully with tales of how almost all of the ‘paranormal phenomena’ they had previously investigated has since been shown to be very normal.  He uses the UFO/I Want To Believe poster as a dartboard and explains how:

TheX-Files-Mulderflippingphotos
“It’s amazing going through these archives with fresh, if not wiser, eyes how many of these cases can be explained away as fraternity pranks, practical jokes or people making stuff up simply because they are bored and/or crazy…”

While the conspiracy culture is maturing very slowly, and large parts of it are regressing (e.g. the 9/11 truth movement endorsing Donald Trump) some parts of it are maturing.  Many of the things I believed or considered to be important 10 years ago I no longer feel that strongly about.  Some of them I don’t care about at all, and a few I even think I was a sucker for ever believing in or caring about in the first place.  For all people who grow up (a bit) and move on (a bit) this is what we inevitably experience, whether we’re talking about conspiracy culture or any other childish fascination.  This entire scene with Mulder, complete with references to renowned paranormal researcher Charles Fort, speaks to the people wondering whether it has all been worth the effort, or whether it was always just a form of escapism.

Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Pull Me Back In

These doubts are all swept to one side when Mulder hears about the weird lizard-man monster terrorising a small town somewhere in somewheresville.  He and Scully rush to the scene and meet a variety of witnesses, from a transsexual prostitute to the guy who plays Dinesh in Silicon Valley.  A string of quite funny but largely irrelevant sequences follow, including Scully saying she had forgotten how much fun these cases were.

Mulder finally catches up with the monster (in human form) in a graveyard, who then tells him an absurd tale of his origins that is half-true and half-lie, and so ludicrous that Mulder struggles to believe it.  Most entertaining are the monster’s commentaries on human beings as being obsessed with working and borrowing money and bragging about their sex lives.  The monster even invents a twist to his story where he has sex with Scully, which Mulder immediately refutes, leading the monster to say he couldn’t help but fabricate the story because this is simply what humans do.

X-Files-ScullysexsceneThe XXX-Files?

Due to the monster’s propensity for lying and the generally absurd nature of his story of transforming from lizard to man back to lizard, Mulder does not believe him or take him seriously.  The murders are all conveniently pinned on Dinesh from Silicon Valley (if in doubt, blame the Pakistani) and the authorities are happy.  But then Mulder meets up with the monster out in the forest where the episode began, and the lizard-man finally reveals to Mulder that he is who he says he is.  And so, an episode that opened with Mulder on the verge of turning his back on paranormal investigations ends with him shaking hands with a lizard-man before it scampers off into the shrubbery to hibernate for 10,000 years.

X-Files-Mulderandthelizard-manI wouldn’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been

As such, Mulder is given absolute proof just as he was having his moment of doubt of pain, but it’s the kind of proof that he can’t show to anyone else.  To recap:

– Stoners make the initial discovery

– Mulder is initially sceptical and disinterested but is quickly drawn back in

– Even Scully reminds us of how much fun these things can be

– The monster lies almost continuously, but his story is ultimately true and his lies are forgiveable – such as fantasising about having steamy store-room sex with Dana Scully

– By the end Mulder is sure of the truth, but he can’t share that sense of certainty with others

What else is this episode except a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream, and a reaffirmation that they are important and on the right track?  What else is it apart from a confessional which forgives conspiracy theorists for their lies and fabrications and fantasies?  What else is it but a form of therapy, that sympathises with the conspiracy theorist’s doubt and sense of futility and then reminds them of how fun and sexy these questions are?  What else is it but a well-timed bit of encouragement that says ‘we know you aren’t sure sometimes, and often can’t convince other people, but as long as you think you’re right then that is all that matters’?

The CIA and The X-Files

In my prior article on The X-Files I suggested that NASA are conspicuous by their absence from the show and thus should be among the prime suspects for government agencies that had assisted the show.  However, we should not rule out the CIA.  Two connections – one tangential and one substantial – are suggestive of them having an interest in this 10th season.

In the opening episode we are introduced to Sveta, a supposed abductee who Mulder becomes convinced is ‘the key’ to unravelling the mystery of the supergiant UFO conspiracy.  Before Mulder can use her to unlock the doors of truth, however, she is silenced in spectacular fashion by a Pentagon-developed spacecraft in a scene reminiscent of Independence Day:

X-Files-SvetakilledbyUFODrivers are urged to be cautious

Sveta is played by Annet Mahendru, who also plays top spy totty Nina Krilova in The Americans, a show written by former CIA agent Joe Weisberg and where every script is vetted and approved (or not) by the CIA before it is filmed and broadcast.  Some would say this is a coincidence but given the broadly similar themes in The Americans and The X-Files and given that Mahendru’s biggest and most prominent role to date is her part in The Americans it is likely that show is where the makers of The X-Files saw her.

The much more substantial connection is that the CIA have been helping to promote the new season of The X-Files, in not too dissimilar fashion to how they have promoted Argo and Homeland (both CIA-assisted) in the past.

CIA-Twitter-promotingHomelandandArgoSometimes these twitter promotions don’t go quite to plan…

A couple of days before the new season of The X-Files premiered the CIA published an article on their blog ‘Take a Peek into our X-Files‘ which is potentially quite a saucy title.  In reality it is 10 documents, the ‘Top 5 CIA Documents Mulder Would Love To Get His Hands On’ and the same for Scully.  Bizarrely, many outlets including major newspapers have reported this as a new release of documents, when in reality these and hundreds if not thousands of other files have been available on the CIA’s site for years.

What neither the CIA nor the media coverage highlight is things like the 1950s Robertson Panel which recommended using Disney cartoons as a conduit for propaganda that would strip UFOs of their ‘aura of mystery’.  Given that The X-Files more than any other TV show has stripped the aura of mystery from UFOs and made them seem as real and true as Scully’s facelift one has to wonder if the CIA are involved.

I will be providing more commentary on The X-Files in the coming weeks so stay tuned.

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