Some musings on ‘The X-Files,’ old and new
WASHINGTON, January 24, 2016 — Whether in its original or its more recent edition (which debuts tonight, January 24), what makes once and future cult TV series “The X-Files” so believable is the obvious failure of the micro governmental Federal bureaucracy to recover any tangible evidence of the so-called “truth” its primary and intense protagonist insists “is out there.”
FBI special agents Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are government employees, after all.
In a budget battle that would force a government shutdown, real life Washington bean counters would almost certainly shutter “The X-Files’” subterranean office, designate its ineffective gumshoes “nonessential personnel” and promptly furlough the duo – without pay.
The FBI – the real one – was associated with UFOs in the late 1940s. Director J. Edgar Hoover issued an intriguing memo objecting to what he believed was evidence tampering on the part of the U.S. Army Air Force, insisting “upon full access to discs recovered. For instance, in the La. Case the Army grabbed it & wouldn’t let us have it for cursory examination.”
In 1947, the same year a UFO supposedly crashed in the desert outside Roswell, New Mexico, the FBI issued a notice for all its agents to “investigate each instance which is brought to your attention of a sighting of flying discs in order to ascertain whether or not it is a bona fide sighting, an imaginary one or a prank.”
By 1950, all that changed: “The Jurisdiction and responsibility for investigating flying saucers have been assumed by the United States Air Force,” agents were told.
But in the world conjured up by X-Files creator Chris Carter, agents Mulder and Scully have the latitude – within reason – to investigate the bizarre, low-profile cases that inspire their fellow G-Men to raise scornful eyebrows and gossip near the office watercooler and at the annual company Christmas party.
In this idiosyncratic universe, the same government that gave us the absurd, Rube Goldberg contraption called Obamacare is somehow capable of organizing a global conspiracy in association with extraterrestrial colonizers as well as keeping it secret.
Government conspiracies were all the rage as the popular Fox series neared the end of its first run in 2002. In 2000, for example, a Gallup poll found 45 percent of respondents believed the Federal government was too powerful and posed a threat to their freedom.
Today, only the far right feels comfortable voicing such concerns out loud. But when they do so, they are immediately condemned as gun-toting, racist, “anti-government” extremists whose rhetoric can only inspire violence.
Just ask the excitable on-air talent at MSNBC.
“If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges… then we’re going to have some problems here.”
That is what President Obama said shortly after Edward Snowden, a former Federal government cyber-security contractor, revealed that the president authorized the expansion of the National Security Agency’s (NSA’s) surveillance of millions of average Americans under his “Prism” program.
We have since learned of a clandestine government within the U.S. government — one where the U.S. Attorney General secretly requests warrants from a secret court to spy on American journalists talking to government whistleblowers about corruption; where a government supported conspiracy exists between the Justice Department, the Federal Election Commission and the IRS to target and harass Tea Party and conservative organizations for their political opposition to the policies of the Obama administration; and where Obama’s Justice Department organized the sale of 2,000 weapons to Mexico’s deadly Sinaloa drug cartel to help gin up data on illicit gun sales to justify passage of tougher gun-control legislation aimed at law-abiding Americans.
As Scully and Mulder know, the “truth is out there.” But many Americans would rather remain willfully ignorant of real government conspiracies, fretting instead over those involving little green men scampering about on their wide-screen TVs.