Scully: Why would somebody want to sabotage the Space Shuttle?
Mulder: Well, if you were a terrorist, there probably isn’t a more potent symbol of American progress and prosperity. And if you’re an opponent of big science, NASA itself represents a vast money trench that exists outside the crucible and debate of the democratic process. — “Space” broadcast date November 3, 1993.
The sci-fi cult classic X-Files turns 20 this week. The show has been off the air for 11 years but its popularity more than persists with a fan base we’re guessing falls squarely into the X-Gen range. And that’s okay. It was a show of a certain zeitgeist, but that zeitgeist is pretty much gone. In no way is that better conveyed than in the above quote by super sleuth Fox “Spooky” Mulder. In our world today — exactly 12 years from the 9/11 attacks — it’s painfully clear that the World Trade Center, not the Space Shuttle, was the potent symbol of prosperity for terrorists, and that the Pentagon was an equally acute expression of American empire — if not, too, a “vast money trench that exists outside the crucible of the democratic process.” It still is.
The show’s solid but underwhelming premiere aired on September 10, 1993, just months after the horrific federal siege and killing of 76 men, women and children at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas. For many of us it was the first witness to the militarization of federal authority (FBI/ATF), and a horrifying peek behind the technicolor curtain so carefully weaved by the New Frontier Baby Boomerism of the Clinton Administration.
Nothing seemed real and the X-Files’ writers were happy to indulge that mistrust and cynicism with a fictional Washington forever machinating against America’s interests, culminating in an alien conspiracy in which the monsters worked directly with powerful bureaucrats to take over the world. When Mulder declared “the truth is out there,” we wanted to believe, too, at least one Sunday night a week.
Continue reading “X-Files: Only for a pre-9/11 World”