The Problem with the X-Files

The cult of The X-Files has been defended as harmless because it is, after all, only fiction. On the face of it, that is a fair defence. But regularly recurring fiction - soap operas, cop series find the like - are legitimately criticized if, week after week, they systematically present a one-sided view of the world. The X-Files is a television series in which, every week, two FBI agents face a mystery. One of the two, Scully, favours a rational, scientific explanation; the other agent, Mulder, goes for an explanation which either is supernatural or, at very least, glorifies the inexplicable. The problem with The X-Files is that routinely, relentlessly, the supernatural explanation, or at least the Mulder end of the spectrum, usually turns out to be the answer. I'm told that, in recent episodes, even the sceptical agent Scully is starting to have her confidence shaken, and no wonder. But isn't it just harmless fiction, then? No, I think the defence rings hollow. Imagine a television series in which two police officers solve a crime each week. Every week there is one black suspect and one white suspect. One of the two detectives is always biased towards the black suspect, the other biased towards the white. And, week after week, the black suspect turns out to have done it. So, what's wrong with that? After all, it's only fiction! Shocking as it is, I believe the analogy to be a completely fair one. I am not saying that supernaturalist propaganda is as dangerous or unpleasant as racist propaganda. But The X-Files systematically purveys an anti-rational view of the world which, by virtue of its recurrent persistence, is insidious.


Folksonomies: science fiction criticism

/art and entertainment/books and literature/science fiction (0.487410)
/society/crime/property crime/robbery (0.478965)
/hobbies and interests/paranormal phenomena (0.450404)

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Mulder:Person (0.940793 (negative:-0.426172)), Scully:Person (0.927535 (negative:-0.204913)), FBI:Organization (0.584942 (negative:-0.497676))

The X-Files (0.955273): website | dbpedia | freebase | yago
Dana Scully (0.950987): dbpedia | freebase | yago
Fox Mulder (0.922117): dbpedia | freebase | yago
The X-Files: I Want to Believe (0.888794): website | dbpedia | freebase
Spin-off (0.804741): dbpedia | freebase | yago

 Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Dawkins, Richard (2000-04-05), Unweaving the Rainbow: Science, Delusion and the Appetite for Wonder, Mariner Books, Retrieved on 2011-09-21
Folksonomies: evolution science