Agent Dana Scully entered Fox Mulder’s FBI office in the series première of The X-Files many years ago. The shoulder-padded skirt – suit Scully wore in the pilot may appear dated now, but the show went on to revolutionize television and how viewers interact with their favorite programs.
This article will give information on the cultural motifs that the X-Files spawned — eerie phenomena that still permeate popular culture:
Discover the X – Files
The X-Files, American science-fiction television series broadcast by Fox Broadcasting Company (1993–2002, 2016–2018). The show garnered three Golden Globes for best drama and attracted a massive cult following.
The X-Files centered on the professional lives of two FBI special agents, Fox Mulder (played by David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson), who investigate peculiar and unsolved cases involving supernatural or paranormal elements. Some of these cases advanced the mythological arc of the series and brought the investigative tandem closer to exposing a vast government conspiracy regarding the existence of extraterrestrials. The series began with the believer Mulder attempting to convince his skeptic companion of the possibility of paranormal occurrences.
In addition, to advancing the central conspiracy theory, the series also brought the Scully-Mulder relationship closer to a romantic one, although their precise feelings for each other were frequently as obscured as their investigations. The majority of episodes on The X-Files were independent mysteries whose resolutions had no impact on the mythic story arc, despite the show’s overarching conspiracy plot. In the show’s concluding seasons, Mulder was relegated to a supporting role, while Scully became the primary protagonist, working alongside new characters.
Impact of X – files on Popular Culture
The X-Files is a television series produced by 20th Century Fox Television. At the time of its release, the popular culture of the 1990s was diametrically opposed to the ‘cult’-labeled program, favoring sitcoms such as Walker, Texas Ranger and Sea Quest DSV. During a time when women were not expected to have larger responsibilities in filmmaking and other industry jobs, Gillian Anderson’s performance as Scully changed this perception. As the show’s popularity grew both on and off-screen, her character’s influence spread to other series and films that also featured more dominant female characters.
The mythology, also known as the mytharc, is the story developed through Mulder and Scully’s investigations to disclose a global conspiracy in which the Syndicate, a shadow government organization, is attempting to suppress knowledge of the existence of extraterrestrials with colonization plans for Earth. The mytharc of The X-Files established a precedent for episodic mysteries that were subsequently created and debuted, while popularizing the overarching theme of standalone episodes. This influence is evident in television series like Fringe and Supernatural. It also paved the way for science fiction films such as Signs, Arrival, Nope, and countless others.
Without The X-Files, there would be no Better Call Saul or Breaking Bad. Vince Gilligan is arguably the most well-known of the numerous X-Files writers who moved on to write for other films and television shows. Before he moved on to create and write TV shows, he was a Hollywood rookie writer who contributed to The X-Files. Without the program, Vince may not have received as much recognition, and neither Better Call Saul nor Breaking Bad would exist.
Dana Scully was undeniably a groundbreaking television character, but her influence extended far beyond the small screen. She was not only intelligent, but also a physician, a scientist, and an FBI agent. She was self-assured and did not suit the damsel in distress archetype. She rescued her companion countless times and was always composed when she or others were in peril. 21st Century Fox, the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and J. Walter Thompson Intelligence have demonstrated that the ‘Scully effect’ is, in fact, a genuine phenomenon.
X – Files Prepared the Way for Current Trends in Television Shows
Today, online fan communities are potent enough to dictate Hollywood decisions. In 1993, when X-Files debuted, the internet was still a novelty. The X-Files was the first television program of the 1990s to have a devoted online fan community.
After the popularity of early Internet acronyms such as LOL and BRB, X-Philes, as they were known, created their own abbreviations: XF for X-Files, GA for Gillian Anderson, DD for David Duchovny, CC for series creator Chris Carter, and CSM for Cigarette Smoking Man. Fans shared theories, artwork, and, of course, fanfiction; Gossamer, a website dedicated to archiving all X-Files fanfiction, was one of the earliest fanfiction initiatives with the most comprehensive coverage. With the massive success of the Fifty Shades of Grey series, which was originally a Twilight fanfiction, it is fair to say that fanfiction has entered the mainstream.
Dana Scully, who never failed to remind us that she is a medical doctor and scientist, was the first female scientist many girls had ever seen on television. Gillian Anderson stated at the 2013 New York Comic Con that she has received numerous letters from female admirers who were inspired by Scully to pursue a career in medicine or science, a phenomenon dubbed “the Scully effect.”
Despite the lack of peer-reviewed research on the phenomenon, a survey (commissioned by 21st Century Fox, so to be taken with a grain of salt) discovered that Scully fans are more likely to believe that STEM fields are vital.
Golden Era of Television
Numerous acclaimed writers and producers got their start on X-Files. To mention a few:
A member of the writing staff, Vince Gilligan, went on to create Breaking Bad. In addition to Breaking Bad, director Michelle MacLaren went on to work on Westworld, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. Frank Spotnitz is currently working on Amazon’s Man in the High Castle as a producer. Howard Gordon, who also produced The X-Files, moved on to create 24 and Homeland.
Then there were the numerous actors who had small roles or cameos on the show before achieving fame. Seth Green as a young stoner, Jack Black as an arcade owner, Shia LaBeouf as a sickly child, and Luke Wilson as a small-town sheriff are all portrayed by these actors.
The term “shipping”
Mulder and Scully were the original “ship” — when fans imagine their beloved characters in romantic relationships.
The chemistry between Mulder and Scully was undeniable, and a popular X-Phile acronym used in episode recaps and fanfiction was UST, which stands for Unresolved Sexual Tension. Soon, admirers separated into two groups: relationshippers (shippers) or MSRs (Mulder/Scully Romance) on one side, and no-romancers (noromos) on the other. Now, film and television viewers “ship” characters, such as Harry Potter and Hermione, Captain Kirk and Spock. Even actual people, such as Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio and Tessa Thompson and Janelle Monáe, are shipped.
Undeniably, many X-Fans ship David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson, posting rumors about the two actors and hoping that their on-screen rapport translates to the real world.
Enduring Appeal of X-Files
Since the inception of X-Files, the cultural context of conspiracy theories has evolved. Today, every pseudoscience documentary employs a similar score and plot.
In seasons 10 and 11, the emphasis on the rise of the alt-right, disinformation, and false news seemed like a logical approach to the shifting cultural context the revival entered. Carter and his co-authors plunged headfirst into a new era of government paranoia and public skepticism fueled by the 2008 financial crisis, the aftermath of the war on terror, and numerous political scandals.
Seasons ten and eleven were firmly rooted in the present due to the incorporation of contemporary topics such as surveillance, government abuse of power, and social control techniques.
In the 1990s, The X-Files’ pursuit of truth may have been a philosophical endeavor, but in the 21st century, it is a commentary on how sentiment and belief can be more influential than objective facts.
“The X-Files” had a significant impact on society, popular culture, and the media’s portrayal of science and the supernatural. Its impact will likely be felt for many years to come, as its enduring legacy continues to inspire new generations of viewers and creators.