Scully & Mulder untangled the UFO phenomenon
The X Files and
Delivered at the
Fortean Unconvention, London, April 2002
The latter part of the 1990s
could go down into history as the X Generation. The popularity of the
X Files created an interest in everything starting with the letter X.
In the world of computers, old ideas were repackaged by making the new
acronyms start with X, such as XML, which actually stands for extensible…
and which therefore does not start with an X. In Pop Idol, the judges
were searching for the “X Factor”. Most recently, Microsoft
launched its Xbox. This popularity of the letter X offset the balance
against the link with that other strange phenomenon, that of the “Ex-partner”.
The series re-defined the role of UFO-research and gave it a sense of
respect, as in the world of televised science-fiction, UFOs had reached
the level of being officially researched. Suddenly, discussions on these
topics could be held because of the popularity of the series. Everyone
wanted a piece of the “X-attraction”.
the concept behind the X Files?
X Files is a mixture of various “strange files” (what we
would call Fortean) and UFO-material. Strange cases, apart from interesting
naming conventions such as Heuvelmans lake, never really seemed to develop
or progress, unlike the central line of thinking on UFOs and a government
The strange files-scenario seems nothing new and based on Twin Peaks,
with its bizarre FBI Agent trying to answer the question not of his
sister’s abduction, but of who killed Laura Palmer. The character
of Scully is based on that of Clarice Starling from Silence of the Lambs.
On the viewing public, and
particularly the UFO community, perspectives changed. All those previously
hiding in their own homes thinking they were harassed, suddenly spoke
out. The big government conspiracy proposed by various researchers was
visualised by the struggle of Fox Mulder. All UFO-researchers seemed
able to identify with him. Magazines, such as Fortean Times, UFO Magazine,
both here and in the US, all were suddenly propelled to a large national
forum, followed by the late publications of Encounters, Quest and Uri
Underneath this layer, however,
lies an unresearched area, which is the most interesting, though never
accentuated realisation: the methods, ideas and opinions of the script
writers of the X Files, and the manner in which their opinions and ideas
filtered through into the series. Alistair Moffat said in a conference
last week how it is not reading that is learning, but writing. By writing,
the mind gets confronted with so many aspects, it has to make a logical
conclusion. And the same can be said of the writers of the X Files,
though I would add that on some occasions, they deliberately did not
add a logical ending to the episode.
That road is travelled by
the script writers, can be broken down into three distinct stages.
acceptance that UFOs are extra-terrestrial and the search to uncover
evidence to prove this
Originally, the question
that was asked was an endeavour to answer “who is out there?”
and “does ET exist?”
In the Pilot episode, Mulder’s
car stalls when a UFO flies over it. There is a 9 minute time loss experienced
by Mulder and Scully and our researchers come into contact with nasal
implants – a theme later fully developed in Abduction, with Duane
Barry’s implant, as well as Scully’s implant.
Later on, in The Unopened
Files, the first of the video releases, the task of Mulder is to safeguard
and decode the official MJ (12)-documents, taken from a Department of
Defence computer by a hacker, “The Thinker”, one Kenneth
It leads Mulder to uncover a conspiracy dating back to the end of the
2nd World War, involving Nazi scientists, in which humans have been
catalogued during small-pox injections. The alleged purpose of this
project is to create a human-alien hybrid.
Standard practices include
the mentioning of the reality of the Roswell crash, as well as Scully’s
role in debunking the X Files. The X Files take the existing pot of
UFO mythology “as is”, and create their episodes based on
existing “pro-UFOlogy” publications.
In the early 1990s, this was a key to success and good television and
movies, with Stargate and Independence Day being two other examples.
One intriguing confrontation in the series is when Mulder is confronted
by an MJ-member, and he accepts “the conspiracy”, whereas
Scully tells Mulder “this man is telling you what you want to
hear”. It, however, falls on deaf men’s ears.
The series is an
overview of several “classic cases”, of which I will list
the most intriguing.
- the story of how aliens and humans are interacting with each other,
with a potent government cover-up in place to suppress the truth. This
cover-up is kept in place by mysterious Men In Black, who seldom make
their suit look good, but do smoke an extra-ordinary amount of cigarettes.
- In Colony, we further learn how Mulder believes that there is other
intelligent life which is living amongst us, and that they are here
to colonise us.
- This rides high on the theory made popular in the early 1990s, labelled
the MJ 12 papers. It was John Lear who stated that the US government
had signed a treaty with an extraterrestrial race, who had a “colony”
here at a base called Dulce, in New Mexico. Lear stated that in exchange
for technology, the aliens were allowed to abduct humans in order to
create hybrid human-alien offspring.
- the central abduction is the abduction of Mulder’s sister Samantha.
Unlike the normal “abduction memory”, here it is the witness,
Fox, who undergoes regression therapy to uncover the memories surrounding
the abductions – which have left his sister permanently missing.
- Another abduction is that of Duane Barry, a strange person, who, with
talk of implants, is the classic “UFO abductee”. Implants
include the nose, abdomen, as well as holes in his teeth. Later, we
will find that implants become more and more pronounced, including one
with Dana Scully, detected during a metal detector when entering the
FBI. Duane Barry also has memories of “joined abductions”,
with both aliens and the military abducting people together. We are
in season 2, and it is obvious the writers have been reading advanced
abduction accounts, where such stories appear.
- During one meeting, the Well-manicured man informs Mulder an alien
crash occurred and an alien was recovered. He, as well as some others
linked to MJ12, have had the unfortunate task of assassinating an alien
Area 51 myth
- One aspect is that of the Black triangles, made infamous in 1989 with
the Belgian UFO sightings. This suggests that the Air Force is using
“UFOs”, i.e. advanced technology. One case involves the
disappearance of a pilot who flew these, who is then brainwashed and
- Much later, in Dreamland, we meet an Area 51 security guard. In a
strange body-swap between him and Mulder, we find that experiments with
anti-gravity have gone wrong, resulting in time warps and body-soul
swaps. The incident is similar to the strange stories of the Montauk
base, in New York, where stories of the Philadelphia Experiment have
been pushed one step further into urban mythology, by such notables
as Ed Cameron and others. It is also in this episode that one of the
biggest discoveries is made: Mulder’s apartment actually does
have a bedroom.
In the third season, Mulder buys a video of an apparent alien autopsy,
performed by Japanese scientists in a train carriage. Mulder says the
footage is “so obviously fake”. The inspiration for this
episode is clear: the 1995 appearance of the Santilli footage. We note
how a copy of that alien was later sent to the offices of Fortean Times.
It is in this episode that
fiction and reality mingle even more when MUFON members appear, being
largely a group of abductees getting together.
The large telescope of Arecibo, which also received attention in the
movie Contact, had been successful in picking up extraterrestrial signals.
Mulder finds the message, as well as little grey men, but he also finds
a troop of Blue Berets who make sure the truth is, once again, buried.
This and other similar events underline how a one man’s struggle
for the truth (identified by the research potential of the FBI, which
“opens doors”) will always be outmatched by the government,
or an organised, attempt to maintain the status quo. The most extra-ordinary
aspect of the success of the X Files must have been that the creators
were able to maintain this same stand off for nine years.
The Face on
In the first season, in Space, an astronaut also becomes haunted by
the Face on Mars, almost becoming possessed by the “ghost of the
Face on Mars”.
“The failure of the Hubble Telescope and the Mars Observer are
directly connected to a conspiracy to deny us evidence” says Mulder,
pointing out that the evidence is evidence of alien civilisations.
there are other intriguing notes: UFOs are shot down over Iraq
and transported. In this episode, Scully tells Mulder that the
truth is out there, but so are lies, to which Deep Throat adds
that a lie is most convincingly buried between two truths. “If
the shark stops swimming, it will die. Don’t stop swimming.”
The idea is that Mulder needs to continue digging and he will
eventually end up with the truth. Perseverance, rather than cleverness
or common sense, are therefore the drivers that are being identified
as “vital” for Mulder’s success. Unfortunately,
there is no time to analyse the series from a dualistic perspective.
But here is one question: did Deep Throat believe that eventually
some of Mulder’s evidence would break through the crack
and constitute proof? Or was he himself a member of the cover-up,
fully aware that Mulder’s continued going over the same
steps would always result in the opposition’s easy removal
of his evidence?
does not believe everything. Mulder states he believes the Gulf
Breeze photos are fakes – reflecting the common accepted
knowledge of the UFO community. This “level-headedness”
is however offset with the statement “I Want To Believe”,
the famous poster in his office. This poster depicts a photograph
taken by Billy Meier, a Swiss farmer who claimed contact with
emissaries of a Pleiadian civilisation. Meier is the standard
image of the contactee who accepts everything without question
and promotes a clear, though “silly” message of ET
Phase 1 is therefore
best summed us as “I want to believe”. Then came Phase 2…
2: the realisation that the UFO phenomenon is a mirror, if not a smokescreen.
The aliens are non-existent and are in fact a diversion to hide illegal,
“black budget” crimes.
Area 51 is now taking on
its true form: exempt from any law, hence allowed to be the staging
ground of anything that is most likely completely illegal, but its slate
wiped clean by the president himself. Area 51 is the location where
they want to bury far worse things than dead alien bodies.
The preview of this scenario
appears halfway in the third season, with Jose Chings’ From Outer
Space, written by Darin Morgan, who would soon disappear from the list
of authors, but whose ideas did influence Chris Carter.
In this episode, Scully writes
about one of her cases to a novelist, whereas Mulder is unwilling to
help her. Scully relates an abduction account where the witness remembers
the alien smoking a cigarette – leading to some UFO material that
went on sale with aliens smoking. Some of this material, I believe,
was available through the pages of Fortean Times, particularly in the
form of CD racks.
Under hypnosis, she remembers the aliens were really USAF personnel
dressed as aliens, including the cigarette smoker, as well as a “dead
The pilot tells Mulder that the UFO myth was created, so that the truth,
the testing of new planes, remains hidden. The myth was built to make
sure those planes were not shot down. Who wants to shoot a mystery,
or a cosmic neighbour?
Don Ecker in the February
2002 issue on the death of Bill Cooper stated how The X Files seemed
to have borrowed this thinking from Cooper. Cooper, after promoting
MJ12, then stated that the UFO phenomenon was simply disinformation
put out by the New World Order. But nothing is ever as simple as that.
In Dreamland, later on in the series, we see how a top secret “Area
51” security guard manager mentions how The Lone Gunmen have been
used by him and his colleagues to “leak” planted stories,
which make the government look bad, seem to expose a big lie, but in
the end are carefully planted tactics by the government to guarantee
it is portrayed, though negatively, in the manner it wishes. It is literally
making one look at one hand, while doing all the dirty tricks with the
other hand, where no-one is watching.
Though true, the message
carried by The X Files was much more detailed, much more profound. Whereas
during the first seasons it was clear that the writers were borrowing
their material, and adapting it, it was now clear Chris Carter had had
an insight – one he wanted to share with the world. Rather than
“just another episode”, the X Files were about to enter
on a dramatic new path.
This new path happened with
the switch from Season 4 to 5, with the episodes Gethsemane and Redux,
in 1997. First, the episodes were written by Chris Carter himself. Normally,
the title sequence reads: “the truth is out there.” These
episodes carried different warnings: “Believe the lie” and
“All lies lead to the truth”. The normally honest Scully
now lies, lying about the “death” of Fox Mulder. At the
same time, she reports about the “illegitimacy of Mulder’s
work. He became a victim of false hopes and in the biggest of lies.”
She becomes convinced of this because of a whistleblower: Michael Kritschgau.
He states that the whole concept of alien life is conceived by the Department
of Defense to distract the public attention from genuine issues. It
is created to have people, UFO researchers, running around in circles,
never getting to the bottom of things, never able to find the answers.
UFOs are in fact USAF secret aircraft, abductions are staged (including
In this scenario, the discovery
of an alien being (also used in a script for the series Jonathan Creek),
the classic technique is explained:
- create a fake
- dangle it in front of everyone
- take it away before scientific testing has been done
- This will leave everyone guessing, creating two camps that will debate
the potential veracity of the case forever.
Or to quote Scully: “a scientific sleigh of hand calculated to
perpetuate false truths for a bigger lie.”
“sleigh of hand” is in the creation of an alien body. Here,
we have a variation on a theme, whereby the Santilli tape would have
in essence been taken one step further – but it seems that reality
is not yet as strange as the X Files; no-one to my knowledge has ever
claimed to have captured an alien body.
Note here that there is no mention of the “New World Order”.
In Bill Cooper, the UFO phenomenon served a purpose – to promote
the agenda of the New World Order. In The X Files, they are just a clever,
self-serving distraction, to detract from serious issues, like secret
aircraft. They do not, as Cooper stated, serve a political goal. At
least not when reading what the characters say…
The idea that the abduction
of Samantha Mulder was staged to make Mulder believe has an interesting
twist, particularly in light of the introduction of Marita Covarrubias
in the episodes. She is working for the United Nations, an organisation
not particularly linked with UFOs, except for one incident.
In 1989, according to Budd
Hopkins, Linda Napolitano, aka Cortile, was abducted in the vicinity
of Brooklyn Bridge. The abductors were grey aliens, who performed this
task apparently in the presence of then UN Secretary General Javier
Perez de Cuellar. Without going into details, the conclusion of this
episode is that it is a most perplexing case. One conclusion that can
be drawn from the available evidence – one which I myself underwrite
– is that the entire event was possibly indeed a clever exercise
in trying to convince influential people – like the UN Secretary
General. An exercise, based upon the material as presented by Hopkins,
which seems to have succeeded. But de Cuellar never went public with
his belief – and it is precisely this “going public”
that “they” are trying to make Mulder do, Kritschgau tells
Kritschgau says Scully has
been given cancer to make Mulder convinced aliens are real and are responsible
for it. This is the concept that the appearance of crop circles somehow
adds reality to another unexplained phenomenon. I.e. a new unexplained
event confirms that the first is indeed a genuine mystery – something
which is bad science, but by arguing crop circles are alien artefacts,
does it not mean more people would accept it? Going round the circles
of Wiltshire, the answer is a yes.
Mulder, with his poster saying
he wants to believe, concludes: “I refuse to believe that it’s
not true.” Scully adds: “because it’s easier to believe
the lie.” Carter refers in the title Gethsemane to Jesus, as it
is there that Jesus doubted about his own quest. If it is a lie, Mulder
realises he has worked in vain, suffered in vain. All for a lie. And
hence it is here that he contemplates suicide, for he has his moment
of greatest doubt.
It might seem that here,
the writers left all contact with the real UFO world behind. After all,
the concept that UFOs are disinformation is not widely known. But this
is largely public perception. Within UFO circles, it actually has quite
profound backing. Jacques Vallee has hinted in several of his publication
that certain UFO incidents are staged, in an effort of psychological
and sociological warfare. Leon Davidson, who worked for Los Alamos Scientific
Laboratory in 1949, has written various publications, all self-produced
and published, showing undeniable evidence that a large percentage of
the UFO-phenomenon is deliberate disinformation. He saw classified reports
on UFOs that made him convinced of this.
“I was invited to the Pentagon in Nov. 1952 to meet Col. W.A.
Adams and Maj. Dewey J.J. Fournet for discussion of my contention that
saucers, if real, were American. I presented a four-page list of questions,
the answers to which proved to me that the A.F. “investigation”
of saucers was completely a cover-up for something else.”
Bill Moore, co-author with
Charles Berlitz of the first popular book on Roswell and the Philadelphia
Experiment, confirmed at a UFO conference, days before he would otherwise
be confronted with the allegation, of having provided disinformation
to certain UFO-researchers and the public at large, apparently in an
effort to get “to the truth”. His disinformation tactic
would allegedly result in the government giving him insight into “the
big secret”. In the end, it seems this was not the case. Another
person, Bruce Maccabee, also confirmed having a more than dubious agenda.
And it should be interesting to point out that in certain cases, such
as Gulf Breeze, these people “fuelled” the debate, by keeping
the controversy alive – and hence the UFO myth.
Kritschgau was no figment of the imagination of Chris Carter: he was
a careful mixture of various UFO researchers and their definitive, though
publicly often forgotten role, in disinformation, in an effort to promote
the UFO myth.
in the end for? To make Muldder go public. This will bring the entire
phenomenon in a more “believable” framework. Intriguingly,
in the fact that truth is stranger than fiction, this would in fact
happen to Nick Pope, who would go public and would become branded as
the real life Fox Mulder. Nick Pope is a believer, if not in all cases,
then at least in the fact that a core of it is unexplained, if not extraterrestrial.
One can only wonder whether therefore somehow he might have been coerced,
in Mulder fashion, “to go public”. Perhaps even the series
was the trigger for such a decision. If that was the case, it would
be how fiction might give rise to actions in the real world…
In the series itself,
the answer is given as to WHY the phenomenon was created. It was to
deflect attention away from the bigger picture, which is “the
bomb”. At the same time, however, the emphasis is also on the
arrival of Nazi scientists arriving in the US and how this somehow ties
in with cloning experiments and biogenetic research, some of it apparently
started during World War II in the Nazi concentration camps.
It is intriguing that in Roswell and in Wright Patterson, where the
ET craft was allegedly taken, both trends come together. The first housed
the first nuclear attack strike force, whereas in the other, Nazi scientists
had been lodged.
Finally, they frame the entire material in the framework of an American
nation eager for bogus revelations. One can only wonder whether The
Sun or News of the World does not feed directly into this story.
A bit of everything, but nothing completely
At end of season
5, in late summer 1998, the X Files reached their climax: a movie. It
also signalled the demise of the series. However, first of all, the
writers were able to present a mirror and smokescreen of trying to persuade
the viewer that Mulder and co. were finally moving rapidly to a full
understanding and revelation of the ultimate truth, which seemed to
involve the existence of aliens in cahoots with the government after
all – though not as we suspected before.
In the movie, there is a
radical break. It brings the X Files Conspiracy very close to this home
[Commonwealth Institute, Kensington, London]: we see MJ12 convening
in a house near The Albert Hall, whereas the Well-Manicured Man is identified
as living in the English countryside.
MJ12 had to have it both ways: they are in league with the aliens, shielding
their existence from preying human eyes. But: they always believed the
aliens would take over, but would be more or less benign, with MJ12
being the human leaders of the New Alien World Order.
In the movie, they learn that this is not the case: the aliens are dangerous
predators, and the other aspect of their secret mission comes to the
surface: to test out a vaccine, which would make humans invulnerable
to “the black oil”. Later, we find that there is indeed
such a group of Resistance fighters, who have removed their eyes so
that the black oil cannot take effect.
It was at this stage that
the audiences dropped. Whereas Phase 1 had also seen a tremendous increase
in UFO books, and the creation of Nick Pope, as of Phase 3, and ever
more recently over the past few years, UFO books have disappeared from
the booksellers’ bookshelves. The opening made in Phase 2 could
have lead to a series finale, but it was clear that this would be a
very quick end – and perhaps not all that satisfying. It seems
that the show had to go on, and hence the path of disinformation had
to be left. A return to phase 1 was impossible, hence a bit of everything,
but nothing in general was what typified the rest of the series.
In The X Files,
as a result, a strange mixture of “government disinformation”
and “aliens do exist” was brewed, with screen writers wetting
their own interest by moving into the direction of clones, with Nazi
overtones on what lies at the origin of the UFO legend. The X Files
continues to dangle in phase 3, with no obvious way out. It is also
the state of UFOlogy in general: too much facets, but little tangible
holds to break through the pat position.
series, for the viewing public, did have some interesting episodes.
I particularly like The Sixth Extinction.
In this episode, we see how archetypes become ever more to the surface:
Mulder as the crucified Jesus. Whereas Mulder had often been portrayed
as someone who suffered for everyone in the world, and suffered tremendously
in his quest for the truth, that identification became more pronounced
in these episodes. The archetype of the love of Mulder and Scully, based
on the new archetype of the possible love between Jesus and Mary Magdalene,
is another clear example. If we are to identify Mulder with Osiris,
and Scully with Isis, then her child is Horus… and it just “happens”
to be the case that Scully’s case is believed to possess extra-ordinary
powers, powers that might transform the world one day.
In the end, even Fox Mulder
seemed to lose interest; David Duchovny realised that he was losing
his battle with the series and needed to diversify his acting career.
Other “spoofs”, such Millennium, had already been stopped,
and another spoof, The Lone Gunmen, has most likely died a premature
death, judging from the pages of the Fortean Times, which stated that
its pilot came up with a pilot that almost word for word mimicked the
scenario of the September 11 bombing.
The series might not have
had The Godfather or Darth Vader, but it did have the Cigarette Smoking
Man, and a series of quotes, some of which might live to see a future:
“Secrets push their
way through deception so Man can know.” – Albert Hosteen,
But above all: