As goes The X-Files, so goes our nation?
On Wednesday, at the William S. Paley Television Festival in Los Angeles, X-Files creator Chris Carter premiered the trailer for the show's second cinematic spinoff, due July 25. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Carter, who directed the film and co-wrote the script with Frank Spotnitz, didn't reveal much about the movie's plot or even its title, except that it takes place six years after the last film and that David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson reprise their roles as F.B.I. agents Mulder and Scully. The trailer proved fairly inscrutable as well. The Reporter said it features "snow, running, a large syringe and a helicopter"—all, oddly enough, plot elements that featured in the first X-Files film, which was released in 1998 and is widely known by its working title, Fight the Future.
A bootlegged copy of the new trailer landed on YouTube, but by the time I tried to access it somebody—presumably the studio, 20th Century Fox—had pulled it. Naturally, that only makes me want to see the film even more, though not necessarily for the obvious reasons. Even if you never watched Fight the Future or the original Fox series, which ran from the fall of 1993 to the spring of 2002, you probably know that The-X Files was about two federal agents who investigated paranormal and supernatural occurrences, and that one reason the show was so good was that it did creepy so well. (If you watch just one episode, see "The Host," from the second season, which did for portable toilets and lamprey-like humanoid parasites what Jaws did for the ocean and sharks.) But perhaps the most remarkable thing about the series was that, for all its science fiction and horror trappings, it proved to be eerily prescient in its depiction of government and power. The X-Files was tuned in to America's fascination with conspiracy theories from the start, but as it progressed the producers and writers introduced a story line involving "The Syndicate," a shadow government of wealthy businessmen and furtive governmental figures who really ran things (and were given great, shadowy character names such as "The Cigarette Smoking Man," "The Well-Manicured Man," and even "Deep Throat").
The Syndicate's grand plan turned out to involve the engineering of some sort of alien-human hybrid—at least that’s what I think they were doing. By the end of the series, the storyline had became almost as convoluted and confusing as the plot to Lost. But if you ignore their sillier aspects, The Syndicate and other elements of The-X Files sure seem to pre-figure the kind of secretive, Big Business—influenced governmental dealings that came to pass when the Bush administration took office. I'm thinking "The Smirking Man" Dick Cheney's secret energy task force meetings, for instance, but if you don’t see the parallel, how's this for spooky?: The first X-Files movie depicted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) in a rather nefarious light years before the fallout of Hurricane Katrina. Heckuva job, Carter!
I also find it ironic that The X-Files ended its run in May 2002, just as America was disappearing beneath a tsunami of destructive, wrongheaded Orwellian government practices that made The X-Files' conspiracy theories look quaint. It was as if fiction could no longer compete with reality. But now that Chris Carter and his crew are back, come July 25 I will be watching with my hands masking my eyes, hoping the scary things on screen aren’t portents of what's to come.