Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thoughts on The X-Files

So, I've been re-watching The X-Files, lately, and I'm currently on Season 7.

Does anyone know of any good feminist critique of the series? I have had a lot of thoughts marinating around in my head about it, like:

  • At first it struck me as a gender role reversal that Scully, the female lead, is presented as the rational, science-based skeptic and that Mulder, the male lead, is the more emotional, conspiracy-minded character. However, because The X-Files is based in a universe in which the supernatural is real, it seems like Mulder is right about his theories, and Scully is wrong in her skepticism, most of the time.  Depicting a man having a better grasp on reality compared to his female counterpart is hardly subversive. 
  • Mulder is such a mansplainer. He, unlike Scully, is portrayed as knowing a little bit about nearly every conceivable issue that the two encounter, no matter how obscure and unlikely, because.... ummmm?  I swear that in about 70% of their interactions, Scully is an empty vessel into which Mulder pours his knowledge and theories.  And sure, Scully is often skeptical of his knowledge, but when Mulder is so often correct, Scully ends up seeming stubborn and highly irrational for never believing Mulder despite the fact that he has a 7-year history of so often being right!  Plus, is it kind of a fantasy for many men in these days of the so-called Man Crisis to, for special lucky reasons, still be smarter and more knowledgeable than even very smart, educated women like Dana Scully?  (Or at least to think they are?)
  • Side note, but Mulder's near-omnisciece is similar to my critique of Peter in Fringe, and now that I think about it what kind of doctor is Walter anyway? A medical doctor? A physicist? A chemist? All of the above? I can suspend my disbelief about a lot of things for entertainment purposes, but his science expertise seems both incredibly broad and deep. Like, he seems to have a pretty solid Ph.D-level understanding of space/time travel as well as human anatomy and physiology.
  • Like I said, I'm currently on Season 7. So far, Scully has only spoken to another female character about something other than a man like 5 times ever, and I can't even picture if those conversations have happened devoid of the presence of men. Meanwhile, man-to-man convos happen all the time, and the many men Scully encounters get to be FBI agents, villains, geeks, hackers, mutants, shadow men, and more.  
  • Similarly, I'm pretty sure that more aliens and supernatural entities exist in The X-Files universe than people of color.
  • Male characters are regularly conventionally unattractive (in this lesbian's subjective opinion, I guess) and older, but female characters tend to be conventionally attractive and younger.  I don't mind unattractive characters, but I am irritated by the gender discrepancy.
I guess when the series started (1993), it was a bigger deal to have a female main character who was intelligent, physical, and more than a romantic interest for the male main character.  I guess that's maybe a first level of progress for women. A good next step is having those women have people in their lives who aren't almost solely a variety of white dudes. 

In other news, I've been trying to get into Warehouse 13 and it seems somewhat promising.  Any fans of that show?

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