I am a huge fan of the “X-Files”. When the news of the revival arrived, I was ecstatic. In anticipation, I signed up for a Facebook fan group and participated in all the chatter about everything, from Scully’s immortality theory, to the color of her hair. When the show finally aired, I resisted the urge to watch it as I was saving the entire series for a binge. Finally, the time was right, and I allowed myself to dive in, but I couldn’t make it past Episode 5. For several days, I allowed hurt feelings to foment in my heart avoiding the urge to unload impulsive comments. Although several days passed, the feelings of betrayal are still vivid. I decided to put it into words.
From the very beginning, something didn’t feel right. The show introduces a conservative talk-show host, a younger and better looking version of Bill O’Riley. If anyone missed the punch line, the character’s name is Tad O’Malley. According to the show, O’Malley is not a full of shit paranoidal political lightweight, but a noble fighter against the government menaces. Check it out!
Here is where it rubbed me wrong. O’Malley’s diatribe recited the talking points of ultra-conservative, gun-loving, federal government- hating, and doom’s-day expecting folks who these days crawled from under their respective rocks to rally for Mr. Donald J. Trump. I had a jarring sensation of being yanked out of the beloved alien sci fi world, into the Fox talk show. Wait, it is a Fox show after all! It felt as if I was forced on a date without my consent. Consent matters! Manipulating audience with partisan propaganda, disguised as sci fi, is disconcerting. What used used to be a harmless paranormal show, now gives a justification for gun-hoarding in anticipation of the government takeover. The impressionable minds really do take the X-Files theories seriously. Check this out:
This is not the worst part of Carter’s manipulative usage of social paranoias for a personal gain. The worst part, in my opinion, is in the 5th Episode. It begins somewhere in Texas with an explicitly Muslim-looking young man praying on an distinctively Muslim red carpet. After finishing his prayer, the guy drives down the city road passing buy two girls in short skirts, and we are led to believe as if the guy feels corrupted with sin. Then, the guy meets another explicitly Muslim looking young man, enters the art gallery, and seconds later, it explodes.
Throughout the whole episode, I hoped to discover that some paranormal force was in action, and the guys had nothing to do with the explosion. Alas, no redeeming quality for the Muslim folks. The episode ends with Mulder, high on magic mushrooms (!), uncovering a group of explicitly Muslim-looking older folks in a hotel, praying before a display of hand-made bombs.
Today we are too close to the issue of Muslim-hating and labeling traditionally looking Muslims as terrorists, but I believe that the history will not look back at it fondly. Today, the international law portrays a hate crime as a combination of two factors: 1) a crime itself (e.g., assault to murder); and 2) a bias motive that directly leads to such a crime (bias motive may be based on any so-called protected category, such as race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability etc.). Additionally, many countries have legislation in place (often in criminal provisions) for public inciting of hatred towards such protected categories.
Certainly, no hate crime is committed in the case of the X-Files stirring Muslim-phobias, but the incitement of hatred was at least alluded. This is the same as if portraying a german as a nazi, or a Russian as a communist, except, in the current social context, it is much worse. A cumulative effect of anti-Muslim propaganda pouring out from all media outlets, may very well cause (and already is causing) serious implication for countless law-obedient Muslims.
Think of it differently. What would you feel if the X-Files pejoratively portrayed an orthodox jew using all the harshest prejudices and stereotypes? Oh, it would not go well with the public. So why is it a fare game to do the same thing with Muslims? We must realize that a lot of Muslim-fearing folks have never met or known a real Muslim in their life. Bias works that way. It makes us fear something or someone impersonal, building upon our phobias and nightmares. I have known devout religious Muslims, as well as secular Muslims. They are no different than the rest of the people. The difference between a terrorist and a not-terrorost is in only one detail: the terrorist breaks the law, and it does not matter which god he prays to, or doesn’t pray at all.
In short, I think Chris Carter sold out to whatever profitable prospects he saw for himself. The irresponsible part on Carter’s side is that over the decades, the show attracted millions of impressionable conspiracy-loving folks. It was all ok, as long as they were led to believe that the government is hiding an alien in the Area 51. But today the world is in agony, society is polarized and looking for someone to blame. The scapegoat of the day is a Muslim. Historically, we scapegoated Jews, Japanese, Native Americans, African Americans and countless other ethnic groups around the world. How can we, in good faith, scapegoat carte blanche all Muslims for the terror attacks when countless snow-flake white, non-Muslim Americans lead statistics in committing public shootings and domestic terror attacks?
In 1920, “Shoeless Joe” Jackson lost faith of one adoring young fan, who with tears in his eyes asked “Say it ain’t so, Joe” as Jackson left the courthouse. Joe Jackson admitted to taking bribes for fixing a baseball game in favor of a rival team. By their nature, fans are faithful and resilient. The X-Files fans forgave the show for letting David Duchovny go, for bringing in other actors who did not blend in well, for erratic plot lines and illogical conclusions. The list goes on. I wonder if Muslim-hating propaganda will be the last drop that destroys fans’ faith. I’ll speak for myself. Today, I am that one fan, who tearfully looks in your eyes and pleads: “Say it ain’t so, Chris Carter.”
By Ellie Maloney