First Click: The X-files and the age of wholesome conspiracy theories

March 25th, 2015

We've all grown up a lot in the 13 years since The X-files ended. We've grown up both literally — because that's how time works — but also figuratively, becoming more cynical, world-weary, and jaded as media-saturated millennials rise to become the buying class. With the announcement of a new mini-series re-uniting agents Mulder and Scully, can we actually go back to the kind of credulous conspiracy theories that filled the show's nine-year run?

The '90s seem like a simpler time now, where people could still wear dungarees without it being a whole thing and when people's primary concern was whether the president engaged in some extra-marital activities and what time Friends was on. It was a world where governments could be trusted to not only be harboring aliens, but to be actively succeeding in covering their existence up. Where secret information was held by shadowy agents with sore throats in car parks, not by state-sponsored hackers or NSA contractors.

Humans of 2015, on the other hand, have discovered our governments are indeed conspiring against us. Worse — they're really bad at covering their tracks. We have proof they're tapping our phones, we've learned about secret prisons and blacksites, we know flying robots are sent to kill people who never see them coming. We've seen the invention of the dark web, where drugs and lives are traded for imaginary coins, and we've used communication platforms that have been corrupted by harassment campaigns co-ordinated in secret.

The truth was out there, indeed. We found it, it was horrible, and we wish we could put it back. Maybe The X-files, with earnest Fox Mulder, and sceptical-but-encouraging Dana Scully, is the kind of wholesome conspiracy theorizing we need at the moment. A world where aliens are plotting to spook the crap out of some random farmer for fun, or where an ancient man with a stretchy body wakes up every few generations to eat a few livers, or where a family cuts the limbs off their matriarch and locks her in a suitcase. You know, the kind of heartwarming stories we just don't get nowadays.

We'll see how the new X-files pans out when the six-episode series returns to Fox. In this cynical age, at least Netflix offers us the comforts of the past, with near-bottomless '90s sitcom re-runs at our fingertips. The X-files could be the start — the rise of binge watching could see the return of other cherished shows from simpler times.

— Rich McCormick

Five stories to start your day

  1. The X-Files is coming back to television

    As if we needed any more proof that the 1990s are alive and well, The Wrap is reporting that The X-Files will be coming back to Fox as a six-episode limited series. While such a landmark show returning in one form or another is almost expected at this point, the big news is that the entire team is on board: David Duchovny will be returning as Agent Fox Mulder, Gillian Anderson as Agent Dana Scully, and creator and executive producer Chris Carter will be overseeing it all.

  2. RadioShack is selling tens of millions of email and home addresses

    Among the locations, trademarks, overpriced cables, and other assets that RadioShack is selling off as part of its bankruptcy filing are tens of millions of email addresses, home addresses, and customer names, all of which could end up in the hands of another company. As Bloomberg points out, RadioShack's sale includes over 13 million email addresses and over 65 million custom names and physical addresses. That's a lot of personal data! Standard General, RadioShack's largest shareholder, is reported to have won the bid.

  3. This futuristic performance by Japanese trio Perfume will make you lose your mind

    First we see the lights, lasers, and projections from the gig (all real, of course). Then, the camera starts diving around the venue, and you think "Wow, that's amazing, it must have been crazy to film." But after this the camera goes outside the venue itself and starts swooping around what looks like the inside of the internet as imagined in a 90s hacker film.

  4. Russia's space agency plans to resume ISS tourist flights in 2018

    The Russian state space agency, Roscosmos, has indicated that it plans to restart its space tourism program in 2018 to make up for the loss of its current contract with NASA. In a statement, Energiya space corporation — the agency's main subsidiary in manned orbital flights — said that Roscosmos would compensate for the fall of demand for manned Soyuz spaceships by "resuming short-term commercial expeditions to the Russian segment of the ISS."

  5. Watch this excellent, historically accurate Star Wars anime short

    Even the less (fictionally) plausible events in Johnson's film are explainable in Star Wars' lore. The Interdictor-class vessel is presumably able to deflect incoming torpedoes by manipulating its gravity well generators. The TIE bomber — traditionally a sluggish sitting duck of a target — is able to deploy missiles to knock off half a squadron of Rebel fighters in one strike because its pilot, as explained in the short's accompanying materials, has developed her own advanced armaments. This devotion to canon makes the film, already enjoyable for its explosions and excellently '80s hair metal soundtrack, even more satisfying.

Mulder of the day