X-Files fuels new phase of paranoia

Yes, the truth might be “out there,” just like we’re told in TV shows and the movies. But trust your own common sense — truth has never been sold at $7 a ticket.
I’ve had the chance to see the new “X-Files” movie. I confess, I was just hoping, like everyone else, I’d get the chance to see Mulder and Scully get it on. Of course, they didn’t. The movie still lived up to its promise of supplying plenty of conspiratorial twists, the kinds that true X-Philes have always got off on.
If the movie says anything serious about society’s current ideas on our roles in the universe, it is, indeed, time to get paranoid. The possibility of extraterrestrial life isn’t nearly as troubling as the growing belief that those who don’t believe in aliens are the real enemies — the true conspiracy, if you will.
Whether we know it or not, you, me, and all of the rest of us who watch “The X-Files” just for kicks have become part of a plot much bigger than the movie or any weekly episode. Everything, you might be surprised to find, is a conspiracy! And covering up the conspiracy to cover up a potential alien invasion has now become the ultimate conspiracy. Or something like that.
The imagery accompanying the mere possibility of life in outer space has yet to create a new reality. It is more like fiction that is stranger than truth.
Jump on-line and find out how really “out there” this fantasy has become — as the clock ticks toward 2000, I promise you will see even wilder signs of the time.
One on-line “authority” I visited advised me to “Read the papers! Watch TV! Go to the movies! Our government is finally admitting to a worldwide E.T. abduction crisis.” In the same paragraph, I was told “the media are highly-censored, manipulated and controlled.” I presumed this “authority” meant the ultimate control of the world of journalism belonged to aliens.
I suppose the fact that you’re reading my column right now might shed some light on the matter. Or maybe I’m part of the plot too!
What’s worse, this on-line quack — I mean “consultant” — informs presumably sincere readers that “Human abductions and animal mutilations have been reported for nearly half a decade … Zetas from the star system Zeta Reticuli, commonly referred to as ‘grays,’ traded technology for ‘permission’ to experiment on the human race.”
I don’t buy it. And I’m not going to buy the book advertised on the Web site that explains all of this nonsense. Nor will I order the book of this self-proclaimed doctor describing the sure-fire method for the removal of alien implanted bugs — microchips “somewhere in the nose or brain.”
In the good old days of Freudian psychoanalysis, this mania would have been diagnosed as symptomatic of schizophrenic delusions.
Today, it tickets $31 million in “The X-Files” movie’s opening week sales, as well as a guaranteed run on Fox television through the end of the millennium.
For just a few dollars a month, however, another Web advertiser will offer subscriptions to “UFO Magazine Uncensored,” or “UFO Reports.” We might spend a few more dollars on “UFO Files — Premier Issue on Alien Mind Control, Prophecies, Time travel, Atlantis, the Anti-Christ or the possible explanation of the Roswell UFO crash.” Or we can always send in for the free booklet on “How to Stop Alien Abduction.”
We all now know how that Roswell story has become the buzz these days, popularized, again, by Fox. Time magazine even dedicated a recent issue to the UFO crash, an increasingly powerful chapter in modern folklore, claiming it was one of the biggest stories of the millennium.
I’m more certain that the biggest story of this millennium is that we may actually live to see the end of it. Just one decade ago, the greatest enemy of humanity was humanity itself. A push of the button by one or two really powerful human beings threatened to wipe us all off the face of the planet.
You’d think we would all now be content without having to contend with the major superpowers. Instead, we’ve gone out of our way to create little green men in order to keep our fears and petty grudges alive and well, as if they were our last resort in developing a sense of security, humanities’ perpetual love of the bogeyman.
The whole millennial predicament has gotten so bad that Hollywood is going out of its way to entirely rewrite the book of Revelation. In the renovated depiction of the ultimate conflict between good and evil, the battle in the soon-to-be blockbuster movie “Armageddon” is fought in space between a handful of humans and a giant rock. Never mind this stuff about salvation, a new era of justice and peace, or even the scheduled blood bath in Israel, the only forces we know how to contend with anymore don’t even have to be alive.
Who wouldn’t prefer the enemies we know are real? Give me the classical struggles of humanity any day, the good guy vs. the bad guy.
All along, the best humanists have even been willing to admit that they don’t have all of the answers. Yet this increasingly fascination with aliens denies anyone’s ability to find any real truth or meaning in ourselves, in this lifetime, on this planet or in our God.
Since “Star Wars” rolled around — the only true good guy, bad guy flicks of the era — we humanists haven’t heard anything but this noise about aliens. We are still sure these aliens had nothing to do with the creation of the Mona Lisa, the Sistine Chapel, Pilgrim’s Progress, or the Declaration of the Rights of Man.
If this world we live on has any sense of sanity left, the whole aura surrounding “The X-Files” will be delegated to the ranks of, at best, another one of those human creations.
If it winds up, instead, being representative of how this age really feels about our roles in the universe, I’ll be among the first to issue the transmitter call, “Beam me up Scotty. There’s no intelligent life here.”
Gregory Borchard’s column will appear on Fridays this summer. He can be reached with comments via e-mail at [email protected]