Movies & TV
Heinous Taxonomy - X-Files Bizarre
The Top 10 Provocative Phenomena List...
The X-Files focused on strange happenings and was an investigation of supernatural phenomena. As such, there was a variety of bizarre creatures that FBI agents Mulder and Scully faced. Some were gentle and unsuspecting while others were vile predators of the deadliest kind. All of the bizarre phenomena tease out a real anxiety for humanity underlying the surface details of the investigation by Mulder and Scully. This is a top ten list for the most provocative phenomena in the series with an explanation of the relevance of the episode to more profound philosophical questions. The list is in chronological order.
1. S02E02 The Host - The Flukeman
Flukeman was a product of radiation and contamination. Although grotesque and feral, Flukeman was a creature more scared of us than we were of him. Flukeman represents the reality of pollution of the planet and an anxiety regarding nuclear power. It is no surprise that the writers decided to have the Flukeman's origins as being Russian given that nuclear paranoia was inflamed and sustained by the Chernobyl disaster (Russian USSR patronage). As a result of the media allowing nuclear paranoia to proliferate, the human race has been severely pushed back in the development of viable alternate energy sources such as fusion power - a clean, safe endless supply of energy has been stigmatized as dangerous. A creature such as Flukeman feeds these irrational fears.
2. S02E10 Red Museum - Town's Rape-Crazed Youth
A small town suffers division when its meat manufacturing plants appear to be contaminated. A vegetarian cult develops as an extreme reaction. The contaminated meat is leading to the meat-eating youth of the town developing into aggressive sex offenders. Although, the contamination is posited as a government conspiracy, that storyline belies a real issue for our society whereby genetic modification and hormone treatment in the agricultural sector has had a marked impact on young people already. Young women are growing very large in the West while young men are growing tall but not filling out (likely because female growth hormones are still growth hormones... just nothing to encourage male-specific growth). The feminization of the Western male is likely a reality as evidenced by simple observation. The Red Museum episode, however, suggests that the contamination of meat led to a feralization of youth - some kind of atavistic degenerative condition that fortunately we have been spared at this point.
3. S02E20 Humbug - Fiji Mermaid (Leonard and Lanny)
This story takes Mulder and Scully to a traveling fair focused on promoting its circus freak sideshow attraction. The agents are investigating the murder of one of the performers, but Mulder astutely notes that their investigation could be construed as racial profiling given that they are inclined to suspect the other performers instead of regular townspeople. The lack of understanding for the abnormalities of the performers makes them rife for suspicion. The killer turns out to be the in fetu conjoined twin of one of the performers who is able to detach and then return to the host body. This episode plays around with the idea of physical abnormality investigating what defines a person at the level of being skin-deep. In the present era, this is a real issue whereby humanity is cleaving into two primary races - the Heteronormative and the Androgynous. The Androgynous include all individuals who have gender identity and sexual identity that differs from traditional perceptions on outward appearances. Who are the repressed Leonard's among them though?
4. S04E02 Home - The Peacock Family
The Peacock family are a backwoods inbred family where all of the family members have a surfeit of congenital birth defects. They are atavistic and pervasively violent, with twisted psyches and aberrant mindsets. Eventually, Mulder and Scully realize that they cannot help any of the Peacocks and that their fate is to serve as an example of what not to do in life. The issue of inbreeding is less of a genetic threat to Westerners than a political one. With Trump and Clinton creating extreme divisiveness and with Brexit having been achieved with not much more than half of the votes, it is clear that Western cultures may end up suffering a degree of inbreeding in the future at the political and cultural level.
5. S05E16 Mind's Eye - Marty Glenn and her Father
Marty Glenn was born blind but has the ability to see the world of her father in her mind's eye. Her father is a violent criminal who murdered Marty's mother and spent most of his life in jail. Marty has been living in prison psychologically and as a result has a tough demeanor. When the father is released, he begins murdering again. Marty attempts to clean up the crime scenes but gets caught. The police determine that although she can't be the killer, it is uncanny that she knows the location of murders - to clear the crime on their books, they may pin the murders on her. Eventually, she confronts her father and kills him. The genetic clairvoyance is bizarre but underlies a real issue for humanity whereby family members often cover up heinous crimes for each other. Most child rape is incest and the direct victims and indirect victims (witnesses) rarely confront their offender, instead living out a traumatized existence and often perpetrating harm on others that have no connection to the family's woes - simply those perceived as equally deserving of punishment and anguish.
6. S06E10 Tithonus - Alfred Fellig
Fellig lives with a curse, similar to that of Clyde Bruckman - he can see those on death's door. Fellig is able to see that someone is about to die and when this happens he follows them and captures the scene through photographs. He has made a living as a freelance photographer, selling many of his best shots to newspapers. Scully starts to piece together details about Fellig's supernatural abilities while Mulder does some research to reveal that Fellig has lived with his curse for more than a hundred years. He can't die seemingly, yet the onset of the curse is related to murders Fellig committed in the past. The significance of the episode is an examination of human indifference - the ironically most easily learned human behaviour. It is human indifference that is the bane of the species contributing to extended and needless suffering for all.
7. S06E13 Agua Mala - Tentacle Monster
Mulder and Scully end up stranded by a hurricane in Florida. The upheaval of sea water transports a tentacled monster into an apartment building. It turns out that the monster requires salt water to exist which Scully exploits in order to save Mulder. The underlying anxiety should be whether this creature could eventually adapt to freshwater. Human beings evolved from apes and other more primitive species and it was those that learned to climb trees that led to the evolution - those that had mutations with opposable thumbs that came to dominate life in the trees while life in the trees was necessary protection from predators on the ground below. A species with no "freaks" that can adapt to changing environmental conditions will die off. So, in one way this episode is interesting for positing that an anomalous sea creature cannot survive a changing environment while juxtaposing that situation with that of humans who have threatened Earth's environment to the point of inducing natural disasters. Is our destruction of the environment just a necessary step in evolution or a fateful demise for the species?
8. S06E18 Milagro
Mulder's neighbour is an author whose writing comes to life. He writes about a psychic surgeon killer who with the power of his mind alone pulls hearts out of his victim's bodies. This killer is sent after Scully and it is Mulder who has to quickly unravel the mystery in order to save her. The phenomenon of conjuring is interesting to this story, but what is most fascinating is that the neighbour proves to be too ineffectual to successfully seduce Scully. As such, he sends his surrogate after her to accomplish the task of "penetration" and then leaving her with a "broken heart". With Moore's Law manifesting ubiquitously for our technological development as a species, humans must wonder how long it will be before androids are available on the market (see "I, Robot" or the anime series, "Chobits"). The ineffectual male may soon be turning away from the rejection of real women and comforting themselves with surrogate sex androids. At first, this prospect terrified me because the dishonest human race would become even more scandalous when concealing their perverse and criminal sex habits played out at home with prosthetic creatures. However, an ex-girlfriend reminded me that only the most pathetic of our species will substitute real relationships with artificial ones, and thus their weak genes will not propagate another generation. An incredible attrition lies ahead.
9. S06E21 Field Trip - Hallucinogenic Fungal Slime
Mulder and Scully are investigating the site of two oddly placed corpses. What they do not realize is that the immediate environment has an overgrowth of powerful hallucinogenic mushrooms. Scully and Mulder end up experiencing a fake reality all the while the fungal slime is slowly consuming them. They must piece together the discrepancies of their illusions to break free. The poetic beauty of this episode lies in the fact that we have a legitimate fear of simulacra (see "The Matrix" and the work of philosopher, Jean Baudrillard) yet we often consider it to be technological in origin. We inherently trust Nature and believe our collective experience to be authentic. This episode's situation confounds those beliefs. Plato's allegory of the cave is at play in this episode as Mulder and Scully are indeed trapped within a cave where the mushrooms grow most abundantly. This episode provides much food for thought regarding existential questions of how reality is defined and what we consider to be "real" from our experience.
10. S08E06 Redrum - Time and Space
Among the items in my three X-Files lists, this is the only one from either of the last two seasons. The creative and clever writing well seemed to dry up once season eight began. However, there was one interesting episode that stands out - Redrum. In this episode a DA of great repute is framed for the murder of his wife, however, he experiences the ordeal in reverse temporal order, living entire days out of sequence. This allows him to piece together who is responsible for framing him and stop the crime before it even happens. The resolution is pat of course, but the episode raises questions about regret. Many make the claim that they regret nothing in life because any change would alter who they are today and that this is not desired. However, that reasoning is utter hogwash. The true measure of a human being is that they do not disavow their mistakes and fetishize the self as immaculately conceived. Regret is essential for true appreciation of potential and thus proper realization. Denying regret is simply to live a lie and suspend one's development into a two-dimensional existential paradigm, allowing only for the briefest of jaunts into genuine insight.