Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The X-Files X-it & the Death of Conspiracy Culture, Part One

Well, after 25 years it looks like we've reached the end of the road. I'm talking about what is most probably the last permutation of The X-Files, and of the Internet conspiracy culture that rose up alongside it. 

Maybe even the end of the Internet as a public square where people from all walks of life and all kinds of varying viewpoints mingle and argue. For some reason the three feel intimately linked.

Let's rewind the clock a bit here.

The X-Files returned in 2016 for a massively-hyped "event series" that felt nothing if not uneventful. Chris Carter tried to "get the band back together" as best he could, roping in nerdly favorites like Glen and Darin Morgan and James Wong, authors of some of the series' best-loved episodes. 

But other mainstays-- notably Howard Gordon (24, Homeland), Frank Spotnitz (Strike Back, The Man in the High Castle) and Vince Gilligan (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul)-- were too busy with other projects to pitch in. They were missed.

The premiere episode ran after the Super Bowl L and scored huge ratings. X-Files chatter rose up like murmurations of grackles all across social media. And significantly, the program also lit up the conspiracy/ parapolitical/ UFO nexus like a Christmas tree. 

The show had no sooner ended than countless YouTube videos of the scorching duologue between Mulder and "Tad O'Malley" (a character based on Alex Jones, but played by Joel McHale and as such, immeasurably more appealing) were popping up like mushrooms after a summer storm.

All of which is to say the critics-- hyper-partisan globo-neolib extremists to a one-- hated every second of it like poison. 

Poison multiplied by AIDS-squared, plus the square-root of cancer.

The premiere episode was far from perfect. The overall rustiness on the part of the show's ruling triumvirate (Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson) was all too apparent. Duchovny seemed stuck in Hank Moody gear (his character from the long-running sex comedy Californication) and Anderson was still clearly fixated on Stella Gibson, her character from the Irish crime drama The Fall.

Mercifully, she didn't speak with a British accent.

Carter clearly had a lot on his mind but seemed all too prone to the stilted, pretentious, Marvel Comics-circa-1973 dialogue tics he often lapsed into in Mytharc episodes in the old days. Back then it mostly worked (with everyone except USENET nitpickers, that is) because it lent the show a kind of portentous, quasi-Biblical air. 

In the Age of Peak TV it just feels a bit cringey.

From there the tone veered drunkenly from ep to ep, with not even the slightest shred of continuity or mood between the six episodes. 

Wong's "Founder's Mutation" was the strongest of the lot, a canny synthesis of standalone and Mytharc that went a long way to stitching the two spheres together. But the look and feel was far more Fringe than classic X. No nostalgia fix there, in other words.

Darin Morgan's "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" was a dumpy, middle-aged pity-party, undone by comedy so broad and ham-fisted you half-expected Soupy Sales to pop out of the woodwork. 

Brother Glen worked a lot harder than anyone at reaching for that classic 1994 ambiance, but his "Home Again" threw a recycled monster (from the sixth season's "Arcadia") in a pot with the overwrought hospital-bed melodrama XF fans tired of back in the 90s and seasoned it with a bizarro soliloquy from a veteran punk rocker (Tim Armstrong of Rancid). 

And so Armstrong, having proved to the world a very long time ago that he couldn't sing, took it upon himself to prove that he can't even talk with this incomprehensible performance. 

Of course, neither's really a handicap in a legendary street-punk outfit like Rancid, but perhaps a wee bit more so in The X-Files(If you deign to watch it, use subtitles. You can thank me in the comments). 

But by this point, the initial rush of excitement and expectation had cooled considerably. This wasn't The X-Files we all remembered from the good old days. This was more like if Led Zeppelin had reformed and recorded a dubstep album. 

In other words, that comforting cathode glow from our salad days was MIA, to say the least.

All of which seemed to signal to Chris Carter that now was the time to metaphorically go off his meds and cook up one of his patented forty-minute freak-outs. 

This time he dropped "Babylon" on the heads of unsuspecting couch potatoes, a lusty spinning-kick at all manner of hornet's nests (Islam, terrorism, drugs, redneck culture) that probably seemed like a really great idea at the time.

Assuming, of course, he was dosing.

On paper,  "Babylon" is fascinating, a long-overdue acknowledgement of the powerful influence of hallucinogens and ancient Mystery cults on the show

On screen, however, it was a watch-through-your-fingers trainwreck, filled with Mulder-Scully cartoon dopplegangers (Einstein and Miller, who the fans instantly loathed), cartoon country line dancing, cartoon cowboys, cartoon racists, cartoon cable news pundits, cartoon terrorists and cartoon Muslim mothers.

Not content with that heapin' helpin' of felony fan-abuse, Carter then hastily worked up a season-slash-series finale. Apparently with a gun to his head, judging by the writing. 

All of which is to say that "My Struggle II" makes "Babylon" look like "Duane Barry" in comparison. The dialogue was purplier, the motivations more opaque, and the acting more wooden than ever before in the show's checkered history. 

In true Carterian fashion, it climaxed with all hell breaking loose in the form of a weaponized contagion. And it all ended with a stunning set piece that had a prostrate Mulder and a helpless Scully face to face with certain death-- and global apocalypse-- in the form of a hovering UFO. Plus, um, that Miller guy.

Fans were baffled, M/S 'shippers were apoplectic with rage and critics had written it all off weeks before.

And so that seemed to be the ignoble end to a once-glorious franchise.

All that being said, the event series earned enough dosh for the struggling FOX network to garner another go. This time the season would run for ten episodes, presumably giving the writers more room to "wrap it all up" and send Mulder and Scully off into the sunset to live out their days in peace.

The thing was that Carter seems to believe he "wrapped it all up" back in 2001, with the eighth season's finale. 

That storyline was originally designed to cap the Mulder-Scully arc and pass the torch to the new agents. The plan was to have the show continue on with a new stars and a new showrunner (presumably Spotnitz and/or Gilligan) while Carter, Duchovny and Anderson launched a new franchise in the movie theaters.

The problem was that Gillian Anderson stayed on for the ninth season, which badly gummed up the works. Her storyline still had to be serviced, which went a long way to hindering any fan investment in the new XF team. 

Worse, the Internet culture that "grew up" with the X-Files had long since gone toxic, the online XF forums (that once earned articles on their own) now reduced to shit and garbage. (Glen Morgan actually wrote alt.tv.x-files off in the middle of the second season).

Then, of course, 9/11 happened and all of a sudden no one was much interested in hearing about government conspiracies anymore. 

Of course, it didn't help that X-Files spinoff The Lone Gunman (whose pilot ran in TXF's Sunday night slot very much like a traditional TLG guest-episode of the mothership) centered around a hidden government cabal trying to remote-control an airliner into the World Trade Center. 


The ninth season is actually a lot better than it gets credit for. That is with the obvious exception of  the mytharc, that mostly very much plays like a storyline its writers were being forced by network to keep kicking like a long-dead horse. 

And the second XF movie is also miles better than consensus opinion would lead you to believe. It's just very, very dark and very, very grim. 

But it seems that it too was designed to "wrap up" the Mulder-Scully storyline. It's just that it was the feel-bad movie of Summer 2008 and didn't have any flying saucers in it.

And so it transpired that for Season Eleven the writers dropped any pretense that The X-Files revival was anything but a nostalgia exercise for graying GenXers.  

Which, of course, was more than fine by me, being a graying GenXer. 

All the more so since it produced some of the most satisfying episodes since that epic Mytharc run in the middle of the eighth season. Only with that irreplaceable Vancouver mist. Plus,  Mark Snow back on the sine-waves and drum patches, where he belongs.

And it all started in the traditional X-Files fashion. Meaning with a fucking terrible season opener. 

Well, it wasn't uniformly terrible. It just felt like your typical first-draft Carter cram-job. Only this time with inexplicable inner dialogues on loan from Sin City. 

And not even the good Sin City. The inner dialogues from Sin City: A Dame to Kill for.

Still, William B Davis seemed to be having a lot of fun gnawing on the scenery and spouting Carter's Kree-Skrull War-worthy dialogue like it was holy writ. And it was nice to see Chris Owens as a miraculously-healed Jeffrey Spender (a role written for Robert Patrick, who wasn't available) and Annabeth Gish's Monica Reyes standing in for Laurie Holden's Marita Covarrubias. 

Plus,  AC Peterson was terrific as Mr. Y, who showed up next for a few seconds in the last episode to meet his maker. Of course. Carters gonna Carter.

In keeping with the times, the conspiracy now centered on the Breakaway Civilization and the Secret Space Program. Plus, the Singularity. Plus, Transhumanism. 

And we were also told the aliens weren't interested in our planet anymore because of...uh, global warming. Hey, this shit is written in California, you dig? Global warming is their Calvinism.

Anyway, the ship righted itself soon after the smoke from the "My Struggle" stinkbomb cleared.

What's truly remarkable about the writing in this season is its quintessence. Glen Morgan not only wrote a corker of an Ep. 02 ("This"), he wrote a quintessential Glen Morgan script

Meaning it starts with a very "Home"-adjecent set piece set to a Ramones song, lifts its premise nearly wholesale from an earlier XF classic ("Kill Switch," which it name-drops) and has a leftover Lone Gunman dropping late-Boomer popcult references hither and yon like a pomo Johnny Appleseed. 

Plus, tons of quippy dialogue and pulpy comic book action. 

Hell, I even pulled out my copy of Vitalogy to really soak in the 1994-ness of it all once it was over. Well, not really. But I would have had I thought of it.

Barbara Hershey, whom Chris Carter didn't seem to have the first clue what to do with, appears again as the evil Erika Price, who seems like the bastard child of Ray Kurzweil and Diana Fowley. She mouths the whole uploading spiel to Mulder in a memorable confrontation and almost sounds convincing. 

Overall, "This" is a terrific back-to-basics exercise signaling an oncoming parade of equally-worthy back-t0-basics exercises. Thank God.

That sighing sound you heard over the winter was that of angry sphincters all across the X-File Nation unclenching with relief when the credits for Ep. 03 rolled. 

Of course, we're talking here about Chris Carter's loopy "Plus One", a circa Season Five ep in all but the timeline. Certainly in spirit, look and feel. 

In other words, quintessential Chris Carter.

Now, the running theme throughout Season Eleven is alternate reality. "My Struggle III" was a shitshow to be sure, but came this close to convincing me that "My Struggle II" was meant to be a vision-slash-prophecy all along. 

Subsequently, "This" concretizes the alternate reality in Cyberspace. And "Plus One" is filled with Carter's traditional doppelgangers, many of which come across like unwilling, pissed-off abductees from a mirror universe.

Mind you, "Plus One" makes not one single lick of sense but is so giddy and high-on-its-own-supply that you don't even have time to notice. It very much reminded me of Carterian freakouts like "Post-Modern Prometheus" and "Improbable," but considerably more traditionalist as far as the actual X-File goes. 

It all kicks off with a punk trio covering a David Duchovny song (no, seriously) and barrels on into the dark, dark night from there. XF stalwart Karin Konoval (the inbreeding mother from "Home") plays male-female fraternal twins (gender-bending being another longtime Carter trope) with such abandon you nearly get a contact buzz from her. 

And then there's the bit with the fucking.

'Shippers, those poor, sweet summer children, have long-loathed Chris Carter for his unwillingness to turn The X-Files into /slash porn. Carter, a Baptist boy at heart, is a big believer in delayed gratification (read: ****-teasing)

Well, onscreen at least.

Knowing this was probably his last rodeo, Carter gave the 'Shippers (and possibly the snoggers) what they've been pining for, some flat-out Mulder-Scully fucking. Well, in his own weird way. 

But the 'shippers understood that in an X-Files context, "Plus One" was XXX hardcore porn. And the Mulder-Scully have to share a room trope might not have been lifted from a thousand fanfics dating back to 1993 but it most certainly felt like it was.

That most iconic of conspiracy settings, the parking garage

With Morgan and Carter having kicked in their quintessential eps as standalone valedictories, Darin Morgan then came up to bat. 

And here's where the broader undercurrent of the X-Files' victory lap bubbled to the surface, the collapse of conspiracy culture.

I realize most folks loved (or rather, pretended to love) "Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster" but some others, including myself, most certainly did not. It all seemed so miserable and male-menopause to me, Morgan's lament that he had never been able to follow up on his incredible TenThirteen success. 

We should all have those problems, guy.

Anyhow, it could be argued that "The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat" is mining that same lode (with Reggie Something, bystander to the X-Files' explosive success, mirroring Morgan himself after he left the series), but for my money it's considerably more witty (rather than bitter) and self-effacing (rather than self-loathing) than its predecessor.

"Sweat" too is a quintessential ep. In fact, it's so quintessential Darin Morgan that I almost felt like I'd been teleported back to 1996, which you probably all know is my fondest, dearest wish in life. 

More so than a Darin XF ep, "Sweat" reminds me very much of "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense," the ersatz Millennium sequel to my favorite Darin XF ep "Jose Chung's From Outer Space." It has that same MAD magazine circa 1972 quality to it, that kitchen sink-sense of utter abandon. 

Plus, the Zelig pastiche in the middle is particularly priceless. And kudos to DM for casting the tragically-underused Bill Dow in a brilliant cameo.

The centerpiece of the story however is a confrontation between Mulder and Dr. They, played with absolute perfect pitch by veteran character actor Stuart Margolin. 

And it's here that Morgan reads the epitaph for The X-Files, as well as conspiracy culture itself. 

A bit of history first.

The conspiracy culture that fed The X-Files was not the paleocon strain or the eschatological variety, both so commonly demonized today by those who grew up, calmed down and began wearing blue and brown. 

Rather, it was the druggy strain of the Illuminatus! Trilogy, Mae Brussel, and Apocalypse Culture. It was the conspiracy culture of WBAI-FM, Dave Emory and RE/search. It was a distinctly anti-authoritarian, left-libertarian exegesis, brewed up in the bloodstains left by the Kennedy assassinations, Kent State and Viet Nam.

Consequently, a parade of perfectly-rendered phreak-culture ringers traipsed across the screen, starting very early during the X-Files' run. 

From the first season you had Brad Wilchek, the blatant Steve Jobs-in-exile analog, and Max Fennig, the doomed alien-abductee turned conspiracy vagabond. Max in turn inspired the Lone Gunmen, whom Morgan and Wong based on a trio of weirdoes they met at a conspiracy con. 

The second season threw Chuck Burks and the short-lived Thinker into the stew. All of this reached its apogee with Vince Gilligan's work of mad genius, "Unusual Suspects," which told the Gunmen's origin.

But moving parallel with these were a rather-more serious breed of dissenters, starting with Tony Todd's avenging-angel in "Sleepless." Immediately following him was Steve Railsback's psychotic abductee Duane Barry and following him in turn was a parade of militia types (including double-agents and plants) and apocalyptic cult leaders like Richard Odin, Vernon Ephesian, Absalom and Josepho.

You could trace a kind of evolution in the series' history where both the nerdy and the heavy conspiracy-types ran in tandom before the nerdy types ultimately fell by the wayside. And in the final two seasons we have Tad O'Malley, who's kind of like Alex Jones, only charming and charismatic (can you ever picture Joel McHale playing an unlikable character?).

But with Trump's election, the Establishment no longer has any patience at all for conspiracy culture, other than its own. The Neolib-Neocon-FAANG-Wall Street Axis that exercises unchallenged, boot-to-the-neck dominance over every single institution in this country (aside from the Executive branch and a few impotent state gov'ts, at least ostensibly) tolerates not even the slightest deviation or dissent from its agenda, whether from the left, right or middle. 

So now, with the help of the engineering overlords of SiliCylon Valley, Cylon Francisco and Cyleattle, any discouraging words can be effectively silenced with a sleepless algorithm. And they're working day and night to try to stop any troubling individual thinking at the source. 

Meaning inside your skull. 

There may still be a rump of conspiracy culture-- mainly of the nihilistic Pizzagate variety-- left on social media, but if things continue on in their present course, those voices will be silenced sooner than later. 

But the other force militating against conspiracy culture is the collapse of the Center, which apparently didn't hold, after all. There's no monolithic voice of authority to appeal to and try to steer in your direction. The actual adults in this country -- and probably yours-- are all long since dead and buried.

And our current-model mainstream news media makes Andropov-era Soviet state media look like a stern pillar of objectivity. 

Maybe it's always been that way but they used to be better at hiding it. And shrinking budgets have left even the most-vaunted news outlets in the hands of Peter-Principle incompetents and clueless, debt-crippled Millennials wondering exactly when the hell their once-accustomed state of historically-unparalleled hyper-privilege evaporated (hint: it was after graduation).

So you can have all the facts in hand, all the documents, all the evidence you like. If no one wants to hear, it will never be heard. Guaranteed. Full stop.

I'd like to say I see this changing in the future but unless people stop using their computers for self-validation and dopamine fixes, I don't see that happening. 

So the romantic quest of a Mulder and Scully, firm in the belief that the "Truth"-capital T will set you free, doesn't even register in this day and age. If any Truth happens to darken your day, your Twitter and/or Facebook feed will chase those blues away. No one even cares about objective Truth anymore. Doing so is almost certainly a fireable offense these days, anyway. So I'd check with your HR dept.

Anyway, leave it to Darin Morgan-- Ten Thirteen's resident Trickster-- to drop that truthbomb in our laps. 

With that all said and done, let's return to our regularly-scheduled program because there's a lot more of this to chew on. Plus, trangenics, mind control, witchcraft, child abuse, Hollywood vampirism and more of that beautiful Vancouver rain. 

Tell you what, we'll do it in Part Two, because I'm getting mighty sleepy. Or maybe its depression-fatigue. I seriously can't tell the difference anymore.



  1. Chris,

    Great read! Your comment, "If no one wants to hear, it will never be heard" immediately reminded me of Alphaville, the sci-fi movie set in a future off-world authoritarian society. A bellhop is constantly entering the protagonist's hotel room to switch out a bedside book with an updated copy. The Bible? No, the Dictionary, where the updates have removed selected words. Dissent and free thought were controlled in Alphaville by removing the very concepts on which they might be based. It can be argued that the Internet, for all its "freedom", achieves a similar result not by eliminating concepts but by hyper-focus on a narrow band of instant rewards. All others are present but lost in the miasma.

    On a generational note, it might be that we're seeing the pause before a new variant emerges. I'm thinking of how traditional Saucer culture from the 1950s, with its ETH and the incredible variety of alien life forms, seemed to sputter and fade by the early 1980s. Was this due to the uniformity and commodification of concepts foisted upon us by such mass-market media as the movie Close Encounters Of The Third Kind? Or, was the relegation of aliens to cartoon fantasies such as Star Wars a factor? Perhaps it was merely time, as 25 years or so had passed and the original Saucer generation was exhausted. We may be seeing a similar phenomenon, for as you point out we original Xers are greying. Are we entering an Interregnum where a decade or so must pass before a new wave presents itself? Time will tell.

    1. I don't know if i'm a millenial or not (34yo) but for me it's like a lot of my generation knows that most conspiracy theories are very close from the "truth", but it doesn't matter what we think, because the power structure is very much present and "stable" now, so they don't worry too much for anything, except for enjoying the ride. (note that i'm from the bottom of the world, so it may be that we are too far away from everything, and we notice that the U.S. think most of the time that it is the center of he earth)

      As a personal opinion, i was today thinking on this article and it crossed my mind that this is actually the calm before the storm, but i try not to get carried away by my optimism.

    2. Moses- Damn, I think I saw Alphaville on PBS a million years ago. Maybe it's due a rewatch. As far as UFOculture, it got really interesting in the 80s since it went super-fringe. Then Communion came along...

      Pilar: Well, my kids are Millennials and I'm proud to say that they're like Viking GenXers in spirit. Nothing remotely snowflakey about them. So categories are for libraries, dig?

    3. Among the fringe (of which I’m a proud longstanding member) there’s an unsettling tendency to use movies as evidence to support a variety of theories and ideas. (Movies, specifically, as opposed to any other cultural artifact.) I mean, it is a real tic. If you’ve ever listened to Coast to Coast or any paranormal podcast derivative of that show, you’ll hear it over and over again, this comparison of “real life” phenomena to movies, or an experiencer describing any and all parts of their experience in reference to movies. Perhaps the attention and money and viewing spent on even the cheapest, tawdriest Major Motion Picture will inevitably create egregores, or else movies have effectively ruined everyone’s imagination.

      My unpopular opinion is that movies, and everything about them, generally suck. The xfiles, now that they are essentially movies, suck also, in a way that actual tv doesnt. ANd whats with this Peak TV thing, this is the fifth time in three days Ive heard the term (never having heard it before, since I live under a rock). Peak TV is not TV, it is movies, and... return to start.

  2. Great article!!!

    By the way: When I watched the epsisode with the creepy Teletubbies [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Familiar_(The_X-Files)], I wasn't aware of Elsagate [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elsagate]. But after following the events of the last few days it makes much more sense and is even more shocking:


    1. Yeah, that shit. Some kind of psyop or something, don't you think?

      But I must admit I'm sick to death of the -gate suffix. Let'e put that one to rest.

    2. Ever get the feeling you are being distracted?

  3. Have faith, conspiracy culture is sleeping but hopefully not dead. Millennials will become old and bitter like us one day too when they take the red pill and escape the zombie apocalypse!


    1. I've met millenials who know more about the Kennedy assassination than most boomers. There's still hope.

    2. Boomers, amirite?

      I'll hold out hope for the nextgen. It's all we got left anymore.

    3. Why you gotta go straight from boomers to millenials? What, we don’t exist over here, born mid sixties to late seventies? Us?

  4. Great work- love your writing and I agree with most of your assessment :)

  5. JB (of The Meta-Logic Café)10:14 AM, July 31, 2018

    Wow. I'm sorry, but I couldn't disagree more about your take on Season 10.

    I thought "My Struggle" parts 1 and 2 were by far some of the best X-Files ever. Put them topgether and you've finally got a damn good X-Files movie, with the ballsiest ending I've ever seen: "The bad guys win, THE END. Did you actually think two persons could stop an alien invasion or an Illuminati plan for world domination? No, of course not. You're gonna die too when the s**t hits the fan IRL BTW."

    Season 11 felt mostly "meh" to me, a little too much like Season 9. Both times it should have ended the season before, but it didn't.

    1. I agree with you in theory. In execution? Not so much.

      But yeah, I think I said as much on Runey.

  6. You make an excellent point about the texture of entertainment in general. From the visuals to the actual story line, it seems things are either overly stilted and stale (Carter) or so slickly packaged that it hard to tell if there's actually anything at the core ('no' is usually the best bet).

    In other words, that comforting cathode glow from our salad days was MIA, to say the least.
    It's kind of like listening to music that's be re-recorded or cleaned up. Sometimes the little imperfections from the record or the audio systems of the time were a part of the song in a way. The blemishes made it gritty... human.

    Looking forward to part two!

    1. And we were young!
      That gives everything a comforting glow. :-)

    2. I wasn't that young. I was 27 when the show premiered.

      But of course I smoked a lot more weed back then.

  7. Here's a conspiracy for you. Imagine the deep smoker's voice if you like. If Apple computer products are made to such high standards then how come they make such tremendous profit? Luxury products made to exceptionally high standards are expensive to make are they not?

    1. Sorry, but that doesn't count as a conspiracy to me. It sounds simply like engaging your braincells to do what you're supposed to do with them.

    2. No conspiracy. It's all totally wholesome free enterprise like buying real apples from your local farmer's market. Hahaha.

    3. Most mass-produced items, luxury or not, are designed from inception to be produced in volume and with a sharp eye on manufacturing costs. There's no conspiracy as we discuss it, merely good ol' exploitation of cheap labor.

    4. Are you telling me that you don't believe that their products walk into your hands straight out of your dreams? How very materialistic and prosaic of you all.

    5. Yes; programmed 'propaganda'.
      "MIND"; GET IT!

    6. I'm thinking of an old Billy Ocean song for some reason.

    7. At least you are not thinking about U2 after having their music forcibly pushed into your music library for "free". Music that gets out of the cloud and into the wireless ear plugs that you had to buy because no others on the market are compatible with the new devices. How romantic!

    8. Get out of my car, and into my dreams! Is that how it went, or was it get into my car and out of my dreams?

      Also, as a marxist, I find the OP’s understanding of basic economics a little lacking, I dunno...

  8. In LA, apparently gold is the new orange:

  9. Joel Mchale as Alex Jones, like James Brolin as P.W. Herman.

  10. I just referenced the new X-Files season yesterday and while "Forehead Sweat" was entertaining, with the references to the Mandela Effect, etc., I am still weirded out by the ep with Langly. I admittedly have mixed feelings. And perhaps you are correct. It's GenX nostalgia. After all, I talk about the show with my fellow college friends/GenX folks and we're graying. Sigh.

    1. Heh. I think "weirded out" is the intended effect. Don't quote me on that, though.

      I'm stupid.

  11. My brother suggested I might like this website. He was entirely right.
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    1. Thanks. Tell your brother I accept Bitcoin and most major credit cards.

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  12. London wins the OWL grand finals.


    London Spitfire (Cyan/Orange) defeats Philadelphia Fusion (Orange/White) in Barklays Center, Brooklyn. Star player was the Korean Jun-Young "Profit" Park.

    Different flavors of orange battle for the Owl. What does it all mean?

    Philadelphia Fusion logo is something that superficially looks like the "planetary" model of an atom but has two orbits instead of three. Is it really atomic fusion that they are referring to? The London logo is well, a spitfire. Two heavenly bodies that orbit each other? Something that spits out a fiery substance? Hmm. Sounds astronomical to me.

    1. Wow, congrats to London.

      One question- what on earth is the overwatch league? Is that like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen?

    2. Just a bunch of nerds throwing money against a wall.

  13. I'd love to see a new season featuring Miller and Einstein teamed up with the irrepressible Simon "White-Thatch" Potentloins from the Lone Gunmen. Duchovny could take on a Skinner-type role, a Bureau veteran who oversees the youngsters. Scully becomes a CGI mermaid queen on an alien planet or something like that.

    1. Agreed! Lauren Ambrose is a great actress, much better than Gillian Anderson IMHO, this would be a great show. Psycho Beach Party could have been a X-files episode.

    2. Gene, I'll pass that on to my contacts at 1013.

      ChristianP-- you'd best not say such things above a whisper. I don't want the Anderson Army coming after you. Like piranhas, they are.

  14. "2018 : The Year the Internet Died" Agree,we have reached the end of the web as a public forum for sharing information.In the past year,we have seen YT channels,open commenting and discussion forums disappear from existence.The 1984-styled great purge of free speech has reached every corner of the web.The "anon commenter" is officially on the Internet Extinction List.Yes,the search engine algorithms keep the truth away."The End" : is the public's silence when they find an individual who challenges the daily lies..."Truth is always the enemy of power.And power the enemy of truth." - Edward Abbey

    1. Bollocks to that! For those who want to roll over in the fetal position at the first hurdle, that's their choice. I would rather fight to the death than take it up the ass! YT and Google can get fucked

      Read Hagakure for some inspiration on how to think like a warrior

    2. Doesn't Alphabet own Blogger?

    3. Power is always the problem. Ideology is vaporware.

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  16. The age of conspiracy is over. The age of naked, bloody realities is upon us, and there are just those who see it coming before it arrives and those who will be shocked once again when it washes over us. The biggest and most important "conspiracy" brand on the internet is /pol/. There's not even a good contest for second place. The racialization of broader culture through the alt-conspiracy/4chan subculture is inevitable, and if the experiences of nations like yugoslavia are anything to go from, the waters are only going to get a whole lot murkier and a whole lot bloodier from here. Am I supposed to be sorry about it or something?

    1. 4chan /pol/ is a cult and probably a psyop. QAnon is definitely a pied piper psyop.

      Trump is doing absolutely everything your new world order conspiracy theories predicted and your psyops have you cheering for the coming of martial law, mass arrests, and military tribunals. The armies of the new world order are coming and you're waiting to rush out and give them a big old hug and wave them past with a salute.

      Not that others didn't help lay the groundwork before Trump... whether they knew the hell at the end of the road they were paving or not, doesn't much matter.

      You will be the first ones rounded up after the takeover just like the brown shirts in Germany or the true Marxists who actually wanted equality under Stalin. You are useful pawns and once the real powers are in place you'll be a security risk as well as an embarrassment. Do you think these people actually believe any of this crap? They're laughing at you.

    2. Anon 6:37; Gracias.
      The 'Elite' agenda(s)
      Propaganda; MKULTRA.
      There is a reason why they have the term 'Social ENGINEERING'.

    3. Well, the Age of Conspiracy theory is over like any fringe thing that goes mainstream. If everyone is doing it it's not really a thing anymore. Kind of like IPA and avocado toast.

    4. I genuinely fear for the poor fools caught up in the 4chan pied piper cult. If it goes badly for whatever faction they're providing free labor for they might be present at the red wedding or be tossed under the bus as convenient scapegoats after. If instead it goes well for the faction they're helping boost, they'll be rounded up afterwords as dangerous discarded assets. Either way they lose.

      4chan is behind CloudFlare, a man in the middle surveillance frontend for the web. Everyone who posts there regularly is identified. Not sure about 8chan but I'm sure it's the same.

  17. Clyde Bruckman final repose is the best X-Files episode. Why? Because of that New York Knicks t-shirt.

    Powerful personal synchronicity today.

    1. Well, there's an argument-settler for you. Remind to use that during the next online flame war. =D

    2. Plus, remind *me* to use that during the next etc

  18. The conspiracy culture of the 90s/early 2000s was comparatively innocent and well meaning. Now its true nature is revealed in the QAnon stuff, Pizzagate, the Sarah Ruth AShcraft stuff... Conspiracists are not critical thinkers after all, they are dogmatists with a fascist streak a mile wide and a mile deep. Then there are the legions of idiocrats who will believe anything as long as it's "alternative" enough... We are doomed, one way or the other.

    1. Prove the Globalists Elites are not involved in Cannibalism qnd Child Rape.

    2. The burden of proof is on you. You're making the assertion. I assert that the planet is secretly governed by a dwarf who lives in a teapot in the center of the Earth. Prove me wrong!

    3. I'm wondering what specifically you think is "Facist" about Pizzagate and/or Qanon? Q actually talks about Nazis being the enemy. Like Antifa being a front for the Nazis, Angela Merkle as the daughter of Hitler.

      As for critical thinking, I would submit that "Conspiracy Theory" is LITERALLY "Critical Thinking". Accepting the consensus narrative is the antithesis of "Critical Thinking" and the Gold Standard of Dogmatism.

      Few are attracted to Pizzagate and Qanon because it's so "Alternative".

      Far from it.

      But I suspect you know that very well.

    4. Conspiracy culture has been taken over by propagandists like Alex Jones. I watched it happen starting circa 2012. I think they started it as the militarized evangelical thing was losing steam and it became clear that the New Atheist thing wasn't going to catch on much. It's not that they create movements... it's more like they look for movements they can take over and use.

      Not that I disagree about critical thinking. People in conspiracy culture are on average not much more discerning than the average person. They're just more disillusioned and/or more open to weird ideas.

    5. Pizzagate looks a lot like fascist propaganda given the circles from which it emerged. I think it's probably propaganda.


      I also know that if I really were running a blackmail ring with underage prostitutes and I were worried about being found out, a great way of protecting myself would be to issue a limited hangout via sites with zero credibility like 4chan and Reddit and then make sure all the evidence is hidden very well so when it's investigated the whole thing unravels. I'd also pepper in a lot of fake disinformation to make sure everyone looks nice and stupid. Now I've discredited the topic in the eyes of the media and the majority of the public and anyone else that comes along and accuses me will be labeled a nut. I'd even give the whole thing a stupid sounding name like "Pizzagate." I'd definitely give that a shot. Worked great for the UFO subject.

      Not sure which is true but something smells like cow patties about the whole production... and it does have all the indications of having been a production in three acts: online shitshow full of Nazi (provocateurs?), riled up idiot fires gun into ceiling in pizza joint (there was enough agitprop to ensure there would be at least one nut), media take-down and dismissal.

      Whose production and for what purpose is anyone's guess. It's either a cover up of something real or groundwork for a propaganda campaign.

    6. Anon 6:40 2012 is highly significant.

      In May of 2012 the Smith-Mundt Modernization Act was past allowing for the Federal Government to produce propaganda and broadcast it within the domestic U.S.

      Now it's legal for the Federal Government to intentionally lie to the citizenry. C'est la guerre.

    7. Jones cornered that market sector a very long time before 2012. Cooper was bitching about him ages ago.

      The idiot not only had a gun but an iMDb page. Make of that what you will.

    8. Did you ever see the photos from James Alefantis Instagram... before they were removed from the site and web searches?

    9. Yes Anon 6:16 those were weird and creepy.

      Like I said best way to cover up a real pedo underground or blackmail op would be to do a limited hangout with people who have no credibility and peppered with disinformation to be used to later discredit it.

      The way secrets are kept has changed. It's very hard to actually keep secrets in the Information Age. Information "wants to be free." Leaks are too easy. So instead you just drown everything in a steady flow of bullshit. The Russians call it the "firehose of falsehood" but they didn't invent it. We do it too. Everyone does. The "fog of war" that's descended over esoteric/conspiracy research is partly a consequence of so many parties pumping out so much disinformation that the picture just dissolves into static and noise. The truth is in there somewhere... and in fact today it's more likely that truths have leaked... but it's buried beneath the noise floor.

  19. Great post. "The Reelz network announced Aug. 12 as the date for the premiere of its drama documentary about Chris Cornell’s final hours, starring British actor Paul Ayres.
    The episode of the Autopsy: The Last Hours of … series explores the singer's last concert with Soundgarden in May 2017 and his death in Detroit later that night.
    Ayres plays Cornell in scenes including a recreation of the concert. He’s appeared in a number of large-scale musicals, including We Will Rock You, Hair and Godspell. Ben Sura, Andrew Shire and Patrick Holly play bandmates Kim Thayil, Ben Shepherd and Matt Cameron, respectively."

    1. FYI Cornell's version of 'Black HOLE Sun' was about ritual sodomy, which he experienced personally; read the lyrics.
      The opening of the 3rd 'EYE'.
      More likely some sick ass pedos using his sorry ASS.
      Chester and Chris were going 'expose' with this; DIED for it.

    2. 1036- Cheers, I'll see if I can track it down.

      1146-- Citations please.

  20. I value the early XF for giving me, then a college kid, that visceral, anxious proto-realization that governments get up to all sorts of stuff and "we the people" are little more than guinea pigs in the big scheme of things.

    As a foreigner, I loved the depictions of rural America. Not freaky, not self-serving, but raw and unsettling nonetheless. The simple, God-fearing folks who as a group, it soon dawns on us, are capable of primeval horrors. Powerful stuff.

    Which episode was it that showed the preacher who had a beast/reptile/demon living inside him? The beast would come out and devour mice. Chilling - visually and metaphorically.

    1. That scene was truly a classic. So much so I believe Whedon used a very similar scene for a character in one of Buffy's Ascension episodes. "Civilized Men" committing uncivilized atrocities always fascinate.

    2. Amazing that those depictions of rural America were all filmed in Canada, isn't it? Movie magic.

    3. P.S. Found it: It's called Signs & Wonders; ep. 9 in season 7. Takes place in a literalist "Church of God with Signs and Wonders" in Tennessee.

      A fine indictment, if ever there's been one, of the Nazi- and NASA-sponsored so-called evangelical/charismatic movement.

  21. For me, the X-Files were always a perfect encapsulation of what I liked (& feared) about the 90s. Too bad it turned into a parody of itself; should never have been brought back to begin with. These last two seasons were just circling the drain, no wonder Gillian Anderson wanted out.

    Here's an interesting little Q & A with Chris Carter from some years back though:


    "Where did the “I Want to Believe” poster from Mulder’s office come from?

    It [the poster donated to the Smithsonian] came from Gillian Anderson’s collection. All the rest of the original posters had been stolen or, I assume, destroyed.

    The original graphic came from me saying, “Let’s get a picture of a spaceship and put—Ed Ruscha-like—“I want to believe.” I love Ed Ruscha. I love the way he puts text in his paintings. (I actually got to say to him, “I was inspired by you.”) When I saw the [finished] poster I recognized the photograph because it came from a series of photographs taken in Europe by a guy named Billy Meier. And I said, “Did we get the clearance for that photograph?” And they said, “Oh, yes!” Ten years went by and all of a sudden I got a call from Fox legal: “We have an intellectual property lawsuit we have to depose you for.” And there was a lawsuit and they had not done the proper clearance for that photograph."

    Silly network!

    1. Isn't there a term for that kind of corporate incompetence? Maybe the Germans or the Japanese have a word for it.

  22. The premiere episode of 2016 where Tad O'Malley makes his revelation to Mulder and Scully strikes me as Carter saying what he had to say right off the bat. As it was anyone's guess at that point if the series' return would still resonate with people I think he wasn't taking any chances and just 'put it all out there' as it were.

    As your article (and this was a damn good one!) seems to conclude, the public and society overall has drastically changed - and not for the better. A typical person's day - Check my socialist media at least 50x. Make sure I faithfully partake in all the smiling, politically-correct horseshit to satisfy the tech gods and keep my accounts. Then go out into the world as the 'effin brain-dead robot I and 99% of the world have been trained to become. You'll recognize us if you tune into an old episode of America's Funniest Home Videos and watch the fake laughing dipshit audience. That's us now but on a grand scale. We make Robert Duvall's character in THX-1138 look like deep thinker Plato.

    'Those who grew up, calmed down, and began wearing blue and brown.' - Absolutely accurate and priceless! Did you come up with that one? If so, trademark a variation on it! I WILL NOT GROW UP, CALM DOWN, AND BEGIN WEARING BLUE AND BROWN! :-)

    It's a funny thing, Chris, I don't know if you or others here experienced this, but friends I did keep in contact with over the years I still find an ever widening gulf between us as they stick more and more with the safe programming while I don't.

    1. Haha! I was in bands that used to play Clampdown. Good times.

      And yeah, the intra-generational gulf sometimes seems wider with my generation then the others. I sometimes gravitate to younger, more tuned-in, open-minded people when those my age start sounding like Abe Simpson. Even 10 years makes a difference I've noticed.

    2. 1118-- Well put. But it's kind of isolating, innit?

      910- Sure, but did your band know the words to the intro? That would impress me.

    3. A big no on the intro lyrics, we were just drunk college kids, some real punks and some posers. Repeated the same thing again with another band a few decades later. Hell, I couldn't get even get an entire band to remember the Holiday in Cambodia started with those great guitar sound effects right before the bass. I blame the booze.

      Any, loved seeing the intro lyrics finally. Learning new stuff is one of the reasons I keep coming back.

  23. Informative article, just what I was looking for.

  24. 33: funny. Hadn't even gotten to this post. Carters will be Carters, eh? Carrter Carrter Carrter. Perfect synchronicity. Cheers.

  25. this is not about this post, haven't even read it, just sending you support and heart love for everything. I will come along anywhere you go. Facebook stinks like dead possum.

    1. Yeah, I learned that when it kept launching the camera on my iPad every time I logged in. Or when it supplied my wife with ads pertaining to conversations we had.

      Come out of Babylon, my dear. Best to you always, D.

    2. At least the Sci-Fi films of 1970s - 1990s prepared us X's for the coming tech titan dystopian total-surveillance 'Corporatism Culture' of the so-called 21st Century.

  26. Diana Fowley has OWL in her name...

  27. Omniscient Shut-in1:34 AM, August 02, 2018

    It's telling that you want to believe the "Neolib-Neocon-FAANG-Wall Street Axis" controls absolutely everything that happens on the planet. Oh, except for policies implemented by the executive branch of the US government, that famously inconsequential institution. Anyway, you're clinging to a static narrative of ESTABLISHMENT vs. ALTERNATIVE because it's simple, convenient, and comfortable.

    It allows you to ignore the fact that the "Establishment" consensus of the last few decades is breaking down in a spectacular way. This collapse has unleashed a lot of different political tendencies and factions, not all of them terribly enlightened. Some of them cling to absolutely inane conspiracy theories.

    Conspiracy culture isn't dead. It's just become a realm of fascist wish fulfillment. And immeasurably dumber, of course.

    1. Well, you're right-- under normal circumstances. But certainly not with this current executive. They can't even control the White House. Or themselves, apparently.

      So in that context, you're quite wrong. For now, at least.

  28. You do realize that the entire franchise is about the baby boomers’ impending generational death, right?

    1. Teletubbies? Hmm, never thought of it that way.

  29. Great read. As a true X-Files fan who goes back to watch season 4 episodes for fun these days, I can appreciate your synopsis of the end of the series and it's parallel line to the obvious effort to do away with 'conspiracy culture' by brute force bombing the masses with such daily weirdness that the average person is too shell shocked to try to connect any dots.

    Will really miss the FB group though. Alot.

  30. Wouldn't it be more fair to say conspiracy culture is evolving. We are 'standing on the shoulders of giants' as they say. Great sites like the Secret Sun validate this critique don't they? I see lots of good analysis done, with more discerning interpretation of the data. Sure there's more crap and dis-info out there than ever...and more and more trolls which is to be expected as they are super effective at distracting us. The ever increasing corporate clamp down means it's working, i.e., they see it and they don't like it! It's having a positive impact on our consciousness which is an imminent threat to the machine.
    I recently re-watched the Matrix trilogy after many years, and it seems so dated, one dimensional and lame now. The Matrix is a WB production which also creeps me out, but it made me realize, they released it to attempt to define conspiracy culture on their terms, which it did to many of us... it was a high watermark defining ritual.
    We need to define our own culture, and not let mainstream media tell us what or how it is

  31. Phineus Aloysius Absalom Phuckwit11:31 AM, August 02, 2018

    Here's my solution: Other than using the Internet to send my work from home, using it to hunt for books, comics & old records & occasionally stopping by a blog, I avoid the Internet like the plague. Because it is a plague. As far as news goes, journalism died years ago. What passes for news now is poorly researched, poorly sourced, contextless drivel designed for people who don't apparently want to know anything.

    Most humans, sadly, appear to be incredibly weak & needy. They're constantly in search of someone somewhere who will tell them what to do, what to think and how to be "happy." Whatever the fuck that is? American corporations & celebrities and talking heads are all too happy to oblige.

    According to Dr. Kelsey Crowe, America is now suffering from an "epidemic of loneliness,"
    and she plans on battling this by setting up "empathy bootcamps" across the country. More bullshit for a nation of wankers who seem to ache for more & more bullshit to consume.

    Americans feel lonely & empty because they live in a plastic culture that has all the depth of a rain puddle. They're constantly inundated with propaganda telling them that happiness is only one credit card purchase away & money & celebrity are the most important things in the world. Doubt it? Look at the buffoon in the Oval Office. Americans are apparently unable to look at themselves honestly, preferring instead, the myth of America. This way, the citizen never has to dwell too long on America's egregious lies and screw ups. Doubt it? Find some mention somewhere these days about America's last Iraq fiasco that cost over 1,000,000 Iraqis their lives. It's like it never happened. It's like all those pre-invasion lies never happened. The real American "right" that needs to be ensconced in the Bill of Rights is every American's "right" to be entertained 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from the cradle to the grave. The real magic of America is that its citizens are culpable in their own fleecing. And, apparently enjoy it.

    Conspiracies? Geez, I've come to agree with Alan Moore. There are conspiracies everywhere, tripping over each other. Always have been. But if every Internet wanker who spends a myriad number of hours each day sitting on the Internet reading about and babbling about conspiracies would actually go out & do something constructive for their fellow humans with that time, the world might actually get better. I do think it's safe to say that Googling which celebrity is shilling orange underoos or fantasizing that their fat asses are mermaids will do absolutely nothing to make the world a better place.

    Personally I think we're hard wired to kill ourselves as a species. Just like we're hard wired to tell ourselves how noble we are while we're killing each other.

    Time to make the today's version of the Internet go bye bye...

    I suggest y'all do the same.

    1. I miss the "internet as a library" days. Now the new "push" internet puts billboards in the library, blares announcements all day and randomly adds flashy bits to whatever you've chosen to read while an equally random crazy person yells rarely-relevant comments over our shoulder.

      The internet has turned into a place where all that knowledge in the old library represented by the dewey decimal system has been pushed into the corner to make way for all the "donated" crappy entertainment weeklies that used to be mixed with newspapers to make them look slightly respectable.

    2. Yet you are here... Agree with you somewhat, but not so much on the nihilism. Conspiracy/alternative media seekers are the modern day Cynics of ancient Greece. There was no internet or smartphones back then right, yet the similar mindset was there

  32. Seems obvious that QAnon = Steve Bannon

    1. QAnon is too hip to be Steve Bannon, Milo, or any of those people. They think they're hip but they're not. QAnon is someone steeped in 'chan culture, hacker culture, Internet underworld culture, and who has some knowledge of intelligence albeit possibly just amateur knowledge.

      It's probably one primary person working with a small team and being fed information. They could be working on a contract basis as a propagandist. Bannon's team might be paying them but I suspect either the Trump people or the intel community faction that's backing Trump.

  33. 'The X-Files' revivification was simply the entrée:


    (wiki: 'ALF has a cameo in the 2016 Funny or Die parody film Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie as Donald Trump's best man.')

    Also mentioned in the ds pr:

    'In other reboot news, Kelsey Grammer has thrown cold water on the idea of a "soft reboot" of classic '90s comedy Frasier.'

    'cold water'? That's not what's thrown in the hopes of keeping something dormant or inanimate, often times the sensation of said thrown's described as 'bracing'.

  34. Little tip on a story that's still developing:

    I live near Cincinnati, so local news started reporting on this a bit before national. The original screen crawl said someone "shot at a door" in an attempt to get in, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside. Wright-Pat says the active shooter situation was all a misunderstanding.
    Maybe the same way we "misunderstood" all those weather balloons. ^_~ Or maybe there's no more to it then the general, all-pervasive crazy that is 2018.

  35. Re evangelical/charismatic dudes, here's the leader of a megachurch in Singapore. He's also a practicing illusionist and magician. That's right.

    Does he eat mice? I wouldn't put it past him...


  36. I totally agree about the state of conspiracy and objective truth. Its barely got a pulse. I miss the mid 90s. So much possibikity, today cooked into a millenial reduction sauce overseen by vast corporate-deep state nightmares, with more actual conspiracy going on than ever. Hidden, silent, rusting out our structural supports. So yeah, it depressing some days.

    1. These things come in cycles. This reminds me of the 50s, maybe with a touch of the 1890s gilded age. That is not dead which can eternal lie.