Borrowing, Stealing and Inspiring in Writing: #XFiles impact

I am over a decade late to the “X-Files.” During the time it was on, I was in school,training, performing and touring as a dancer.  I missed a lot in the 90’s with no affordable laptops and smart phones to keep you connected on the go.  Nonetheless, it is a crime to write sci-fi/fantasy and be angling to get on a show as a writer without seeing it.  So my marathon began a few months ago.  Since then, I have been astonished at what has been subsequently used from this show in content, vision, and structure.

First the content. An episode called “Red Museum” talks about injecting cows with growth hormones. It talks about the changing dairy and beef industries. This was in 1995.  It’s only now in 2010 that the magnitude of the problem is hitting mainstream as organic, cage-free, hormone-free, and all the labels telling consumers of what had once been taken for granted: that you are eating what you thought the label says.  Ground breaking and insightful as most good literature and art does, sometimes accidentally, many times merely because the artist was paying attention.

The content also is surprising in how much of the show is mined for future movies and shows. Inspiration I call it because sometimes a theme is introduced, such as reincarnation or the morality of testing on children, that can use further treatment than one episode can do justice to. “Fringe” is the most obvious example, but “Rubicon” is taking up the mantle as well. Whereas government was once so insidious, now corporations have taken up the mantle.

What these shows, and others like them lack that “X Files” had is a good dose of humor.  Fox is driven with the weight of the world on him at times, but he’s also terrifically sarcastic without being cynical, has a dry humor, and is amused at the world as much as at himself half the time. Scully’s push back against Fox with her skepticism allows for exposition of scientific trivia but also provides opportunities for wit and comedic timing. And there’s a great sexual chemistry that developed slowly between them, like in one episode, Fox wipes Scully’s mouth of bbq sauce. Tender gesture. That was all that had to be done to progress them further. Love “Fringe,” but the development of romance and the urgent, desperate need to save Peter from the Other Side felt a bit forced.

In regards to visuals and structure, there are many inspirations. Android’s commercial with the eye reminds me of the eye in the titles.  “Warehouse 13” has endless rows of filed away artifacts that is very much like X-Files’ secret Pentagon room of the cigarette smoking man.  Then again, sci-fi has a language and shortcut of visuals all its own.

I’m going to do more research on this and also see where X Files borrowed from itself. If you have thoughts, leads, or insights, please post them. Would love to read!


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