The X-Files is generally acclaimed as the television cult hit of the 1990’s. The pilot that aired in September of 1993 introduced FBI agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully. Together the two work to uncover the truth behind unsolved cases that defy normal investigation, the cases that the government has buried or ignored, labeling them the “x-files.” The two agents are wonderful examples of modernism and post-modernism world views.
First in order to understand the reasons Scully and Mulder portray the two world views, we must understand what modernism and post-modernism mean. Modernism was the era that was dominated by Freud and Marx, a belief that humans are purely material machines, a belief that we live in a purely physical world and nothing exists beyond what our senses perceive. Modernists believe that people should be rationalistic optimists and depend only on the data of their sense of reason. Scully strongly displays the modernist world view throughout the show even after the two agents have been through many fantastic adventures. In the show as a whole there are modernist aspects because both Scully and Mulder are truth seekers. The shows motto is “the truth is out there” so this produces a strong concept of truth. However the show as a whole is very post-modern because it questions the modernist world view with its themes. It is interesting the show continually suggests that “the truth is out there” but it is hidden under many different interpretations and perspectives. Post-modernism rejects the modernist ideals of rationality, virility, artistic genius and individualism, in favor of being anti-capitalist and scornful of traditional morality. Mulder strongly displays the post-modern world view.
Scully is the modernist in the show, she is constantly doubting Mulder and always making a new plot or rationalization for what is happening. Scully often makes fun of or laughs at Mulder’s insistence of the existence of the supernatural or paranormal. Scully values science and rationality and even though the events seem to be unbelievable she never gives in and believes in Mulder’s theories. The main reason Scully was assigned to the x-files project was because she was a skeptic, they trusted her to write a clear scientific analysis of the cases. In the pilot Mulder asks Scully if she believes in extraterrestrials, she replies with “Logically I would have to say no. Given the distances need to travel from the of reaches of space the energy requirements would exceed a spacecraft’s capabilities “. Mulder then comes back by saying “Conventional wisdom…” . Scully and Mulders dialouge is a helpful tool to help recognize the two agents worldviews. Another good example of Scully’s modernist world view is when she says “what I find fantastic is that there are any answers beyond the realm of science. The answers are out there you just have to know where to look.” Scully believes that the truth is out there but through her perspective they are found through science and conventional rationality. Even when Scully cannot explain the amazing events that keep happening she is still faithful to her rational side and says to Mulder “just because I can’t explain what I saw, doesn’t mean I’m going to believe they were UFO’s”.
Mulder displays an obvious post-modern worldview throughout the show. In the pilot when Scully goes to meet Mulder there is a poster on his wall with a picture of a UFO and the words “I Want to Believe”. Throughout the show we see that the first opinions that Mulder forms are those that consist of some kind of supernatural explanation. Mulder wants to believe, he is open to new ideas and he asks the question “when convention and science offer us no answer might we not finally turn to the fantastic as a plausability?” Mulder is constantly questioning Scully and her modernist world view. In Mulder’s case he believes “the truth is out there” but when science fails to find the truth he is willing to look to the supernatural for explanation.