The X-Files Turns 21

I can’t believe it was 21 years ago The X-Files premiered! When the show first aired (in 1994 here in the UK, when I was 12) I actually didn’t watch it. As I said in my article for Transformative Works and Cultures I was skeptical about the series:

I read Asimov and Bradbury, was interested in “proper” science fiction, and was determined to be a parapsychologist when I grew up. This series was bound to be inferior and paint us nerds in a poor way. But I watched it, and I was hooked.

A couple of years ago, after I moved house, I found a diary I kept at the age of 12. Inside I’ve painstakingly copied the Boyzone logo, my favourite band at the time, written poems based on Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings and written stories about two FBI agents called image Mulder and Scully. The diary is covered in quotes and taglines: I want to believe; the truth is out there; trust no one; and I scrawled the logo on the front of my school books. I collected books and posters, and my grandmother bought me membership in The X-Files fan club. My early relationship with the series, then, was one that many fans will recognize, but as I have grown up so too has the way I view the show and what it means to me.

My love of the series moved beyond a love of the characters and storylines into a deeper, and more affective, investment. I joined fandom and wrote fan fiction (on the BBC Cult message boards to begin with), and in doing so I connected with other fans. One of the image entries in that diary reads: “mam said The X-Files is just a TV show. What does she know?” Nineteen years later and I’m writing a PhD about that TV show. The obsession I found in the early 90s has done little to subside; instead, it’s developed into a critical fascination with the series and its fans, and a lifelong love.

Because of The X-Files I’ve made new friends, travelled to different countries and met my idols. Because of The X-Files I’m getting a PhD, have presented papers at international conferences and am published in journals and books. Because of The X-Files I’ve gotten through the death of my grandparents, survived severe depression and helped other fans (friends) along the way. And all of that needs much, much more than image a blog post to examine. But at the same time, it also needs much less. I am a fan. I might be lots of other things as well, but a fan one of the primary ways in which I identify myself. On a daily basis I think about, talk about and interact with fandom in a variety of different ways, and honestly? I can’t imagine my life without that.

So here’s to The X-Files, friends, fandom, and wanting to believe.

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