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Saturday, July 26, 2008

The X-Files: The Geekdom is ... an incontrovertible part of my past

Apparently this past Friday was the opening day for The X-Files: I Want to Believe, and yet I stayed home unaware, utterly bored, and completely overheated in my apartment with sub-par air-conditioning.

The fact that I didn't have the opening day written down on my calendar (and the fact that my calendar is not an X-Files themed calendar) is testament to how long it has been since my days of X-Files obsession. You see, I used to be what is called an X-Phile, meaning a seriously geeky and obsessive fan of the X-Files.

How geeky was the obsession? Well, I taped every single episode from seasons 1-6 (and then gave up at season 7, because that's when Mulder left and the show stopped being good). I took care to pause the recording during commercials for optimal playback conditions. And yes, I did rewatch many of the episodes, some of them more times than I can count. (This was obviously in the days before TiVo and TV on DVD.)

Back then if you described an episode to me, I could tell you the name of the episode and what season it came from. For instance, one day while watching Jeopardy, the Final Jeopardy question asked about the name of an X-Files episode that tells a Frankensteinian type of story. Nobody on the panel knew that the answer was Postmodern Prometheus (or, for extra credit, that it came from season 5). But I knew, and I was pissed that I wasn't on the show at that moment, cause I'd have been RICH!

I could tell you the names of not only Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, but also the actors who played the side characters. (Aside from Mitch Pileggi, I can't remember these names anymore, although the name of the Smoking Man is lingering somewhere in the back of my mind, and it might start with W.) I could tell you who Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz, Clyde Bruckman, and Jose Chung were, and I could tell you the meaning of the numbers Ten-Thirteen, 11:21, and 42.

But most geeky and obsessive of all...

...and I'm very slightly ashamed to admit this, but here goes...

I was a reader of X-Files FanFiction, aka "Fan-Fic", i.e., fiction written by fans about the X-Files characters and storylines. [Insert astonished gasping]

I know, okay? I was a complete and utter nerd, just one step shy of dressing up like Scully and running off to an X-Files convention to celebrate my geekdom (and yes, they did have them, but no, I never went).

But even though I'm slightly ashamed and embarrassed to admit these things, I don't regret being such a hardcore fan. It gave me something to really enjoy doing during the tumultuous teenage years of life when you often don't really know who you are or why life is so worth living. And reading Fan-Fic made me feel a sense of enjoyment about reading. Although written by novices, some of the stories were really well-written and creative. There's a novel length story that I enjoyed so much that I printed it out and read it three more times. I still have it in a three-ring binder on my bookshelf, and you know what? I'd read it again.

Perhaps the most rewarding thing about reading Fan-Fic was the chance to see different levels of writing skill. Most teenagers read only what they must read for school, and what they must read for school usually consists of classic works, all finely crafted. The art of writing seems untouchable when this is all you see. But when you can compare works from fine amateurs with works from lousy writers who should make sure not to quit their day jobs, you can see the humanity behind the craft.

So I don't regret that obsessive geeky time of my life, because I feel like it enriched me as a person. My interest in being an X-Phile waned with the waning of the show's caliber, but I still think fondly of The X-Files.

Now once you are all done laughing at me behind your computer screens, here's a little video of Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny interviewing each other as a promo for the new film. It's actually a pretty funny segment.
 








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10 comments:

melliferouspants said...

Do you remember the episode with the guy who could vaporize through ventilation systems? My sister and I were so freaked out that we slept together that night...just as we were falling asleep our dad started making creepy noises into our vents. Pretty much lost my shit.

Excited to see the movie!

Claire said...

My favorite X-Files episode was the one about the weatherman who was in love with the girl he thought he couldn't have, and his crippling guilt over her boyfriend's "injury" forced him to telekinetically empower the loser as a "rainmaker." Best "dramedy" episode, and it kept things light, without burdening the casual fan (i.e., me) with a lot of mythos and aliens/tortured Fox/will-they-or-won't they? stuff.

Seriously? You read FanFic? I know they fall low on the Geek Hierarchy, but I, too, am impressed by the flights of fancy others have taken with the source material pop culture gives us.

Also, I may have once written an episode of Quantum Leap. Maybe. You can't prove anything!

(Runs screaming into the night)

Ben Sloan said...

X-FILES FOREVER!!!

Though I shall NEVER read fanfic. NEVER.

Sra said...

Pants: Vaporize through ventilation systems... that's either an episode called Tooms in season 1, which is one of the scariest episodes in my mind, or it's an episode in either late season 6 or early season 7 when I wasn't watching as diligently. I want to say it's the latter.

Claire: I used to watch Quantum Leap when I stayed home sick from school as a kid. I remember one episode where he leaps into a pregnant woman's body, but then manages to leap back out at the end of the episode right as she goes into labor. Where's the fun in that?

Ben: Literary snob, eh?

Ben Sloan said...

One time I got all excited about one of the Harry Potter books and thought I'd download a bootleg version, which I did, and it was appropriate length, like 600 pages or so. Anyway, Harry was banging some muggle chick and I was really getting into it, and I was about halfway through when the book actually came out. Rushing out to have my mommy buy it for me, I eagerly flipped through to find my spot and realized ID BEEN READING SOME JACKASS'S FANFIC IMPOSTOR BOOK.

I was scarred! Scarred I tell you! It was that day I decided mankind was poisonous and that fanfic shall never touch my lips again.

So it's not ENTIRELY the fault of snobbishness, though I suppose that does have something to do with it. I'm going to go cry now, as I've relived a horrible experience.

Phil (dad) said...

I'm taken aback that you didn't rush out on Friday last to see the X-Files! Debbie and I did and very much enjoyed it. I always thought it was great fun that you were such an X-phile in your youth and it was fabulous that I could ask you anything about any episode and gleen so much information from you.

Sra said...

Ben: So... you didn't start to wonder when the Muggle banging ensued whether this was actually the next volume in the children's series? ;) You did enjoy it, though. So fanfic can't be all bad, then, right?

Dad: I know, I was a little surprised myself. I will see it soon. It's rewarding to be passionate about something. I enjoyed being an X-Phile.

Phil (dad) said...

I'm taken aback that you didn't rush out on Friday last to see the X-Files! Debbie and I did and very much enjoyed it. I always thought it was great fun that you were such an X-phile in your youth and it was fabulous that I could ask you anything about any episode and gleen so much information from you.

Ben Sloan said...

One time I got all excited about one of the Harry Potter books and thought I'd download a bootleg version, which I did, and it was appropriate length, like 600 pages or so. Anyway, Harry was banging some muggle chick and I was really getting into it, and I was about halfway through when the book actually came out. Rushing out to have my mommy buy it for me, I eagerly flipped through to find my spot and realized ID BEEN READING SOME JACKASS'S FANFIC IMPOSTOR BOOK.

I was scarred! Scarred I tell you! It was that day I decided mankind was poisonous and that fanfic shall never touch my lips again.

So it's not ENTIRELY the fault of snobbishness, though I suppose that does have something to do with it. I'm going to go cry now, as I've relived a horrible experience.

Claire said...

My favorite X-Files episode was the one about the weatherman who was in love with the girl he thought he couldn't have, and his crippling guilt over her boyfriend's "injury" forced him to telekinetically empower the loser as a "rainmaker." Best "dramedy" episode, and it kept things light, without burdening the casual fan (i.e., me) with a lot of mythos and aliens/tortured Fox/will-they-or-won't they? stuff.

Seriously? You read FanFic? I know they fall low on the Geek Hierarchy, but I, too, am impressed by the flights of fancy others have taken with the source material pop culture gives us.

Also, I may have once written an episode of Quantum Leap. Maybe. You can't prove anything!

(Runs screaming into the night)

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