With The X-Files back on TV, I thought I’d discuss some of the real world fringe ideas that went into the first episode, “My Struggle.” (Mulder version, because the last episode of this season will also be called “My Struggle,” but apparently about Scully.) After all, the original pilot of the show did claim, “The following story is based on actual documented accounts.”
Obviously, Joel McHale’s character is based on Alex Jones, and last night’s episode repeatedly references Jones’ favorite omni-conspiracy, involving the Illuminati, various civic groups, the New World Order, population reduction, FEMA prison camps, etc. It would take an entire book to cover where all the pieces of this conspiracy came from and how they evolved into their current form, but suffice it to say a lot of the bits came from the Posse Comitatus, a radical right-wing group founded in the 1960s that is the original inspiration for the militia movement. As far as I know the idea of FEMA prison camps originated in one of their publications. The specific plan for the Illuminati takeover of the US that Mulder suggests, with the plan launched on a Friday and all money being invalidated over the weekend, comes from Milton William Cooper’s classic fringe book Behold a Pale Horse (1991). Behold a Pale Horse combined conspiracy threads from the Posse Comitatus and the John Birch Society and added the idea that the Illuminati was really working for aliens, so it’s a big influence on The X-Files in general. Cooper eventually declared he didn’t believe in aliens anymore, so these days the Illuminati/alien connection is most publicly promoted by author Jim Marrs.
Sveta’s abduction experiences, including hybrid fetus being stolen from her body, are pretty much straight from the 1987 book Intruders by Budd Hopkins. Of course, The X-Files has mined that book many times before.
I think most people are assuming that the spectacular flying saucer crash we see in flashbacks is supposed to be the crash at Roswell, New Mexico, but another reference in the episode suggests that, at least in the X-Files universe, Roswell wasn’t an alien event. Mulder says something about the Russians faking an alien invasion in 1947, and I’m pretty sure this is a reference to the Roswell story told in Annie Jacobsen’s book Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base. In that book Jacobsen writes that an anonymous source, one she claims to have the highest confidence in, told her that the real story behind the Roswell incident was that the saucer and its occupants were created by the Soviets, and crashed on purpose in an attempt to make the American pubic panic at the possibility of an alien invasion. The source continued that the “aliens” were children surgically modified by no less personage than escaped Nazi doctor Josef Mengele! The entire story is ridiculous, if for no other reason than the fact that Josef Mengele wasn’t that smart.
So if Roswell wasn’t an alien crash, where did all the crashed flying saucers in The X-Files come from? Mulder mentions the alleged flying saucer crash at Aztec, a far more significant story than Roswell to the early years of the flying saucer phenomenon. The crash at Roswell briefly made the papers in July of 1947, sure, but was instantly dismissed (mostly correctly) as the remains of a research balloon. The alleged flying saucer crash near Aztec, New Mexico was brought to public attention in the 1950 book Behind the Flying Saucers by Frank Scully (note the name!). The story was eventually traced back to a couple of con men selling magic oil-finding technology, but when Roswell was revived as a real alien crash in 1980 it wasn’t long before UFOlogists began arguing Aztec was a genuine crash as well. I’m guessing the crash we saw in the flashbacks is supposed to be this one.
One slight problem in “My Struggle” is that if Roswell wasn’t a real alien crash then Mulder needs to stop saying alien technology was first captured in 1947; the Aztec crash was supposed to have happened the following year. It’s also a little silly to suggest the Soviets faked a flying saucer crash in New Mexico in 1947, and less than a year later a real alien saucer just happened to crash in basically the same place!