It’s raining men, hallelujah!
He’s a manly man, said Chris.
A real guy’s guy, according to Frank.
A man’s man, noted Gillian.
All we need is ‘Marlboro man’ and ‘macho man’ and we’ve just about covered all the testosterone-heavy adjectives available to describe the new character to The X-Files, John Doggett.
Overlooking the fact that the similarity of description speaks of a script being followed, and disregarding - for the moment - that each utterance usually follows a ‘he’s different from Mulder’ preamble, its obvious Special Agent John Doggett is being touted as the ultimate he-man FBI agent. Add the ‘protective’ role Doggett is apparently playing to Scully, and the inspired reversal of traditional and boring male/female roles that Chris Carter created in Mulder and Scully has been lost.
Scully, meet Doggett.
Jane, meet Tarzan.
So Chris wanted a he-man. No big hairy deal… and no pun intended. Philes aren’t new to the concept of a ‘manly’ man on the show. If Mulder wasn’t always stereotypically perceived as such due to his sympathetic and empathetic nature, and his tendency to believe, then Skinner was a more than suitable stand-in for the testosterone factor. Broad chest, gruff manner, marine background… what more could a girl or guy ask for? (Not a lot, according to one guy I know <g>)
But perhaps that is the point. The appeal factor. More than just a manly man, Doggett has, in Gillian’s words, ‘the kind of edge’ of an ex-cop. Which makes you think NYPD Blue. Which makes you think Homicide. Which makes you think perhaps Chris is seeking the audience he always thought he had… the young, male Phile who cares more about the action than the reaction. Who will be there for the stories, rather than the characters.
Because despite the stats, the fact is the majority of X-Philes have always been women. Age may differ, but take a poll of the online community – better yet, just hang in the email lists and newsgroups – and you’ll see who the core audience are, who the fans are creating the websites Fox likes to FOX (as the saying goes), who the writers of fanfic are. Sure, there are male philes out there. But they are hardly dominant in numbers.
No, the core X-Files audience of today are definitely women, and they have travelled the journey primarily due to the characters – because of Mulder and Scully. Oh, sure, the stories are important. Where would the show have been without the excellent tales of Colony/End Game, One Breath, Grotesque, Home, The Unnatural… just to name a few? But what made each of these episodes so enthralling was largely the actions and reactions of Mulder and Scully, as so brilliantly and uniquely portrayed by David and Gillian.
So why does the appearance of he-man Doggett matter?
It doesn’t, really.
Until you go back to the point where all those statements of his manliness are riding on the back of comments of him being different from Mulder.
Said it before, say it again, why does the promotion of one character have to be at the denigration of another? Why are the people who provided the outline of a character, which David Duchovny breathed life and soul into, so quick to dismiss the wonderfully unique and positive traits of their creation? You would think they would be grateful to have played such a significant part in the development of one of the most significant and remembered characters of television history.
Or is it because Mulder developed into something they did not forsee? Did Mulder, perhaps, become more than they wanted? Did they lose control, and now they want it back desperately? Perhaps that explains the formulaic ‘guy’s guy’ approach.
So then you ask, why does it matter if the Mulder character is to be exited from the show? Afterall, those who don’t care for the new guy can move on. And no doubt they will.
Well, it matters from a historic point of view. It matters because the same people who are making such disparaging remarks about Mulder in what they are not saying, who are re-writing Scully as a believer needing protection, are the same people who are writing the exit of Mulder. You have to wonder – and worry - how it will be handled if they think so little of the character they have created.
Their perception is everything.
In a very recent article in the L.A. Magazine, Chris Carter was quoted as saying of Scully:
"She was the stick in-the mud, the anchor that kept everything from marching off too far into the paranormal."
You think, Chris? You really believe Scully prevented it going off too far in the paranormal? Did her presence change the basic fact that in most cases the paranormal explanation was the correct one? Did her looking for – and encouraging her partner to look for – the ‘scientific’ rationalisation give lie to the presence of the Tooms’, the DPOs, the black oil and the aliens… or the abduction of her partner?
Nope. Not one iota, Chris. And while it does not undermine Scully’s importance in all of this – and her role was important - if you believe that she stopped the paranormal slide, it’s no wonder you believe Mulder wasn’t a manly man. We’re obviously watching different shows.
And it’s no wonder, therefore, we worry about your idea of a dignified, just and respectful exit for Mulder.