INTRODUCTIONS: A Mind Shaped By X – Kelechi Ehenulo

Kelechi Ehenulo invites us to explore a mind shaped by X…

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Sometimes I try to imagine what my life would be like without The X-Files. But then I hopelessly give up as I realise how integral the show has been.

My X-Files journey started back in the early 90s. I was eight years old and it was by pure accident on how I discovered it. I was channel surfing, looking for something to watch – anything to delay going to bed early and thinking about Monday morning and school. Back in the day, we didn’t have the luxury we have today with a carousel of never-ending channels at a touch of a button. Nor did we have Netflix. If you didn’t have Sky, most of the UK population had to settle with four standard channels. Yes, you read correctly – four channels! On this particular day at this particular moment, I settled on BBC 2.

My first impressions were instant. I remembered being completely fascinated. The haunting music, the compelling story and the whole aura of conspiracy and paranoia drew me in. The one chilling and defining moment that I always remember is the scene where the Cigarette Smoking Man is walking down a corridor. The camera pulls back, slowly revealing that the secret room was within the Pentagon. It was a moment reminiscent of the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.

So what made me like this show? It was the idea of powerful people and secrets hidden away from public knowledge. It was the idea of control. Whilst the pilot episode was primarily told from Mulder and Scully’s perspective, a beautiful balance of a believer vs. a skeptic, this one scene showed what they were really up against, laying the groundwork for an epic journey into the unknown.

It was fun growing up in the 90s when The X-Files was around. So mesmerized by the impact, I would run home from school, just to get homework done early so I could focus all my attention on the new episode. Back in the day, there was no BBC iPlayer. You had to be in front of your TV screen otherwise if you missed it, that was it. No repeats, no do-overs. Soon enough I began recording episodes onto VHS tapes. When the DVD collections came around, I collected them too. Slowly but surely, The X-Files started to take over pop culture.  I would walk into a local shop and see X-Files magazines or something sci-fi related dominating the news stand.

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I would read books about aliens and the paranormal, just so I could keep up with all the theories mentioned on the show! I would chat about Mulder and Scully’s investigations with friends at school as the school playgrounds became infested with alien eggs (and the conspiracy that they could become pregnant and give birth if you put it in the freezer) and Tamagotchi’s – both were confiscated if teachers caught you with it!  Soon enough, the appeal of The X-Files spread to the furthest depths of TV to the point where you couldn’t escape it.  You either saw shows inspired by The X-Files or shows taking an investigative look into the paranormal and science, just like Future Fantastic which aired on BBC 1 and was hosted by Gillian Anderson!

Over the years I’ve collected my fair share of memorabilia.  My bedroom wall used to be covered in X-Files posters (although I did have a space reserved for Will Smith).  I also possess a Mulder key ring, a Krycek bookmark, both soundtracks from the first movie, comic books and novels.  Now I may have grown up and lifestyles may change, but if there’s one poster that proudly hangs on my wall – the I Want to Believe poster.  It’s amazing how four simple words can define a character and the show itself by becoming a reminder of never giving up and always keeping the faith.

But my love of the show went to deeper levels. The X-Files helped shaped and defined my love of sci-fi. It brought out the inner geek in me, opening the gate of seeing the world in a different way. I grew up watching shows like Star Trek and Doctor Who, galactic space adventures that captured my imagination of distant futures. Yet The X-Files took the opposite approach, grounding itself in reality by making the paranormal and the weird closer to home. Episodes were deliberately left open, allowing the audience to go beyond the series and debate the consequences. That concept and certainly some of the episodes kept me up most nights. I was scared beyond my wits because I never encountered something like this.

Yet despite that, I kept coming back. Whether it was the mythology or a Monster of the Week, the mystery and Mulder and Scully’s investigations constantly intrigued me.  Whilst nothing lasts forever and the show had its fair share of ups and downs, from the first episode right through to the end of its original run and the two films that followed, I remained a faithful and loyal viewer.

Right now it’s an exciting time to be a fan again. With news about Season 11, it will be interesting to see where Mulder and Scully’s journey will go. I’m also excited being part of the X-Cast blog because it’s not every day you get to talk about something you love with a passion!

Favourite season: Season 5

Favourite character: Mulder and Scully – just love them both, it’s hard to choose between them.

Kelechi will be a regular contributor to the blog. You can follow her on Twitter @geekminduk.

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