- The X-Files unit was formed by J. Edgar Hoover to maintain control over supernatural investigations on American soil, and prevent the United Nations from meddling in domestic affairs.
- The X-Files program offers the FBI plausible deniability, allowing them to cover up and dismiss any supernatural occurrences, even those that are uncovered by their agents.
- J. Edgar Hoover’s successors kept the X-Files as a scapegoat, valuing the program not for its actual work but for the benefits it provided to the Bureau.
In The X Files, the eponymous subdivision of the FBI occupied a quixotic position within the Bureau – it was continually funded, and kept operating, while its findings were routinely dismissed, devalued, and discouraged from being analyzed further. The dark, bureaucratic truth behind this was brought to light in a canonical X-Files tie-in comic from IDW, which explored the origins of the FBI’s paranormal investigations.
The X-Files: Year Zero – by Karl Kesel, Greg Scott, and Vic Malhotra – revealed that behind all the smoke and mirrors, the conspiracies and subterfuge, there was a very simple, terrestrial reason for the formation of the X-Files unit.
With the comic series largely telling a flashback story, the truth of the X-Files origin comes from the most concrete source possible: J. Edgar Hoover himself.
The X-Files Were Another One Of J. Edgar Hoover’s Dirty Tricks
Hoover Created The X-Files To Spite The United Nations
The X-Files was often at its best when it weaved real-life historical details into its tapestry of conspiracies. J. Edgar Hoover was in fact a nefarious bureaucrat, who during his long career – along with his counterparts at the CIA, such as Allen Dulles – exerted an unquantifiable influence over the direction of American government policy, both domestically and abroad, for the better part of the twentieth century. Despite the X-Files context it appears in, Year Zero’s depiction of Hoover, and his motivations, is a rather grounded-in-reality take on the FBI Director, who proceeds with the X-Files project for several reasons that directly follow from Hoover’s personal interests.
First and foremost, Hoover notes that the United Nations is opening up a similar unit to investigate the supernatural, and Hoover “will be damned” if he’s required to “give those international idiots free reign of [his] backyard.” Whether he sees actual merit in the idea or not, Hoover refuses to conceive of an operation on American soil that he doesn’t have direct control over. By initiating the X-Files program, he ensures that America – and himself by extension – will maintain jurisdiction over any phenomena occurring on domestic territory, even if he is ultimately dismissive of that phenomena’s validity and significance.
The X-Files Provide Plausible Deniability For The Bureau
J. Edgar Hoover’s Successors Maintained The X-Files As A Handy Scapegoat
Hoover also notes that despite “Miss Ohio” – one of the protagonists of X-Files: Year Zero – having a contentious relationship with her father, a U.S. senator, he would “be very appreciative if his daughter’s more active role in the FBI were to continue.” When his subordinate expresses skepticism that Senator Ohio would want his daughter investigating paranormal happenings, Hoover replies, “what they do is irrelevant. It’s what the Bureau gets in return that matters,” indicating that the X-Files value to Hoover and the FBI is not in the work its agents do, but in what allowing them to do that work affords the Bureau.
The X-Files offers the FBI a convenient way to cover up the things that, ironically, the division itself routinely uncovers. Even when the agents of the X-Files discover a real supernatural occurrence, the government can dismiss its validity by stating that it was investigated, and found to have an empirical explanation, or to otherwise be inconclusive. Rather than reality, the X-Files is all about appearance to the upper echelons of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, with agents like Fox Mulder and Dana Scully, or Bing Ellison and Millie Ohio in X-Files: Year Zero perennially caught in a much larger game of power and control.
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