Welcome, one and all, to another OWLS post! If you missed the last one, or you aren’t aware of the group, OWLS stands for Otaku Warriors for Libery and Self-Respect. Basically, we are a group of otaku bloggers who promotes acceptance of all individuals regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and disability. We emphasize the importance of respect, kindness, and tolerance to every human being. Each month, we will look at a specific theme. If you want to know more, please do click on the logo in the side bar.
Now, the theme for June is ‘Pride’. But what do we mean by that? Let’s take a look.
In honor of “Pride Month,” we will be discussing the word, “Pride” and its meaning. We will be exploring pop culture characters’ most satisfying and joyful achievements or skills that they possessed and whether or not these qualities could be seen as a positive or negative aspect in their personal lives and/or society.
So, I’ve written about LGBT issues many times before. And let’s be honest here, most people look at Pride Month and make that connection, because that’s what the month is generally about. I even posted my annual Pride Month article earlier in the month. But, the point here is to discuss pride in its many forms across pop culture, so I’ll be looking at something different. First though, a definition of pride:
“A feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of one’s close associates, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”
In keeping with the run-down above, I’ll be looking at two iconic pop culture characters and what their greatest skills were. So, let’s delve into the world of two of the most famous FBI agents ever: Mulder and Scully.
From 1993 to 2002, The X-Files wowed audiences with its treatment of paranormal cases and conspiracy theory rhetoric. Undoubtedly though, it was the fascinating cast of characters that held the show together, and in particular, the protagonists Fox Mulder and Dana Scully.
What made these characters so wonderful to watch was the way they played off each other in the various different cases, and how their individual skills and qualities drove the way they approached things. But what skills did they utilize? Let’s take a look.
I Want To Believe
For Fox Mulder, his greatest asset is his willingness to believe in the things that many wouldn’t. Be it UFOs, government cover-ups, or all manner of paranormal happenings, he will not brush it off without considering the evidence in front of him. The key there is the word considering though. Mulder never quite hit the point of non-stop rushing blindly into seemingly far-fetched conclusions. Yes, his theories were (like the truth) out there at times, but he does voice doubts during different cases, and he is quick to point out when he thinks something is more in line with what other people see than what the victim or subject of the case sees. Despite this though, it is undeniable that he has an overwhelmingly enthusiastic approach to looking to unconventional explanations for events.
Now, a lot of this stems from two life events for Mulder. During his assignment with the Violent Crimes Unit in the late 80’s, he discovered the X-Files by accident, and began poring over these in his spare time. They fascinated him, and this fascination soon grew into an obsession. Why did this happen? Well, part of it may be an addictive personality. He found something that interested him, and that became an addiction. It may also be due to the other life event that helped shape him: his sister’s disappearance. When she disappeared during their childhood, finding out what happened became a driving force for Mulder. And with no conventional explanations seeming to answer the question, perhaps he felt compelled to start looking outside the box? There are other explanations too. There’s a really good episode of Because Science (shown below) that looks at whether Mulder is crazy. The answer is no, but that his brain may be predisposed to conspiracy theorist thinking.
Outside this need to believe, Mulder also has one other major trait that crops up regularly: his short temper when his partner is involved. There are numerous instances throughout the series where he has let his grief turn to violence, or when threats have been thrown around with reckless abandon. This sounds like a negative trait to have, but it’s really not that simple. Mulder is intensely protective of Scully. This is in part because he has a great deal of love for her. It’s also due to guilt though. Scully suffers throughout the different seasons, and Mulder blames himself for this; she was assigned to the X-Files to keep an eye on him, after all, and follows him willingly into a great number of dire situations.
So, we have a willingness to believe in the unbelievable and a devotion to his partner that can sometimes lead to violence. Are these positive or negative traits in terms of their lives and society at large? Well, that’s a bit of a mixed bag.
Mulder’s openness to the improbable has led to him solving some difficult cases and helping a lot of people in doing so. It also led to him discovering the truth about his sister and uncovering a lot of shady government practices. Those are obviously very good things. At the same time though, conspiracy theorists and believers in the paranormal are often mocked by the general public. In the show, despite having previously been a well-respected and highly regarded member of the FBI, he treated as a dark little secret. Scully is sent down there to watch him and keep him in check. And it’s not just ridicule that he faced either. Attempts on his life, and physical assault were common events, all because he wanted to uncover the truth.
His temper is no better. The underlying causes are positive things. Devotion to someone you love, and a feeling of guilt when it comes to things that you are conceivably responsible for mark him as a good person. Yet his actions are things that are generally viewed negatively. He risks escalating tough situations into something worse, and he suffers a lot of internal turmoil over what happens to those around him due to his quest.
I Believe What I Can See
Dana Scully is in many ways the polar opposite of her partner. For her, her greatest asset is her skepticism. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a highly intelligent person, and that is absolutely an asset, but it’s her ability to try rationalizing things that serves her the best.
Scully was assigned to the X-Files because the higher-ups needed someone to keep an eye on Mulder and apply some scientific reasoning to his theories and conclusions. The idea was to discredit him. This meant that Scully spent a great deal of time at logger-heads with Mulder as to the cause of certain events.
For Scully, science was the key to everything. Aliens, ancient shapeshifters and so on? Unless she could prove their existence, she was happy to disregard their potential involvement in cases and search for a more rational resolution. Whether this meant throwing ideas around or performing autopsies and other tests, her calm rejection of the paranormal meant that the pair were able to approach the cases from all angles.
But was this a positive or negative thing for Scully? Well, there are certainly some positive take-aways for her. Unlike Mulder, her behaviours are seen as the norm by society at large. That not only means that she can avoid the ridicule associated with the other route, but that she was able to build and maintain some respect with her employer.
Having the natural skepticism also helped balance Mulder out. By offering other solutions to cases and adding a scientific basis to conclusions, she helped legitimize the X-Files for some. Having a proof-based background also meant that, while not as open as her partner, she wasn’t adverse to admitting that she simply couldn’t disprove some things.
That’s not to say that being rational in this way was entirely a good thing though. Scully was supposed to prove the X-Files to be a waste of time, but her approach to investigation meant that she did the opposite. This in turn led to her being experimented upon and suffering through multiple traumatic events.
On top of this, it also had a major negative effect on something that had previously been important to her: her faith. Scully, at times, seems to be a devout Christian. At others though, she starts to feel doubt, and she is certainly aware that her normal proof-focused approach to things flies in the face of simply believing. Interestingly, it is this faith that Mulder has the most trouble believing in himself, often treating Scully’s belief system in a similar way to how she treats his own beliefs.
So, should Mulder and Scully feel Pride in their skills and achievements? I would say yes. From professional acclaim to the effect that they have on others, be it victims or each other, they have achieved a lot. Whether that is enough to counter-act the negatives is something for the characters to decide though.
I think that the biggest take away here is that no one achievement will veer be purely positive or negative. Everything we do has the potential to be both good or bad for us as individuals, and other people are so varied that how it is viewed outside our own lives is also going to be varied. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be proud of our accomplishments though.
And so ends this month’s OWLs post. I hope you all enjoyed that. And don’t forget to check out the other posts from this run below!