tive establishment began parroting the ridiculous claim (firstrnmade, I believe, by Bill Buckley) that throughout the Cold War,rnHollywood never made any anticommunist movies. WhilernThem! can stand on the strength of its story, the ants can bernseen as American communists, establishing cells (nests) inrnwhich new agents are trained (queens are hatched), to go forthrnand repeat the process until the entire country has been conquered.rnIn a more general sense, Them! also represents the beginningrnof an “Us” versus “Them” theme in science fiction. In the earlierrnmad scientist films, the villain, by definition, operatedrnalone. But as the Red Scare swept the country, Hollywoodrnplayed upon fears of a united communist movement, comingrnsoon to your town and, perhaps, to your family. By the time ofrnInvasion of the Body Snatchers (1956), the anticommunist allegoryrnwas so thinly veiled that even a Yalie could see through it.rnInvasion of the Body Snatchers also provided a new twist onrnthe “Us” versus “Them” theme. Nathaniel Hawthorne hadrnplaced the devil in the wilderness, and in movies like Them!,rnthe threat arose from isolated areas like the New Mexico desert.rnWith Invasion of the Body Snatchers, made at the height of thernsuburban exodus in America, the devil took up residence inrnsmall towns. Throughout the movie, the hero keeps repeatingrnthe mantra, “If only we could get to the highway.” To escapernfrom the small town, where one’s neighbors are no longer whatrnthey seem—that way lies salvation. As Americans moved intornsuburban isolation, as the real organic community structures ofrnsmall towns and cities were replaced by artificial “communityrnorganizations” like Rotary, the boundaries of “Us” began torncontract, first to the family and, over time, to the individual. Itrnis no coincidence that in Ray Bradbury’s masterpiece, The MartianrnChronicles, the aliens first appear as residents of a smallrntown. Those who have read the story, or seen the superb TwihghtrnZone adaptation, will recall the horror of the ending, whenrnthe truth is revealed.rnPerhaps more than anyone else. Rod Serling explored therncontracting boundaries of “Us.” Serling was a small-town romanticrnwho never really felt at home in Hollywood. Longing tornreturn to his hometown of Binghamton, New York, but feelingrnthat he could never go back, he transferred his love for smallrntowns and his alienation from them to the television screen.rnFor this reason, the Twilight Zone episodes focusing on smallrncommunities are among the most terrifying stories Serling everrnproduced.rnWith the waning of the Cold War, science fiction writersrnhad to find a new “Them.” Television shows like TwinrnPeaks took the fear of small-town neighbors to the extreme,rnwhile a spate of urban sci-fi/horror movies—often featuringrnmonsters from the sewer—made it clear that the cities weren’trnsafe either. Even the suburbs took a beating, with one theme inrnparticular—the happy suburban family that turns out to be arnband of cannibals—predominating on both television and thernsilver screen.rnBut during the 1980’s, at the same time that President Reaganrnhad supposedly restored trust in government and in bigrnbusiness, a growing distrust of their power—and especially ofrntheir collusion—began to creep into science fiction films.rnSigourney Weaver may have had her hands full with the creaturesrnof Alien, but the movie’s real enemy was the militaryindustrialrncomplex that wanted to study and use the aliens forrnits own evil purposes.rnGovernment, in other words, had become “Them,” reflectingrna popular belief that our political leaders are at best out ofrntouch with the average American, and perhaps conspiringrnagainst him. It was in this climate that The X-Files first appearedrnin 1993. The show had three strikes against it before thernfirst episode ever aired: it was on the Fox Network; the leadrnactor and actress were unknown; and Chris Carter had announcedrnthat the show would feature alien encounters. Criticsrnpromptly panned it, predicting that it would not last a fullrnseason.rnIt is in its fourth season now, and just beginning to hit itsrnstride. While The X-Files was never quite what its detractorsrnclaimed—a monster, alien, or freak-of-the-week program—itrndid cover a lot of traditional sci-fi ground in its first two seasons,rnand the aliens could be relied upon to show up at ratings time.rnAlmost imperceptibly, however, a change has taken place.rnFBI Special Agent Fox Mulder and his partner Dana Scullyrnnow encounter fewer and fewer supernatural or extraterrestrialrnforces, and an increasing number of human threats. Aliensrnhave taken a back seat to government conspiracies. In fact,rnrecent episodes have suggested that most—if not all—alienrnabductions are a covert operation of the federal government,rnperpetrated against its own citizens.rnIn one such episode, “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space,'” arnnovelist interviews Agent Scully about alien abductions. As thernstory unfolds through a series of flashbacks, we are treated tornthe usual alien spacecraft, gray aliens with big heads and eyes,rnand “men in black” who show up after the encounter to intimidaternwitnesses. But gradually, a different picture emerges. Underrnhypnosis, one of the “abductees” realizes that the “aliens”rnthat examined her were actually Air Force offtcers, and that herrnmemories of the event were hypnotically replaced by—as onernsinister government agent says—”the usual abduction rigamarole.”rnAs she recovers her memory, she realizes that the alienrnwho told her “this is for the good of my planet” was really an AirrnForce officer saying “this is for the good of my country.”rnMulder later finds an Air Force pilot wandering half-nakedrndown a country road. The pilot tells a remarkable story of AirrnForce officers, dressed in rubber suits that resemble the classicrngray alien, flying advanced surveillance craft. When Mulderrnasks him why the Air Force would go to such lengths, he explains,rn”The enemy sees an American recon plane, they startrnshooting. They see a flying saucer… they hesitate.” What thernpilot never addresses, however, is the identity of the enemy.rnAfter all, the “UFOs” are flying over American soil, and thern”abductees” are Americans. When one of the “men in black”rnlater appears to Mulder, he leaves no doubt who the governmentrnconsiders the enemy to be: “Some alien encounters arernhoaxes perpetrated by your government to manipulate the publie.rnSome of these hoaxes are intentionally revealed to manipulaternthe truth-seekers who become discredited if they disclosernthe deliberately absurd deception.”rnSimilar themes run through another episode, “Musings of arnCigarette Smoking Man.” The man in question, whom Mulderrnoften refers to as “Cancer Man,” is the figurehead of therngovernment conspiracy. Since the early 60’s, when he was recruitedrnby the military to assassinate JFK in the wake of the Bayrnof Pigs, Cancer Man has taken it upon himself to protect thernUnited States from the threat of communism. He murderedrnMartin Luther King, Jr., when King urged blacks to withholdrntheir support (and their bodies) from the war in Vietnam.rnJames Earl Ray, like Lee Harvey Oswald, was a patsy; CancerrnMAY 1997/21rnrnrn