“Not Only Human” - an X-Files vid by Killa and Laura Shapiro
by Tisha Turk — University of Minnesota Morris
January 29, 2008 – 05:03
One of the most common subgenres of vid is the character study, in which vidders illuminate characters’ emotions or motivations, revel in their charms or foibles, or simply distill the essence of their appeal. Most character studies have a strong persuasive component: the vidder argues for particular interpretations of characters and their places within source texts—interpretations that may align with a show’s canon, revise that canon, or even contradict it. In “Not Only Human,” Laura Shapiro and Killa use character study to reimagine a show’s premise: Dana Scully becomes the focal point not only of the vid but of The X-Files itself. In the show, Scully’s scientific approach to aliens and the faith that occasionally conflicts with it are most often presented merely as foils for her partner’s pursuit of the supernatural and extraterrestrial; even her cancer is, arguably, portrayed as a chapter in Mulder’s story rather than a story in its own right. The vid reconfigures these elements to place Scully, rather than Mulder, at the thematic center of the show. This reconfiguration is clearest in the song’s chorus; “not only human” signals both the alien and the divine, refusing to choose between them: Christ’s heart, the alien organism seen through a microscope, spaceship lights, crosses, ambiguous backlit figures, lights at the end of dark tunnels. But “the light that’s always on” is the light not only of faith or of alien ships but of Scully’s own scientific inquiry, her intellectual work, her agency, beginning with her passage through doorways and continuing in her translation of alien symbols into chemical compounds and her investigation of her own blood. “Not Only Human” thus constitutes one of the many feminist re-visions in which vidders have engaged over the last thirty years.