Beauty and Other Myths: (or, Four Things I Want in a Good Scully ep)

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Title: Beauty and Other Myths: (or, Four Things I Want in a Good Scully ep)
Creator: Fialka
Date(s): 1999
Medium: online
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links: Beauty and Other Myths - Fialka, Archived version
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Beauty and Other Myths: (or, Four Things I Want in a Good Scully ep) is by Fialka.

It was part of a series. The author comments that: "Many of these essays first appeared as discussions on OBSSE, Scullyfic and/or ATXA."

The author's notes: "This essay is modified from my answer to an OBSSE post which asked the following question: Since we do make value judgments on XF, what makes for the "best" Scullyep and why? What do your critieria say about you or culture at large, the things we privilege/expect in the representation of woman/women? -- thanks to Bryn, who asked."

The Post, and the Repost

The essay was first posted to The Annotated X-Files Study Guide and is at Fialka's Candybox.

Later, it was reposted:
Sadly, when the old NBCI server went the way of so many really cool, free things on the net, I never could find another free site with enough space to house the whole Study Guide, and it didn't get enough traffic to warrant paying for 250mb on a server somewhere. Not to mention, I no longer have as much time on my hands as I did back then, so like the UFOs...well, it is another UFO. Some of it still appears to be here, if you can wade your way through all the advertising on FortuneCity. I sure won't be insulted if you don't. These essays are from the original site, and appear here unchanged. Unlinked titles got abducted by aliens somewhere along the way. If you find them wandering dazed by the side of the road, could you be so kind as to send them home?


For myself, I'd say that these things are usually present in my favourite eps: 1) We either learn something new about Scully, or get to see a facet of her that we don't ordinarily see. 2) She gets to face some kind of danger, be it mortal or emotional, and triumph by her own action (that last bit is really important to me, though I'm willing to let a few eps like Milagro slide past). 3) Her intelligence is not questioned or cheapened by having her ask incredibly stupid questions or have basic scientific information explained to her just so we can have some necessary but often ham-fisted exposition, and in fact, she gets to give us at least one long, dazzling, *plausible* SRE. And in the shallow end, 4) I like it best if she can do all that while looking yummy. So now that I know what I like, let me question why.
It's often said that XF has an unusually large following of women for a show of this genre. I believe that, but I don't know all the stats, so I don't know how many of the women are there for DD/Mulder. Let's just look at OBSSE: mostly women and we're here for Scully. Let's assume that we're but a vocal, technologically advantaged fraction of the many women out there who watch XF because something about Scully speaks to them. Something about this male creation has touched us as women, and over and over I see posts that say our gaze is not merely about objectification of Scully, of observing her and enjoying the observation, but that we are able to pull something from the depiction of this woman that gives us a talisman we carry through our days.
Physically, Scully was a different woman in the first two seasons, one to which I have a much easier time relating. If it were not for her, I'm not sure I wouldn't find Season 4 & 5 Scully visually intimidating, a Vogue layout with a brain. I don't know whose idea it was to give Scully long nails and ever-higher heels, but in terms of versimilitude, both are ludicruous. They make it difficult to perform her job, and Scully's job is everything to her. She is what she does, because she does nothing else; she has left herself no other source of definition. The glamourised version, while yummy as hell, seems much more a male construct, quite deliberately aimed at drawing in viewers with Baywatch brains.
... I loved Season 1 Scully, loved her ordinariness. She was Everywoman. She didn't have much money, but she tried to look good. She was neat and tidy, if not terribly fashionable, and most of the time she couldn't get her hair quite right. She was pretty enough, more on certain days, in a certain kind of light, but not particularly striking. You had to look for her beauty. You had to want to see it, and when you did, it was always a wonderful surprise. Season 1 Scully told me that I didn't have to be beautiful to have value. I just had to be smart, honest, and work hard. This was a woman to whom I could relate. Though I love to look at Glam!Scully as much as any hormonally challenged male of the species, her transformation from cute little caterpillar to exquisite butterfly has, for me, a certain wistful melancholy. Cut my hair, dye it red, dress me in Armani, I still ain't never gonna look that good. Most of us never will. In a society that insists on holding the Gillian Andersons up to our faces and demands that we -- aging and ordinary -- live up to that impossible standard, it hurts. But from the other side I could say that we as women watched one of ours discover her beauty and learn to own it, without coming to rely on it for smoother passage. And though my end result will never be as stunning as hers, I too can learn something from that.