Does everyone remember The X-Files?
When the show launched, I recall it as one of the most anticipated television launches of the 1990s. It set off a host of successors and a science fiction genre that had previously been limited to the futuristic worlds of Star Trek and Star Wars.
Everything was a conspiracy. The show's motto? "Trust no one".
Ever since The X-Files, people seem to be getting more and more paranoid. The Watergate scandal of the Nixon Whitehouse - that was an actual conspiracy. If you believe aliens have been here on earth, then the governments must be hiding it, and therefore, also an actual conspiracy.
Cartoons about Mamata Banerjee? Um, no.
Conspiracies are being implied in the UK currently with the Leveson Inquiry into press ethics and practices, particularly suggesting that every meeting between journalists and politicians is somehow proof of grand orchestrations of power-wielding madness. Mostly, newspaper owners are just trying to keep themselves afloat and deliver profits for shareholders.
According to Mamata, newspapers are part of the conspiracy in West Bengal too.
In the US, home to all great conspiracy theorists, Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio sent the head of his volunteer "Cold Case Posse" and a deputy - paid by taxpayers - to Hawaii to investigate the alleged forgery of President Obama's birth certificate. Hawaii confirmed, to Arizona's secretary of state (who is also co-chair of Mitt Romney's presidential bid), yet again, that Obama was born in America.
Most "birthers", as they're called, likely have a tinge of racism but are also driven by an intense fear of communism/socialism/maoism/etc. that they attribute to Obama and the Democrats.
Mamata too sees everything as a Marxist/Maoist conspiracy.
On that front, there can be some understanding because she has faced threats, assaults, and overall significant challenges to unseat the Left from power after three decades. However, paranoia does not alone a conspiracy make.
Most media have picked up on Mamata's Washington Post interview, particularly her belief that Hungary, Korea and Venezuela are all out to get her.
Part of this may simply be misdirection - an attempt to blame lack of progress in West Bengal on its enemies, rather than a leadership vacuum.
But the rest may be deep-seeded paranoia, the likes of which is increasingly common in a post-X-Files world where you "trust no one" and see everything - conspiracy or otherwise - as revolving around you.
In The X-Files, Mulder was the paranoid one who saw himself at the centre of everything. Dana Scully was the scientist and skeptic who tried to keep her partner's feet on the ground (until she was abducted of course).
A drunk Mulder tells a barmaid in first X-Files film: "I'm the key figure in an ongoing government charade, the plot to conceal the truth about the existence of extraterrestrials. It's a global conspiracy, actually, with key players in the highest levels of power, that reaches down into the lives of every man, woman, and child on this planet, so, of course, no one believes me. I'm an annoyance to my superiors, a joke to my peers. They call me Spooky. Spooky Mulder, whose sister was abducted by aliens when he was just a kid and who now chases after little green men with a badge and a gun, shouting to the heavens or to anyone who will listen that the fix is in, that the sky is falling and when it hits it's gonna be the shit-storm of all time."
Mamata certainly has the Mulder factor. But she is trying to apply reason and logic to her leadership, like Scully - a logic that keeps leading back, in her mind, to everyone being a potential enemy. She needs a proper Scully to say, "It's not a conspiracy Mamata".
Mamata's problem, if she continues to be Mulder without Scully, to focus on conspiracies and not the real world problems of West Bengal, is that people will eventually apply The X-Files motto to her.
The "no one" of "trust no one" will include Mamata.
First Published On : May 24, 2012 17:39 IST