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Have I Got a Monster for You!: Some Thoughts on the Golem, The X-Files and the Jewish Horror Movie

By Mikel Koven

Abstract

The figure of the golem, the Jewish "mud man," has persisted not only in folklore, but in popular culture as well; not only in Jewish tradition, but in Gentile too; it has inspired not only horror writers, but also scientists, who see in this legend a metaphor for humanity's quest for the creation of life. One particular variation of this story is the focus of this paper: in February 1997, Fox Television's highly acclaimed weekly television show The X-Files told the story of the golem, but with certain new features added. These additions annoyed a number of fans, and they expressed their concerns on the Internet newsgroup, alt.tv.x-files. Not all of the problems identified by these tuned-in vernacular theorists were errors, I think; instead, they point to a number of issues concerning the nature of "monstrosity" and "horror." In this case, those issues are framed within a Jewish context. This paper will begin with a brief overview of the legend of the golem, which, like most folk legends, exists in multiple forms. I hope to demonstrate that The X-Files episode should be regarded as one further variant of this legend. I also outline the objections many of the show's fans had to that particular episode, specifically the variance between The X-Files version and Jewish tradition. Finally, I will say why I feel these "errors" are not mistakes, but perhaps operate to define the monstrous within Jewish culture. "Go ahead … make my mitzvah!" (Dennis Terrell, on alt.tv.x-files

Topics: GR, BM, PN1993
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Year: 2000
DOI identifier: 10.1080/00155870020004611
OAI identifier: oai:wrap.eprints.org:1398
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