Scully+Starling: BAMF

22 Aug

You’ve all heard of the X Files, [if you haven’t, here, go educate yourself] how it’s all about UFOs and government conspiracies and that the truth IS out there, but I don’t want to focus on any of those things. No, today I want to talk about Dana Scully and one pivotal character that influenced Chris Carter in writing her- Carlice Starling.

I love Scully- there I’ve said it- as do countless others, not least of all Gillian Anderson herself. There’s just something about her. As a character she’s fantastic- she’s got depth, insight, intelligence; she’s strong and self-assured. She’s a scientist, but religious- living proof [kinda] that the two can live hand in hand- and she doesn’t share Mulder’s beliefs about little green men. She’s also not freaked out by his enthusiastic approach to porn. The perfect yin to his yang.

photo from here

It was only after watching all 9 series of the show, plus the 2 films [Chris, I expect the third one to be released by the end of the year,] before I watched Silence of the Lambs and started noticing similarities between Scully and Clarice Starling [and not least because of their dress sense and lisps/speech impediments/whatever you call it]. And then my heart began to break: was my most favourite character in the whole world ever stolen from this film? Was Scully just a cheap rip off?

Of course not! I watched SotL, all the while falling a bit more in love with Starling and realising that Scully is just Clarice’s big sister.

Starling is still in the academy during the timeline of SotL while Scully has already graduated by the time X Files started airing- admittedly only just- but long enough that she’s been able to put everything she learned into practise; to find out what a dead body smells like [having a medical background helps] and to call bullshit when Mulder goes off on one.
Starling however is still learning- and doing a damn good job of it- she makes mistakes and there’s still some nervousness, innocence and naivety in her [all of which are shown very well during her first trip to see Lector [fuck you Miggs!]] that we never see with Scully. Sure Starbuck gets spooked from time to time but it is outweighed by the number of times she’s been a complete and total badass in horrible situations.

photo from here

Like Scully, Starling is headstrong, methodical and fiercely intelligent. Her profiling is sound [Mulder would be proud] and the way her mind works- and figures out Lector’s little riddle- is brilliant. *cue girl swooning* By the end of the film she seems to be even more sure of herself and have a firm understanding of Lector, how his mind works and is safe in the knowledge that he will never come after her to eat her. Sweet, huh?

Both characters have great initiative and almost brazenly go forth into dark, creepy places by themselves [though in the X Files going into darkened shadowy rooms in some way, shape or form seems to be part of the job description] before ultimately tackling and disarming the bad guy[s].
It’s in the dark that we can see even more familiarity between the two: they become scared. The dark is creepy enough sometimes, but being in the dark with serial killers, perverts and paedophiles is horrific. It’s here that the girls seem to let their guard down and allow themselves to become scared. Bu at least they’ve got their trusty guns and in G Woman’s case, a torch powered by a car battery, to keep them company and to keep a grip on reality.

I’m gonna go ahead and put this out there: Starling doesn’t look like the type to believe in UFOs and aliens. She looks like the kind of person who would need evidence before saying such things existed. Am I just saying this because I want there to be more similarities between the two women? Don’t be silly, I am saying this because it’s true. In Silence of the Lambs, Starling goes over the evidence in order to form her conclusions and ideas. No leaps into the paranormal here, [sorry Mulder]. Just like Scully, who always has an alternative, saner theory to Mulder and doesn’t shy away from arguing with him when she believes he’s gone too far.

One fantastic X Files episode to watch immediately before or after Silence of the Lambs is Beyond the Sea [I swear that song has never been the same since]. This is where shit gets familiar. Both our heroines are faced with overly helpful jailed criminals who seek to help them with their daddy issues. In the X Files, we have Luther Lee Boggs [Wormtounge!] and as we all know, Hannibal the Cannibal in Silence of the Lambs.
Both Scully and Starling have dead fathers, and these hardened inmates seem to be more than willing to help the women come to terms with their passing, almost as a kind of closure for them. Hannibal manages to get information out Starling very easily [even though that other guy said not to tell him ANYTHING about yourself Clarice!] and we soon learn that she, along with Scully feels the need to prove herself to her dead father.
Scully, whose father is recently deceased, comes right out and asks her mum if her dad was proud of her whereas with Clarice [who lost her father at a young age] it’s more subtly implied.

photo from here

To us, Scully has more of a reason to doubt whether her dad was proud of her or not as she’s admitted that she joined the FBI as a form of rebellion against her parents who wanted her to be a doctor. Still, getting into the FBI is a huge accomplishment of its own and it still puts Scully’s medical knowledge to good use. What father wouldn’t be proud?!
Both fathers were strong authority figures- Mr. Scully in the Navy, Mr. Starling a local police officer- which is maybe why our leading ladies have chosen the careers they have. That in order to prove themselves to their dads they need to show that they can maintain a successful career in a similar field. For Clarice, we can also understand that it’s also a chance for her to feel close to her father, to do the same job and stand for the same things as he did.

As for working surrounded by men, well. What can I say? They’re women in a tough working environment surrounded by males. It’s gonna be a bitch from time to time, but our girls handle it wonderfully. Mainly by not giving a flying fuck. Oh my god one of the first scenes when Starling gets into the lift with all those guys. Break the status quo Clarice!

photo from here

Chianti, anyone?

On another note, is it just me or is it really weird like, REALLY WEIRD, whenever anyone calls Scully ‘Dana’? Especially when Mulder does it in Beyond the Sea. The actual fuck?! Likewise with Mulder and ‘Fox’. IT’S NOT NORMAL!

PS- I’m almost certain that I now want to write a post about Mulder’s neckties. They’re so flashy.


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