Reporters covering the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide apparently decided that the only way their readers could relate to such weirdness was through comparisons to movies and TV. Some must have used whatever video they last rented, like Todd S. Purdum in the New York Times on March 30: “‘It was one of the most bizarre things you’d ever expect to see,’ Deputy Gacek recalled…with the dead-eyed aplomb of Frances McDormand in Fargo.”

But most resorted to sci-fi references, especially The X-Files. Perhaps we’ll truly understand the events in Rancho Santa Fe when Fox airs the comet-cult movie.

It looks like something out of an old Twilight Zone, with the now-wrinkled old man sitting on what looks like a cheap plastic lawn chair, but manipulated in such a way that there are three images of him, stacked one behind the other.”

–Vincent J. Schodolski and Charles M. Madigan,

Chicago Tribune, March 28

The basic message…sounds like something out of the movie Independence Day.”

–Bob Secter, Tribune, March 28

They were…members of a cult that mixed end-of-the-world Christian-style eschatology with a space alien obsession several steps beyond that on television’s The X-Files.”

–Joel Achenbach, Laurie Goodstein, and Marc Fisher,

Washington Post, March 28

Authorities discussed how the cultists, apparently fans of TV space shows, displayed computer-generated alien caricatures–in the style of The X-Files–throughout the rambling mansion.”

–V. Dion Haynes, Tribune, March 29

Applewhite…speaks a mixture of Christianity and Klingon.”

–Clarence Page, Tribune, March 30

From the tops of their cropped heads to the tips of their black running shoes, these suicidal humans strike us as freaks out of The X-Files.”

–Mary Schmich, Tribune, March 30

All of a sudden The X-Files is starting to look like a documentary.”

–Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times, March 31

So what do we do? Do we take The X-Files off the air?”

–Arianna Huffington, Sun-Times, April 7