Back and forth on Bigfoot
Brian Switek’s Laelaps blog ran an appreciative review of Joshua Blu Buhs’ Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend last Monday, noting the book’s cultural analysis that seeks to understand the how and why the beast has sparked such unflagging interest amongst the American public.
As Buhs explains, the most devoted of the Sasquatch devotees appear to have been “white working class males.” According to Buhs, during the social upheaval of the sixties and seventies, these men gravitated towards the myth in response the perceived threats of consumerism, civil rites, and feminization.” For them, writes Switek, “Bigfoot often represented the elusive vestige of ‘true’ masculinity that could only be found in the wild.”
But as time went on the myth of Bigfoot—once a symbol of resistance towards the establishment—was appropriated by mainstream consumer culture and employed, as Switek writes, as “a desexualized symbol used to purvey goods from beer to beef jerky.” And with that one might think the story of Bigfoot mania would have come to an end. Yet, two men in rural Georgia announced last summer that they had killed Bigfoot and drew instant, feverish attention leading to more than 1,000 news stories worldwide. And for further evidence that the myth is still a hot topic in some circles, check out the lively discussion on Switek’s blog (including several posts by Buhs). Here’s an excerpt from a true believer:
Although I’m not going to be suckered into buying and reading a book that is so completely misleading, I think it is time to recommend that Joshua [do] better “research” before he makes such unfounded, speculative conclusions. Like others writers who clearly approached this topic with a rather shallow conclusion in mind, anyone who thinks this subject is perpetuated by social needs, rather than persistent direct sightings and encounters with these animals, is a fool.
To which Buhs eventually replies:
My book is not about eyewitnesses, the evidence for Bigfoot, or the evidence against Bigfoot. I state my skepticism about Bigfoot’s existence at the beginning of the book because that seemed like good form.
But the question I ask is, Why all the fuss?…
There are many legendary creatures which don’t get nearly as much attention—sea serpents, for example, haven’t captured the American public’s attention. There are plenty of reports of them in Lake Champlain, Ogopogo, and elsewhere. They are inherently interesting—gigantic creatures living in our midst—and yet they haven’t generated a lot of buzz since the late nineteenth century.