Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Book Review: BIGFOOT

Bigfoot, subtitled "The Life and Times of a Legend," is Joshua Blu Buhs' look at the Bigfoot (and to a lesser degree, the yeti) phenomenon of the last 60 years or so. Buhs does not focus on whether or not the creatures exist, although he very clearly seems to believe that the evidence points in one direction, but rather on why the creature gained and maintained a hold in many minds and the significance of that hold. Buhs argues, rather persuasively, that the belief in Bigfoot arose of white male unease and fear over the radical changes in American society from the mid-50's onward, and is that belief is more a function of class identity than anything else--that those who believed and may still want to believe tend to be anti-intellectual and/or working class. Having lived through the heyday of the phenomenon during my adolescence--this was the first time I had heard of the once-ubiquitous Sunn Classic "documentaries" in at least twenty years--this was a rather novel take, and one I, from an adult perspective years later, entirely agree with. Bigfoot the creature has never been found, because it doesn't exist, but Bigfoot the legend is everywhere, from beef jerky commercials to Western festivals, and is not going to go away, because like many working-class motifs, it has been co-opted and rendered harmless by the more highbrow elements of the society.
For what its worth, I did want to believe when I was younger. But the fact that none has ever been found, and nothing other than films and footprints has ever surfaced in the way of "evidence," I have to believe that there is no primate lurking in the forests of the Pacific Northwest. It is like an elephant playing in the snow; if it was there, you would see unmistakable evidence--this is not, after all, a mouse or even a decent sized cat, but allegedly larger than a gorilla. There simply cannot be any population of these creatures still in existence without fur or shit or bones or a carcass or a capture or something coming to light by now.

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