There's no Bigfoot?

It's one thing to doubt the existence of God, but this?
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It's one thing to doubt the existence of God, but this?

The Sunday New York Times spoiled my morning. No, it wasn't details of Wall Street's continuing criminality or news of a daycare fire, awful as those are. But rather a book review by Florence Williams of Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend by Joshua Blu Buhs. I haven't read the book, but the premise is offensive: It assumes that Bigfoot ain't real.

Even worse, it assigns the hairy one's popularity to class rage among poor whites in the Pacific Northwest and other rural areas. Says the review: "Buhs's...serious interest lies not in the ape but in the white working-class men who were the beast's advocates, hoaxers, hunters and most ardent consumers." That's right, not only is Bigfoot a fake, he's trailer trash America's way of fighting back against the upper class:

Buhs argues compellingly that Bigfoot'ꀙs heyday in the 1960s and '70s was a difficult time for white, rural men in America. They were threatened by women's rights, civil rights and service-oriented, materialist culture that didn't value working with one's hands or backwoods know-how. Believing in Bigfoot was a way to snub effete, skeptical scientists. Hunting him re-engaged their imperiled backcountry survival skills. And the hoaxers? Well, they were having a laugh while manipulating a hostile consumer culture.

So, Bigfoot is a part of the culture war? A con-job perpetrated by Pat Buchanan voters?

The '60s and '70s weren't nearly as hard on Bigfoot's advocates as they were on the ape himself: turned into a pointy-headed comedic movie character, transformed into an inter-dimensional and shape-shifting space traveler, pressed by a shrinking wilderness increasingly inhabited by people with no sense of mystery or adventure. Bigfoot's no legend; he's just keeping one step ahead of the Twittering masses.

No wonder he relocated to Mars.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.