Over Thanksgiving weekend I retreated to the Olympic Peninsula, land of the chainsaw Bigfoot sculpture. Who says there’s no work for unemployed loggers? The sculptures are everywhere—often bulky, hairy monsters, which must be easy to carve. Or occasionally more animated figures like one at Ocean Beach where a smiling wooden Sasquatch is running while toting a surfboard. A surfin’ enigma!
If Bigfoot tends to make himself scarce in real life, he’s alive and well in popular culture --and controversy. America has been said to have entered a “post-truth” era with fake news flourishing on social media. If so, one can expect this new America will be springtime for Bigfoot, a changed climate in which he will thrive.
The recent presidential election did not escape Bigfootism. Not long before Election Day, former presidential candidate and Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee said on Fox News (where else) that more people believed in Bigfoot than believed in Hillary Clinton’s honesty (14% for Bigfoot, 11% for Hillary). That could explain why the Olympic Peninsula went bigly for Donald Trump. No mention, though, of how many people still believe in Mike Huckabee.
Politics also showed up recently in outcry over the University of New Mexico throwing a two-day Bigfoot “event” on campus called “Bigfoot in New Mexico: Evidence, Ecology, and Behavior.” It proved to be hugely popular and involved experts and an expedition into the desert to learn about Bigfoot habitat. Critics decried the fact that $7,000 in public money was spent on it, holding it up as an example of academia’s waste of taxpayer dollars. Critics missed the real question: Has Bigfoot really forsaken the forests of the Northwest to become a sunbird that migrates to the Southwest in the winter?
He may have gone even farther afield. A recent video shot in Russia appears to show a humanoid figure dashing across a winter road. Are we to believe now that Bigfoot, like our president-elect, is a puppet of Putin too?
Perhaps most interesting is the fact that in these troubled times, some are seeing Sasquatch as a uniter, not a divider. At least that was the take of Seattle biologist Ranae Holland, a Bigfoot skeptic, who is featured on the Animal Planet show “Finding Bigfoot.” In a post-election interview on KUOW, Holland said that the “Lessons she’s learned having conversations with people who believe in Bigfoot give her hope that we don’t have to be a divided nation.” Say what?
An account of her remarks continues, “Bigfoot has taught Holland the power of asking questions. She believes that is the only way that people on the opposite side of any issue, whether it be abortion, climate change, or even Bigfoot, can come together.” In other words, Bigfoot just might get Red and Blue, urban and rural, pro-science and anti-science Americans talking to each other again.
Just when you thought the current political landscape couldn’t get weirder, Bigfoot steps in to heal a nation’s wounds.