Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Shouldn't Bigfoot Be A Gay Icon?

Why don't more people love Bigfoot? I started telling some friends at dinner the other night about a recent National Geographic documentary about him. My revelations elicited a silent response and blank stares rather than the quickly drawn gasps and clinking of forks dropped onto china in surprise that one might expect. In fact, John felt compelled to clarify that I was the only one actually watching the program; he was just in the same room.

In the documentary we met a Tennessee hill woman with whom a Russian anthropologist was living so he could record her stories of a Bigfoot family who had lived nearby for years. Evidently Bigfoots are more social creatures in Tennessee (isn't everyone?) because now and then one would knock on her back door to borrow a cup of sugar or something like that. She would, of course, politely oblige him proving once again that you can safely bet on Southerners to score above average in the good neighbor department.

The woman's memory was sharp enough that she could reproduce the request while mimicking the creature's voice. In case you're wondering, Bigfoot sounds like Kirstie Alley, only 20 years older and after she's sucked the air from a helium balloon. Hill woman also told how she watched a Bigfoot take a deer down with its bare hands. As she matter of factly described the procedure the Russian earnestly reenacted it using a sytrofoam deer dummy. I feel certain that each night when she retires to her bedroom this woman buries her face in a pillow and laughs herself to sleep.

I think I'm so into Bigfoot, and the people who see them, because I was a child of the 70s when that shaky film footage of Bigfoot crossing a dry forest creek bed was reaching the public. It didn't matter to me that the forest was in Washington state and I lived in Arkansas. Bigfoot existed and all he needed was the sun, the air and some shade trees to make him happy. Surely some of his kind were poking around the Ozarks. Turns out, I was almost right. His swampy cousin was spotted in the bayous and bean fields of Fouke, AR. The Fouke Monster's story was retold with so-awful-its-inspired genius in Charles B. Pierce's The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972). A true story told in documentary form with real locals (heavy on the real), Pierce also managed to patch in what looks like leftover 1960s Arkansas game and fish commission publicity footage and even a bizarre musical score ("Hey, Travis Crabtree...Wait a minute for me..."). If you have any sense of irony, this movie won't dissappoint, but do watch it with friends. I want to have a "Legend of Boggy Creek" party for Halloween this year. Maybe my AR friends will host one at the same time and we can blog the event simultaneously.

The movie isn't really scary though (unless you fear poor editing), and that is because Bigfoot isn't scary. Bigfoot is us, and not just gay folks. No, true icons are meaningful to more than one group of people. Bigfoot stands in the gap (perhaps literally sometimes) for all misunderstood folks who wonder if the world hasn't gotten so crazy that they might be better off living disconnected from society, hidden in the backwoods of Arkansas--where they can get shot, trapped, and clubbed to death in an effort to preserve their species.


Anonymous David said...

I too remember the grainy footage. We used to walk around in our woods looking for "Bigfoot" foot prints. Just an FYI, for many years (might still be there) there was/is a Bigfoot Gas Station and Convenience Mart at the corner of W. Washington and High School Road. On the corner of their lot they have a 7 foot tall green foot. This is of course, located right next to the fireworks and halloween costume outlet. Slurpee anyone? Rotisserie hotdog?

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Karen said...

Troy - Marc & I cracked up on Sunday night, because as we watched the news, a "teaser" came on before the break about a Big Foot spotting. We both looked at each other in disbelief and started laughing. I don't think that news of a siting was what sparked the conversation about BF at dinner earlier that night, but what timing!

12:41 PM  
Anonymous Marcie said...


Firstly, I agree - more people should adore Bigfoot, unfortunatly, you are right...he is misunderstood, therefore, discriminated against.

This was a charming entry...I really enjoyed it and don't know how I missed it when I checked in last week!

I read parts of it aloud to Karen because I was laughing so hard...she feels guilty for having "gasped". :) I guess she's forgiven!

6:39 AM  
Anonymous adam j said...

That home movie of Bigfoot taking a stroll through a Washington forest made quite an impression on me too. I remember another piece of footage as a woman who lived up somewhere in the northwest was recounting being molested by a bigfoot (or bigfoots... which brings up the troublesome grammatical point of whether multiple bigfoots should be called bigfeet) while sitting in her aluminum outhouse, which apparently bigfoots really don't like (either that or they really needed to go to the bathroom). She was reenacting the traumatic event for the filmmaker and showing the dents on the outside of her outhouse. Thankfully, she escaped unharmed, and then decided to invest in some indoor plumbing.

By the way, back in Arkansas, Lance Branstetter once told me that he when he was camping up on Ramsey Mountain once when he was woken up by a herd of bigfoots (bevvy, gaggle?) (Lance, the grammarian that he always was, used bigfoots instead of bigfeet, so I have elected to use this plural form in his honor). Since then he would never consider going camping again.

6:54 AM  
Blogger Troy said...

Well slap me nekkid and hide my clothes. Welcome back to the good ol' U.S.A. Adam! Let me know how long you're here.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a big foot halloween party,sounds like fun,tom c in fl.07

3:29 PM  

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