I Want to Believe
I have a very distinct memory of myself as a kid sitting in my parent’s basement on this crazy fire-engine red carpet watching one of those oversized tube televisions. My older brother and I were flipping through the channels when we stumbled upon a show that described unexplained things and purported real-life monsters. As a kid, the idea of real-life monsters was completely intoxicating and I was immediately hooked. The show was In Search of…. with Leonard Nimoy and the episode was Bigfoot.
The idea of Sasquatch is as old as the hills but it was in the seventies when it really took off. There was a rash of reported sightings in the Pacific Northwest, an unbelievable piece of film shot by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in 1967 and shows like In Search of… that were fueling the Bigfoot flames. Along with In Search of… there were so called documentaries like The Mysterious Monsters (1976) or movies like The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972). All these productions followed the same formula: part wildlife nature program mixed with costumed reenactments of supposed real-life encounters. They all also included ‘the Bigfoot cam’ where we the viewer get to see what Sasquatch sees from a first person perspective as he trundles through the woods pausing occasionally to give out a blood curdling yowl. With those awesome seventies’ production values, I was in heaven.
Trends come and go, and soon television moved on as well, inevitably replacing Steve Austin with Colt Seavers but by this time it was already too late for me, the imprint on my psyche was irreversible. Decades past and ‘the mysterious monster’ kept a pretty low profile, keeping out of sight but somehow always still in my periphery. To this day I’m a big fan of the big guy and right now (lucky for me) he is going through a mini television renaissance. Programs like Destination Truth and Finding Bigfoot are trying to fill those over-sized shoes that In Search of… left behind. The new breed of paranormal reality shows that have to try and scrape together an hours’ worth of watchable material of people bumbling around in the dark has me transfixed again. Bigfoot’s back on TV, kind of – because you never actually get to find him.
All discussions about Bigfoot will eventually lead to the matter of belief. So, do you believe in Bigfoot? For most people it is a matter of proof. For me, after watching countless hours of programs, having read numerous books and blogs I realize it’s not as simple as a yes or no answer. I love the idea of Bigfoot. He is as equally intriguing from both perspectives of his existence and it’s that balancing act that keeps me hooked.
If he does exist, then the kid in me is tickled pink. The kid in me would like to hope that the world still holds mysteries. I hope I can keep an open mind, be considerate to alternative possibilities and not prejudge something because it’s unfamiliar to me. Embracing the idea of Bigfoot is embracing the unknown.
There are some strong arguments in his favour. The strongest being the thousands of eye witness reports from all over the world along with the various footprints found. One of the best presents I ever received was when my wife gave me one of the casts. I have physical evidence of a (supposed) fictitious creature. I love it for its contradiction. The other thing Bigfoot has going for him is that the size of the wilderness he inhabits is absolutely immense. In my younger years, I lived in a small town in the interior of British Columbia. One afternoon I had the opportunity to take a plane ride over the mountains. From the vantage point of the small four seat aircraft you could see for miles and miles and all you saw were trees. The sheer vastness of it was humbling. It is not unbelievable that something could go undetected.
But he doesn’t always go undetected and that is why I also like the idea that he does not exist. This tickles my inner conceptual artist. If Bigfoot doesn’t exist then where are we getting all these photos, stories and videos? In many cases people are projecting their unfiltered beliefs onto an unfamiliar sound in the woods or a cluster of shadows in a blurry photograph. In other instances, people out there are generating the evidence themselves, perpetuating a hoax that has lasted for decades. The more believable images are the work of magicians. (Actually the magicians Penn and Teller created their own film for their television show Bullsh!t which went on to fool a great number of people.) The amount of time, effort and creativity that goes into something of this nature is intriguing. As our technology improves the fakery will also improve.
In the end it’s the mystery that keeps me hooked. I want to believe …..but I hope I never find out.