Evolution of a Legend
The concept of Bigfoot is a subject of many interpretations worldwide. The primary one, stemming from American and Canadian folklore depicts a beast that is traditionally characterized as a large, ape-like humanoid, and which is geographically associated with the Pacific Northwest of North America. In many instances Bigfoot roams the wilderness and has many strange ways of evading detection by others curious enough to search for themselves.
During the span of it's popularity, there has been heavy and complex debate between true believers and skeptics of the legend regarding the physical existence of the Sasquatch. What is interesting to note is that because Bigfoot is fundamentally an ape-like creature, in theory it would be very difficult to place it on such a separate plane from other ape-like creatures that exist or have existed in real life. Moreover, stories similar to that of Bigfoot are already popular in multiple cultures across the world, some of them even surfacing independently of each other. For instances: other than the Sasquatch, there is also the well known Yeti in Himalayan folklore, the more recent Hibagon of Japan whose rise in popularity can be traced back around the 1970s, and the Yowie of Australia which has also been given the nickname, “Australian Bigfoot”.
As the creature developed a fast-growing presence in popular culture as films, books, games, and so on, what surfaced were many more interpretations of the Bigfoot legend, ranging from feasible to very peculiar as some versions of the legend categorize bigfoot alongside other paranormal figures such as ghosts, zombies, and vampires. In those instances, Bigfoot is sometimes depicted as having supernatural abilities such as teleportation, telepathy, and/or “zapping”, which is it's supposed use of infrasound that would induce discomfort in those who happen to be in its presence. These are among the most controversial areas in the study of Bigfoot.
Given these significant variations, the amount of skepticism and doubt regarding the validity of this particular creature would probably come as little surprise. In this case, it also becomes a matter of debate that some versions of it appear more feasible than others, especially if one were to view it from a scientific perspective. Moreover, many references to the creature surfaced in the form of eyewitness reports which is generally considered a very weak form of evidence.
Caught (Or Not) On Camera
1967 is the year in which one of the most well-known documentaries of Bigfoot was developed. It is known as the Patterson-Gimlin Film, a short motion picture directed by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in which a female Bigfoot was supposedly caught on camera at the film site, Bluff Creek in Northern California. It has been widely cited as being among the most authentic evidence of the creature’s physical existence, albeit remaining a subject of heavy debate amongst skeptics, believers, and analysts in the scientific and technical fields.
Among the most common arguments against the film’s validity centers around it being contrived in its nature, that the “Bigfoot” depicted in the short documentary is actually a person donning an ape costume. As cliche that particular argument seems, as the information goes deeper, it is given more substance. Interestingly, on the Patterson-Gimlin Film page on IMDB, a man by the name of Bob Heironimus was credited as playing the Bigfoot. It also turns out that he has been the subject of multiple interviews among the Bigfoot analysis community, one of the most notable of which appears in The Making of Bigfoot: The Inside Story (145), a nonfiction book authored by Greg Long. Being approximately 6ft in height, Heironimus would appear a very suitable candidate to play a tall humanoid creature as the Sasquatch.
The film practically claimed its place as the foundation upon which a majority of the modern Bigfoot-related research was based, and there was more to come, as in 2001, another recording would eventually surface, and it is also fairly well known in the Bigfoot analysis community. It is known as “Marble Mountain Bigfoot”, and it also took place in Northern California. It is one of the longer footage of what appears to be a tall humanoid creature moving along a distant ridge. Much like the Patterson-Gimlin, it is a popular subject of debate amongst the analysis community of both skeptics and believers, and breakdown videos have also been made to analyze and clarify the otherwise low-resolution imagery to prove that the entity is indeed a Sasquatch or to debunk it.
In the case of both films and most others out there, there is a common problem faced by analysts, that is the aforementioned low-resolution imagery and the limitations to camerawork at the time of their recording, which lends very little details to prove or disprove the authenticity of the content itself. Arguments that could be made in favor of the content’s authenticity can be dissected to reinforce arguments against it, and vice versa, including but not limited to: the appearance and movements of the creature/costume, common forms of photographic imperfections (i.e. blurring, under or overexposure, saturation, etc.) that could be misinterpreted as legitimate details, the location at which the recording was taken, and other factors of similar nature. The same can also be applied to most of the widespread “cryptid sightings” footage which are practically their own category. As long as that is the case, it will generally be up to the person to form their own conclusions depending on which elements they believe have more substance.
Bigfoot is a very notable legend because of the rapid manner in which the creature and the concepts surrounding it have spread and evolved over decades and in modern times. For a significant period of time, most tellings of the creature took place in the form of eyewitness accounts and sightings footage which despite being abundant, are ambiguous and questionable in terms of validity. However, the Sasquatch did in a sense develop a physical presence, having played a part in shaping the manners in which we look at and interact with the modern world.
I’d consider it rather amusing that such a simple concept as an ape-like humanoid creature which would’ve existed as the one missing link between apes and humans, would find itself in a class alongside other mysterious entities like aliens, and ghosts, and other popular subjects of conspiracy theories; however these concepts do have some common qualities because they all speak directly to curiosity, given that it is curiosity that motivates activities like the searches for extraterrestrial life, paranormal activity investigations, and searches for Bigfoot and other cryptids across the globe.
Long, G. (n.d.). The Making of Bigfoot. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Making_of_Bigfoot/ZbuUHIRcEWYC?hl=en
Martin, L. J. (2019, January 13). Marble Mountain Wilderness Bigfoot Sightings. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://bigfootsightings.org/marblemountainbigfoot/
Patterson, R., & Gimlin, B. (n.d.). Patterson-Gimlin Film. Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0191831/
Radford, B. (2012, November 06). Bigfoot: Man-Monster or Myth? Retrieved October 16, 2020, from https://www.livescience.com/24598-bigfoot.html
© 2020 Nimai Raphael