Bigfoot: The Life and Times of a Legend

Joshua Blu Buhs, Author . Univ. of Chicago $29 (279p) ISBN 978-0-226-07979-0

This sprightly, if sometimes overblown, study finds the elusive hairy wildman of the Pacific Northwest lurking everywhere. Independent scholar Buhs (The Fire Ant Wars ) skeptically but affectionately surveys the evidentiary traces of bigfoot and his yeti and Sasquatch kin in sightings, tracks, sideshow exhibits and film, but his focus is on the megapod as cultural signifier. To the white working-class men who are his biggest fans, Buhs contends, bigfoot is an icon of untamed masculinity, a populist rebel against scientific elites, the last champion of authentic reality against a plastic, image-driven, effeminate consumer society. (Ironically, Buhs notes, bigfoot's career as advertising mascot and tabloid teaser also makes him a touchstone of consumerism.) Buhs's rote application of race-class-gender theory—”By imagining themselves into the body of Sasquatch, white working-class men could imagine themselves as black, as women, could come in contact with... repressed and forbidden desires”—yields more academic cant than insight; his oft-invoked white proles feel almost as legendary and stereotyped as the creature itself. Buhs is at his amused best when following the exploits of bigfoot's human handlers—the colorful band of true believers, hoaxers and pseudo-documentarists who constructed this greatest of all shaggy-hominid stories. 35 b&w photos. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/02/2009
Release date: 05/01/2009
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