Reality Bites: Finding Bigfoot

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There are a million reality shows on the naked television. We're going to watch them all, one at a time.

To quote Fox Mulder, "I want to believe."

The world, in my opinion, would be much improved by the existence of monsters. And I don't mean asshole monsters like vampires or King Ghidorah, but those that are occasionally referred to as "cryptids:" those creatures who are currently unknown to science. I'm talking about yetis, or lake monsters, or the real murderers of Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman.

So at first blush, Finding Bigfoot would appear to be right up my alley. Too bad the act of sitting through a single episode did more to further my disbelief than a lifetime subscription to Skeptic Magazine ever could.

Matt Moneymaker is the founder of the Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization (BFRO) and has been tracking 'squatches for 20 years. Truly, he is the Javert to their hirsute Jean Valjeans. Also, his last name is "Moneymaker." No word on whether he's related to professional gambler Chris Moneymaker, or which one their parents are more ashamed of.

The rest of the BFRO team consists of Cliff (the "evidence analyst"), Ranae (the skeptic who plays Scully to the rest of the crews' more slovenly Mulders), and "Bobo," who specializes in vocalization whose uncanny resemblance to 30 Rock's Judah Friedlander and unerring ability to see evidence of 'squatches in every broken twig doesn't exactly confer an air of credibility.

The gang heads to Michigan to investigate the case of a rural father-daughter team who claim her car was hit by a piece of wood thrown by a Sasquatch. How do they know? Because evidently the giant primate sort of loitered off in the trees for 20 minutes while she called her dad to come to her location and he spotlighted the surrounding area. Ranae and even Matt are skeptical. Bobo takes in the heavily forested landscape and declares thinks this is "good 'squatch country." I have a sinking feeling we're in Ghost Adventures territory all over again.

Why does the BFRO assume Bigfoots are below human intelligence? If they do exist (there's my Great Pumpkin moment, I realize), they're the only species on Earth that's been able to deliberately avoid detection by humans. Granted, this isn't an Osama bin Laden scale search, but unverified sightings of "wild men" date back to pre-Colonial times. Those fuckers must decompose fast.

.While in the car on the way to a town hall meeting(?), Cliff talks about how Michigan loggers have claimed they were forced to sign some sort of "Sasquatch non-disclosure" agreements in order to work. This is the kind of shit Alex Jones would talk about on his show if he was based in Ann Arbor instead of Austin.

The team meets with a local logging historian to discuss the alleged attack. Matt informs all assembled that, "No other animals except humans and Bigfoots throw things." I'm assuming they edited out his inclusion of chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, and orangutans in the interests of air time.

From there, the BFRO is off to the Houghton Lake town hall meeting. The BFRO team asks for a show of hands of those present who've seen Sasquatches. A couple dozen hands go up, a not unimpressive feat in a meeting of a couple hundred. One woman has recordings of possible "vocalizations," and Matt investigates these on his own while the rest of the team checks out some of the other sightings.

Those who've made the "other sightings" are predictably ambiguous, and about as convincing as any of these people ever are. Bobo sagely describes the remote setting as "good 'squatch country." I have a feeling Bobo could stand amongst the skyscrapers and teeming crowds of Shanghai's financial district and make the same statement.

After all, it's Sasquatch's world, we just live in it.

Matt's deviously clever Sasquatch tracking strategy is to briefly sit in a tree with his nightvision goggles, then exclaiming, "Come on Sasquatch, I know you're out here" in exasperated fashion. This goes a long way towards explaining why he hasn't seen a Bigfoot in 20 years.

The other three members of the BFRO narrow their night search to a likely area, and after attempting a variety of "Bigfoot calls" (I'd love to see the research involved in determing what a Bigfoot sounds like), they do their best to convince each other they're hearing Sasquatch responses. Results: inconclusive, as they have been for the last 2.5 seasons of Finding Bigfoot.

People have been hunting for things like the Loch Ness Monster and the bunyip now for decades with no evidence beyond endless "eyewitness" accounts and other evidence charitably described as "circumstantial." As I've said, I want to believe, but the odds of jokers like Moneymaker and "Bobo" making a signficant discovery are about the same as my getting a private pest control consultation with Dr. Bambi Berenbaum

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