“Love turns animal into angel, but also conversely” – Mariana Fulger
The lion’s share of folklore is about sex and death, these historically being the primary concerns of humanity, particularly how to get some of one, and avoid the more unpleasant aspects of the other. Even your classier Greek myths generally detail the dating efforts of the gods, and consequent retribution of jealous spouses. From a practical perspective, these two obsessions are comprehensible as they represent our two great eternal mysteries – how the beautiful girl ends up with the malformed ape (and not us), and what happens to you after you die. It is therefore unsurprising that monsters (the id gone wild in myth) are regarded as prime material for fetishes, in the broader sense of the term, that is as “an object of irrational reverence or obsessive devotion”. Thus, the increasing popularity (given current sales figures and the fact that Moan for Bigfoot author Virginia Wade can makes as much as $30,000 U.S. dollars per month) for Bigfoot erotica is the logical extension of the capacity for folklore to turn to sexual fetish, as it imbues its monstrous protagonists with magical power, even when that magical power consists solely of the ability not to be caught in focus on camera. And chicks dig power, or so I’m told. They are a mystery to me after all. The existence of Bigfoot erotica (and the distinction between pornography and erotica these days appears to be that pornography refers to internet videos for men, whereas erotica is a literary genre geared towards women through inclusion of ostensible, but puzzling romantic undercurrents) has really only raised eyebrows in so far as the amount of money a self-published author on Amazon stands to make if they choose their titles wisely is staggering. Hey, everybody is into their own thing. We try not to judge. Okay, well we actually judge quite a bit, but certainly make an effort not to be obnoxious about it. The funny thing about fetishes is their potential to turn into something psycopathological, which no doubt explains a dubious turn in cultural attitudes regarding Bigfoot towards Spike TV’s Bigfoot Bounty, or as I like to think of it, the $10 million dollar softcore Sasquatch snuff film.
Sex researchers make a distinction between fetish and paraphilia, regarding fetish as simple sexual interest in something atypical (extreme preoccupation with a particular body part, getting turned on by My Little Pony, or a prurient passion for clowns). Fetishism is the relatively innocuous subcategory of paraphilia, that is, the compulsive sexual response to unusual stimulus that is regarded as a psychiatric disorder only if it causes distress to an individual or harm to others. At the extremely pathological end of the paraphilic spectrum we can find that fetishized objects can become targets of violence. “The other form of paraphilia, which attracts great attention psychologically and legally, is erotophonophilia, commonly known as lust murder. This is a murder in which the offender searches for erotic satisfaction by killing someone. A lust murder begins with the obsessions of the offender. The signature component of the crime, that which names it a lust murder, is the killer acting out fantasies with victims and the bodies. The symptoms of erotophonophilia include sexual arousal from killing, an abnormal amount of time spent thinking about killing someone, recurring intense sexual fantasies and urges involving killing” (Gavin & Bent, 2010). We really are disturbed little creatures, evinced by our literature and movies, and we seem to be painfully aware of how the objects of our thwarted desires all too often become objects we hate, seeking our sole remaining gratification through the elimination of said object. This is just a fancy way of saying, if I can’t have it, then I’m going to kill it, or at the very least develop an aesthetic appreciation for pornography about killing it. And this is how we’ve gotten from Bigfoot erotica to Bigfoot Bounty.
Now, I’m not suggesting that Bigfoot Bounty is overtly offering $10 million dollars for the rights to videotape a Bigfoot snuff film in an attempt to achieve sexual gratification. Not yet at any rate. They very clearly are sending their teams out in an attempt to gather physical evidence as proof of the existence of Bigfoot, but the fact that those teams include folks who already claim to have killed a bigfoot or two, certainly raises expectations for a little violence (and isn’t that what we’re really hoping for with all this reality television? We do so love conflict) in the same way we watch NASCAR for the inevitable fiery wrecks. I don’t think we can directly equate a fetishistic fascination with Bigfoot to a desire to see him skinned and mounted on a wall or eat his liver with a nice Chianti, but there are certain correspondences suggesting that the pathway from his sexualization to his murder are not nearly so circuitous as we would like to believe. The link between pornography and sexual violence is hotly debated among psychologists, and is not a theoretical quagmire that I feel qualified to wade into, but the evolution of the cultural symbol of Bigfoot from mythological monstrosity to object of desire to target of lust murder certainly bears some examination. Frankly, I’m just surprised it took this long for it to happen. I guess the physics of sex with Nessie are too complicated and squishy for most, but if they weren’t, we would no doubt be seeing reality television shows that involved depth-charging Loch Ness. Bigfoot was probably feeling pretty positive about his dating possibilities when Bigfoot erotica started selling like hotcakes, but he should now heed Euripides warning that, “What anger worse or slower to abate then lovers love when it turns to hate”.
Gavin, Helen and Bent, Jacqelyn. Sexual deviancy and the sex police. An examination of the religious, cultural and psycholegal antecedents of perceived perversion. In: Sex, Drugs and Rock &Roll: Psychological, Legal and Cultural Examinations of Sex and Sexuality. Critical Issues . Inter-Disciplinary Press, Oxford, pp. 3-12, 2010.