The Republic Of Cascadia
Bureau of Sasquatch Affairs
A Division of the Cascadian Department of Health and Hominoid Services
Media Portrayal of Sasquatch
Sasquatch kidnaps non-Sasquatch females and terrorizes non-Sasquatch bikers in the 1970 movie "Bigfoot"
The portrayal of Sasquatch and Sasquatch culture in the popular media has been marked by misinformation by the media, misunderstanding by the public, and mistrust by Sasquatch. This is due in large part to media outlets being almost exclusively non-Sasquatch owned and operated, and consequently unwilling or unable to present Sasquatch viewpoints. This in turn has lead to a pervasive lack of understanding of Sasquatch culture and issues by the non-Sasquatch majority - or even outright anti-Sasquatch sentiments. Because of this state of affairs, it is understandable that most Sasquatch view the media with cynicism and avoid them.
It isn't difficult to find negative portrayals of Sasquatch in the media. Most human media references treat Sasquatch as either a source of humor or a source of fear. You often hear in the media jokes about the size of Sasquatch feet - the term "bigfoot" is a popular epithet used to ridicule Sasquatch - or claims that Sasquatch have an offensive smell. Also, for some reason the media like to humorously link the dead rock-and-roll singer Elvis Presley to Sasquatch.
More disturbingly, when not being ridiculed, Sasquatch are vilified as thugs who hurl logs and boulders at human campers or chase after humans while howling monstrously. People are implicitly told that there are "bad parts" of the forests where Sasquatch roam waiting to bring violence upon innocent non-Sasquatch. These types of hurtful portrayals are typified not only by blatant anti-hominoidic literature such as the notorious 1967 screed "Ape Canyon" which purports to recount how Sasquatch attacked a group of human miners - a book which acted as a catalysis for the anti-Sasquatch movement - but also by the more popular "squatchploitation" films of the 1970s such as "Bigfoot" whose tagline "America's abominable snowman... breeds with anything!" instilled a sense of hominoidsexual panic in its human audience.
Whether explicitly anti-Sasquatch or merely ridiculing them, these media stereotypes cause humans to both look down on Sasquatch and fear them, hindering understanding of Sasquatch and Sasquatch culture among non-Sasquatch.
Chewbacca: positive Sasquatch role model or offensive stereotype?
Misinformation about Sasquatch is so pervasive in the media that even when they try to promote Sasquatch and Sasquatch issues, they often do more harm than good. Consider two of the most well-known Sasquatch characters, both from the "Star Wars" movies: Chewbacca and the Ewoks. First off, neither is truly a Sasquatch, but rather fictionalized alien Sasquatch-substitutes. This can be excused as a traditional science-fiction conceit that allows controversial issues to be addressed free from the prejudices of the audience. (However, that Sasquatch issues are controversial enough among the non-Sasquatch audience to warrant this conceit is troubling in and of itself.) Chewbacca and the Ewoks are portrayed with many positive characteristics: Chewbacca is a loyal friend and capable member of the Millennium Falcon's crew; the Ewoks are valiant - and successful - fighters against an evil empire, and have strong cultural traditions. At face value, both are portrayed as heros and positive Sasquatch role models.
However, on closer inspection we can see many negative stereotypes in these characters. Chewbacca may be a friend, but he is still portrayed as a brute who will rip people's arms out of their sockets. He is also in a servile position on the Millennium Falcon, being the only member of the crew under a non-Sasquatch captain. In fact, "Star Wars" creator George Lucas - who has a history of using culturally insensitive characters such as Jar-Jar Binks and villains with British accents - likened Chewbacca to a pet dog; not exactly an exemplar of the liberated Sasquatch. When we look at the Ewoks, things are even worse. While they do manage to defeat the forces of an evil human empire, the portrayal of their battle is obviously meant to be ironic and even comical. The stereotype of the threatening Sasquatch is reinforced when the Ewoks capture the human heros and are about to eat them, and are only stopped by their "primitive" superstition. The Ewoks themselves are comical caricatures of Sasquatch, being shorter than humans whereas Sasquatch are considerably taller. All in all, Ewoks combine the worse forms of Sasquatch ridicule with stereotypes about Sasquatch violence and ignorance.
A patronizing John Lithgow: "Some of my best friends are Sasquatch!"
False media portrayals don't have to be negative to still do harm. "Harry" from the hit movie "Harry and the Hendersons" is typical of another stereotype common in non-Sasquatch culture - Sasquatch as spiritual, Earth-loving, gentle woodland creatures. While no-doubt well meaning, this patronizing stereotype leads to a trivialization of Sasquatch concerns and the complexity of modern-day Sasquatch culture, and relegates Sasquatch to two-dimensional stock characters to be used by non-Sasquatch for pontificating on environmental issues.
Also of concern is the use of Sasquatch as symbols and mascots. For instance, the Seattle Supersonics basketball team has a Sasquatch mascot named "Squatch" who entertains the mostly non-Sasquatch fans with pre-show antics and acrobatics. While this may seem at first glance a form of acceptance of Sasquatch by the human majority, in reality this is merely condescension. Squatch isn't even a real Sasquatch but rather a human dressed up in Sasquatch costume. This "hair face" performance, while amusing to the unenlightened non-Sasquatch audience, is very offensive to many Sasquatch. One has to ask, if the Supersonics and their fans truly care about Sasquatch concerns, why don't they employ a real Sasquatch to perform this role? Or better yet, why not lift the prohibition against Sasquatch players and allow Sasquatch to be full members of the team? While positive Sasquatch-human relations need to be fostered, this won't happen by ignoring Sasquatch issues and pretending that there are no anti-Sasquatch attitudes in non-Sasquatch culture.
Sasquatch tend to avoid of the media - even going so far as to run from any human with a camera - because of these hurtful or condescending portrayals, but exactly the opposite action needs to be taken by Sasquatch if these stereotypes are to be stomped out. Now more than ever, the Sasquatch community needs to actively expose the non-Sasquatch world to positive Sasquatch images and all the variety of Sasquatch culture. With this exposure will come increased understanding of Sasquatch issues and appreciation for the contributions and needs of Sasquatch.