The cable news networks, newspapers, and radio talk shows are declaring that Bigfoot is dead. Well, Ray Wallace did die on November 26th. Now comes the Wallace family’s “confession” and display of fake feet allegedly used by Ray Wallace to hoax the 1958 Bluff Creek discovery of large tracks, which led to the media naming of “Bigfoot.” The confession is all over the papers and airwaves. Never mind that the original Jerry Crew cast doesn’t match the Wallace fake foot. Never mind that we all knew Wallace was a prankster. Never mind that Wallace wasn’t able to put one over on any of us in 44 years. The media is constructing a new world of Bigfoot myth making in December 2002. We would be foolish to ignore that this is, however, for the moment, a media-driven traumatic event to serious Bigfoot studies.
It began with an obituary and a reporter’s talk with a grieving family. What happened next was a flood of badly written items, flowing forth faster than the speed of your cable modem. The original Bob Young/Seattle Times words was hastily and harshly rewritten by wire services and electronic outlets, facts were minimized to make sensationalized copy, and outcomes have melted Ray Wallace’s alleged 1958 hoaxes and family films into his being responsible for the 1967 Patterson-Gimlin footage (even though that was never said).
Why is the testimony of an admitted liar, now being feted by a skeptical magician as the truth, having the newspapers believe it all? The media mixing of the lies and rumors with a few facts in the Wallace story is pushing this one to the edge. This is Ray Wallace’s ultimate hoax and bitter seed. But we’ve seen it before. Events tend to occur, which restore equilibrium.
In 1999, three separate theorists appeared with notions about why the Patterson-Gimlin film was a fake and spoke to the media of the demise of Bigfoot. And yet, the next year, more sightings of and positive press about Bigfoot occurred than in recent memory. Remember how Grover Krantz’s death on Valentine’s Day 2002 was handled appropriately, and a few pro-Bigfoot articles appeared?
The media will naturally look for some balanced reporting in the coming weeks. The Native traditions cannot be ignored, and the old reports and evidence (pre-1958) will get more discussion. Time will tell, but ask yourself, what will happen when the next sighting series takes place? When the next new large primate is discovered? Or, heaven help us, when the next serious Bigfoot researcher or dedicated Sasquatch hunter dies?
Look at all the pro-Bigfoot books coming out in 2003. Bigfoot! contains a whole section discussing the pros and cons of Ray Wallace’s pranks, written before all of this recent “awareness.” The book puts Wallace in context, and points out the serious history for Bigfoot before Wallace came along. I know of two other books later in the year. Bigfoot books, documentaries, and motion pictures will be openly discussed in 2003-2004. Someone will attempt to capitalize on the “Wallace hoax,” but a book length treatment will fail on its lack of merits – and names – that link Wallace to the real history of Bigfoot.
Look at Christian Spurling’s 1991 “revelation,” which the media called a “deathbed confession” (even though it was given two years before he died in 1993). He said the 1934 “Surgeon’s Photograph” of one of the Loch Ness Monsters was only a toy submarine made with plastic wood (although that material didn’t exist in 1934). The British papers declared, “Nessie is dead.” Debunkers forgot to talk about the second photograph and more. The cracks in the “deathbed confession” slowly began to show, thanks to investigator Richard Smith and others. And the 1934 photographs were never that important, except as an icon, anyway. Is Nessie alive? Apparently.
Is Bigfoot really dead?
Not by a long shot. Ask yourself, why is this a big story? Because the media knows people are interested and curious about the subject – not because they can be spoon-fed hoax stories and believe them.
Bigfoot lives on.