The Strange Culture War on Bigfoot as a COVID-19 Icon

As the coronavirus pandemic really began to sweep through America in mid-March, Todd Disotell wondered how he, a biological anthropologist locked in his central Massachusetts home, could help others through what turned out to be a long and brutal crisis.

Then the answer hit him: the six-foot tall bronze statue of Bigfoot that his father had given him for Christmas.

Disotell, a well-known Bigfoot skeptic who is nonetheless cordial to many people who believe in and groups who are looking for the legendary creature (s), moved the statue to the side of the road near his house. He then placed a sign in his hand for drivers to read: North American Social Distancing Champion. Every day, for about seven weeks, he traded the sign for a new shabby public health message, like sasq – wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

Disotell wasn’t the only one who co-opted Bigfoot in (nerdy) PSA. In late March, park officials in Tulsa, Oklahoma, introduced the Social Distancing Sasquatch, a pandemic safety mascot. Signs rose in Idaho claiming Bigfoot had tested negative for the coronavirus, and explaining how social distancing had helped him do so. On sites like Amazon, Redbubble and Sasquatch Outpost, retailers are currently selling countless shirts and masks, pillows and mugs, featuring Bigfoot and promoting pandemic safety.

Bigfoot’s emergence as an icon of the pandemic can play a valuable – or at least fun – role in disseminating vital information about the resurgence of the pandemic, public health experts have said. But There is a deep irony at the heart of this trend: Many of those who actually believe in Sasquatch do not buy into the science of COVID-19.

Some even continued to hold in-person conventions, raising concerns from super-spreaders.

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