Reporters looking for hot takes about bigfoot erotica keep reaching me on email and twitter, because of what happened on social media over the weekend regarding two candidates in a race for a Virginia congressional seat.
Short version: the democrat, Leslie Cockburn (I am not making these names up, I swear) accused the republican, Denver Riggleman (no, really) of being into bigfoot erotica. The shot came in the form of a tweet showing an image from Riggleman’s Instagram:
My opponent Denver Riggleman, running mate of Corey Stewart, was caught on camera campaigning with a white supremacist. Now he has been exposed as a devotee of Bigfoot erotica. This is not what we need on Capitol Hill. pic.twitter.com/0eBvxFd6sG
— Leslie Cockburn (@LeslieCockburn) July 29, 2018
If you missed the late-2000s, you might have missed that there was a huge boom in bigfoot erotica in the gold rush of the ebook erotica revolution. This was around the same time as the dinosaur porn craze that you might remember, as well as one I’m sure you do recall: 50 Shades of Grey. Writing about getting it on with tyrannosaurus rex, yeti, and space aliens was a gold mine for many until Amazon cracked down on the content (see this pearly-clutchy 2013 article in Business Insider for some details on how many authors were pulling down four and five figures per month: “Monster Porn: Amazon Cracks Down on America’s Latest Sex Fantasy“). The biggest star to emerge from the genre was undoubtedly Chuck Tingle, who has become a media phenomenon all his own. (Meanwhile some of us, ahem, have been writing erotic science fiction and fantasy since the early 1990s, but never mind that!)
The reporters mostly want to know why people are so into bigfoot. I can tell them all the usual things about paranormal romance tropes on bestial sex drives and about how the character who is “taken” by the beast ultimately regains agency by taming him while having had their pesky virginity/sexual hangups/self-esteem problems blown away in the process. I can tell them about how repressed American society is about sex and sexual fantasy and how that makes it necessary to use a fictional monster as a form of escape. I can even point them to a Vice TV documentary about monster erotica. But none of that is new.
I think they’re asking the wrong question. The fact that people are into monster fantasies is completely secondary to the political reality that a candidate is trying to shame another one for what might turn them on. Riggleman claims the book he wrote is a parody of ‘bigfoot mating habits’ and not erotica, but what if it was? Why should it matter?
If Denver Riggleman wrote monster erotica, which harms no one and which is legal and lots of people do it (thousands of books on Amazon), why shame him for it? If you’ve got a real accusation of rape or sexual misconduct, please, bring it to light! But trying to shock and horrify voters with “lookee, censored bigfoot peepee” is just weird. Who is that message for? Conservative voters have proved they care more about keeping democrats out of power than they do about whether their candidates are actual pussy-grabbing adulterers, so they sure as heck aren’t going to blink at bigfoot. Whereas liberal voters support freedom of creative expression and equal rights for sexual minorities. Trying to ridicule someone’s harmless kink is not okay.
The thing is, love it when the Twittersphere is alight with this sort of ‘controversy.’ Why? Because social media chatter about quote-unquote ‘weird’ erotica or sex ends up validating people by letting them know they’re not alone. Whatever so-called fringe thing you’re into, whether that’s monster erotica or a “fringe” political belief, on social media you’ll find the people who agree with you and think like you.
The major media is another story, though. Whenever bigfoot erotica–or even regular ol’ BDSM–goes through a sudden spate of exposure, like with the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon, you will find the media tying themselves in contradictory knots. You know the tone: “haha, book has sold 150 million copies, but how strange since no one is into that stuff!” Obviously more people are into it than they think. What they mean is “no one who matters to us is into this stuff.” This attitude is so damaging because it’s the same attitude they take in the political sphere: “haha, look at these fringe nutballs who think [insert any political position], when no one [who matters] is into that stuff!” The problem with that is there’s such a disconnect between the world the media portrays and the actual reality.
That’s how you end up with extremists taking hold of the GOP and an actual pussy-grabbing serial adulterer in the White House. That coy “haha, how weird” attitude toward Trump’s base meant their power went under-recognized. Meanwhile that same attitude undermines left wing efforts to advance diversity and inclusion.
The media needs to do better at sticking to the actual important issues of our time. So do congressional candidates.
For further reading on the furor:
Vox: “The Virginia House race at the center of the “Bigfoot erotica” controversy, explained“
Washington Post: “Think we’ve reached rock bottom in politics? Two words: Bigfoot erotica.“
Washington Post: “What is bigfoot erotica?“
HuffPo: “Bigfoot Porn Has Become A Major Controversy In A U.S. House Race. Seriously.“