In the beginning of things men were animals and animals men. ~ Algonquin saying

"For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons." ~ The Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Friday, August 2, 2013

Giant Bug Zappers, Daisy the Goat, and Devil Dog Stew: Mountain Monsters

     Seriously. The mountain men monster hunters of Destination America's Mountain Monsters show built a giant 'bug zapper' trap to capture Mothman. Then they set up lit torches along a path -- all this in the woods -- to lure Mothman to the trap. A bit later, the torches were found re-lit, burning unattended. Why, Mothman must have done it! Because, the mountain monster hunters insisted, those torches were put out!
     Three things disturb me about shows like this. One, the arrogance of the "investigators." Armed, tromping around in habitats, disturbing creatures just for the hell of it. They'd tell you, no doubt, that it's no mere joy ride, they are indeed chasing after mysterious -- and often dangerous -- creatures, which is very important business. The assumption however seems to be these mysterious creatures are inherently evil and deserve to be trapped, harassed, placed in captivity, and possibly killed.
     Two, in their lust for chasing down non-human beings, they are generally disrespectful of the environment. It's their personal monster playground. Hell, they almost set the place on fire in the Mothman episode.  Building giant traps and luring would be monsters -- simply ridiculous. I assume they get permission from various authorities; Fish and Game, etc. before constructing their contraptions. (The website has a disclaimer about not attempting to build traps yourself, and getting permission from authorities.)

Ulisse Aldrovandi,  Italian illustration.

     Exploiting animals for para-tainment; like Daisy, the poor goat used as bait. Now, Daisy, we were constantly assured, was not going to be harmed. But imagine Daisy's freaked out mind, and how can we be sure that something unpredictable could happen? Can these armed mountain monster hunters move fast enough to protect Daisy from a fast moving predator -- "monster" or not?

     Food porn is another aspect of these kinds of shows.  On the Mountain Monster section of Destination America website, there is a recipe for 'Devil Dog Stew':
'Ever wonder what a Wampus Beast tastes like? How about the Ohio Grassman? All this hunting for fearsome creatures on Mountain Monsters got us wondering...what would you do with a trapped mountain monster? They might be kinda tasty, no? We decided to find out and it turns out, mountain monsters make delectable meals. Here is a recipe for one such creature.'
     Of course I don't believe real devil dog meat -- or, hopefully, any kind of dog -- is the main ingredient. The point here is the appeal to the gratuitous, the titillation.


     Three, the fact that these shows are popular is disturbing.  Mountain Monsters isn't the only program that relies on entertainment, and ignores facts and data. For example: Mothman is not a giant moth with evil intent, akin to a malevolent version of Mothra, as the producers and actors in Mountain Men would have us believe. When it comes to the unexplained, including Mothman, producers have their own agendas. They then set out to find willing participants who will partake in their made-up monster scenarios.
     Not to say that shows exploring UFOs, cryptids and other anomalous topics can't be, or shouldn't be, entertaining.  With all programming, not matter the topic, producers have their agenda, and editing is brutal. But some do attempt to present a deeper look into whatever phenomena is being explored. Shows like Mountain Monsters are gratuitous and are not concerned at all with authentic cryptid research.