Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mythological animals aren’t trying hard enough

If you saw Yahoo News this morning, you likely noticed a headline announcing that a rare four-legged creature with a little stumpy horn was photographed for the first time ever in the wilds of Africa. The article went on to say that the creature was so elusive that many thought it was a unicorn. Which led me to raise the pitch of my voice to unnatural heights and say, “Really? WTF?” The sad thing is that I actually said the letters “WTF” and air-quoted a sad emoticon.

In recent months, we’ve had purported video of a chupacabra running down the side of the road, the discovery of a sad, pathetic faux sasquatch and now this lame-ass unicorn. I, for one, would just like to say that these “creatures” are really blowing my faith in magical animals.

First of all, how could anyone call the stumpy horn dude a unicorn? For one thing, he’s tan and brown and EVERYONE knows that unicorns are white with rainbows painted on them. Also, the horn is very, very small, like the thing sneezed and blew a cheese doodle into its forehead. Unicorn horns are huge -- so huge that you can’t even believe they can hold their heads up, like Charlie Brown or Christina Ricci. In fact, I’m convinced that real unicorns walk around like pageant contestants all day, trying not to topple over while muttering, “Oh shit, oh shit, my neck is totally going to break off, why does my horn have to be so magically huge? Why???” They spend the rest of the day avoiding ad reps from Cialis.

And then we had the chupacabra, which looked nothing like the chupacabra portrayed on “The X-Files,” which, as you know, is where I get all my science. Mulder told me a chupacabra was a Mexican goat sucker, which makes you envision is pretty messed up animal with some fearsome heft and a bad-ass persona. What did we get in the video? A Rottweiler with a horrible overbite. So basically, the cop shooting the video was just mocking a dog with bad teeth for mile after mile while the poor animal just kept looking over its shoulder begging the guy to stop until he could find his retainer. That’s not magical. That’s just cruel.

And finally, the sasquatch. Sigh. Doesn’t anyone even try with their hoaxes anymore? You’re going to use a giant ape costume and smear it with possum guts and expect me to be even mildly impressed? At least those decades-old fake videos of the sasquatch running had a little artistry to them, the way the guy paused and looked back, using super-model moves to tease you with possibility. Or those re-touched photos of Nessie? Someone put some effort into those. Nowadays, though, people are just too lazy to even pull off a good stunt and in the process, they’re ruining my magical creature mojo and I hate them for it.

P.T. Barnum knew what it was all about. People like to be fooled. We like to believe that there are wonders we haven’t seen. That’s why, when Barnum sewed fish tails onto monkeys and proclaimed them “mermaids,” people were willing to believe him. He created the illusion and when you put a little effort into it, people will go whole hog* in suspending their disbelief. How else do you explain 50 years of Sea Monkeys?

The next time Yahoo News wants to impress me, it better be with something worth my time: the Loch Ness monster wrestling Godzilla. A production of “Unicorns on Ice.” Live sasquatches forming a human pyramid. Christina Ricci wearing a tiny hat. Why? Because we all could use a little magic in our lives these days.

* Not a reference to Sarah Palin.


kerry (washu) noodles said...

The okapi! I'm glad I clicked the link, since you never mentioned him by name: the okapi! The okapi is my favorite animal.

Liz said...

Really? How cool! He is pretty cute in and of himself. I just don't see the unicorn connection. As a generally cute critter though, he gets four stars.

techtigger said...

They have an Okapi at the philadelphia zoo. They are quite pretty, shy, and remind you a bit of a giraffe (they're not small animals)

But yeah, I was completely crushed when they found dinosaur fossils and eggs that match the statues and descriptions of Griffons. Nothing more than misinterpreted bones. I sooo wanted them to find a live griffon, hiding in some remote himalayan valley, along with all the yetis :)

Anonymous said...

I think that photographers working in Africa are just slackers. How could an animal be so elusive that it's never been caught on film in the wild before, and yet be in my local zoo? The critters are cool with being captured and transported to Miami, but they're just camera shy?