Sunday, February 26, 2012

Of Slender and Man: Evolution of an Urban Legend


I tend to be stubborn when a new show comes along and sometimes it takes me awhile to come around to the newest thing. Normally I wait for the hype to die down, and let myself discover the series on my lonesome. In this case I finally made my way to a little internet show called Marble Hornets (Links are here and here). What I’ve finally managed to experience is an excellent exercise in the found footage genre, and a show that really taps into the terror of urban legends.

Really at the heart of the series is the urban legend of the Slender Man, who is a fascinating example of evolution of a tale, and how readily other forms of media can adopt things to their purposes. The supernatural creature was first created in the forums of Something Awful in a contest to fake supernatural creatures. The pictures were created by forum member Victor Surge and soon enough captured people’s imaginations and the process of creating the creatures back story began.

"we didn't want to go, we didn't want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time..."

1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.
One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as "The Slender Man". Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.
1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.
The Slender Man has had quite the impressive impact on pop culture, as Minecraft creator Notch has gone on record as saying the Slender Man did influence the creation of Ender Men. Not only that, but there striking similarities between the Slender Man and the Silence from the most recent Dr Who series. Just thinking about this influence is fascinating to me as a writer, as we are seeing the evolution of a story right before our eyes.

An artists rendition of Slender Man next to The Silence from
TotallyLooksLike.com
In the brief time that I’ve immersed myself into the world of Slender Man I’ve come across some very interesting projects surrounding the mystifying figure. One such project was a blog done in Wordpress called Just Another Fool. The blog is used like a Lovecraftian story, detailing the decent into madness of one of the hero’s and another trying to work out what’s happening to his friend. The brilliance of this idea is it operates like a game with people creating identities and interacting with the creators of the blog (ARG is the term I’ve heard, Alternate Reality Game for those playing the home game). Not only does this flesh out the myth of Slender Man but also is a crystal idea of the evolution of story.

The internet is littered with these Slender Man photoshops.
Apart from the fan fiction that has sprung up, there are some people who are starting to believe in the myth of Slender Man as a real thing. I think this is in part to forums that are part of ARG’s. It’s fascinating to see the line blur between reality and fiction for some people, even when there are people who are trying to calm the believers by telling them it’s all a game. One of the more interesting theories I’ve seen is that the Slender Man is becoming real, because he’s becoming more prevalent to pop culture. Yet is it really Slendy (that’s what his friends call him) that’s at the centre of this, or maybe something more wired into the brains of people.

The unmoving figure in the background is a disturbing image, add to that
the forest locale and you have something that can haunt people.
Going a back a little through myths and legends we find various creatures that are similar in look and powers. The Mothmen from the 1975 book The Mothman Prophecies, written by John Keel is a good example. It details the investigation of John Keel as he tries to get to the bottom of sighting of The Mothman in West Virginia. While the creature is more animalistic than the Slender Man, some accounts credit the creature as a large man in a black trench coat and red eyes; the trench coat actually being wings. Whether you believe it or not, it’s interesting to note another urban legend have both the black clothes get up and the mental distortion powers.

The Mothman.
The Mothman Prophecies also details another urban legend that has similarities with the Slender Man, and that’s the Men in Black. First off, no I don’t mean the ones from the movies, while taking inspiration from the urban legend they are far removed from the actual thing, as the Men in Black are seen more as a threat. The Men in Black are people who often come into town, dressed in black suits and ask questions of the locals who often have trouble with their memories afterwards. It’s kind of worrisome how people’s minds are wired to come up with similar stories, even when separated by a generation or two.

A lot of Men in Black fan art depicts them as otherworldly,
with possible alien connections.
Honestly I don’t have any idea why this happens, but it is always interesting as I said before, to witness the evolution of story, myth and how it changes with the different cultures. Having watched as much of Marbles Hornets that is available, I would highly recommend people head to you tube to watch this series as it really does tap into a primal terror. Better yet I would grab the DVD and help support these film makers and at the same time give them a good reason to make Season 3 of the series. Finally if the Slender Man intrigues you get out there and start reading some of the stories people have created, as well as take look at some of the fan art.

Some more of peoples Slender Man work.

17 comments:

  1. I love urban legends, do you have more stories?

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  2. Anonymous8.5.12

    what if...what if they're real...?

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  3. If they're real then i'm screwed as Slender Man seems to come after those who bring his existence to light. As for other stories. I haven't got anything at the moment that comes to mind but I'm sure I can think of something.

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  4. Anonymous4.7.12

    hahaha i love being scared \.O.\

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  5. Anonymous8.7.12

    i was outside and i sware i saw him so i brung my pellet gun out buy couldnt find him im so scared im praying that its not real.

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  6. Anonymous11.8.12

    This scares me. I don't know if it is real and there is eye witnesses along some supporting evidence. Doing some personal investigating I have found many accounts where children saw him or had nightmares about him. There is newspaper reports with eyewitnesses seeIng a pale man in a black suit watching the child. I have my own experiences investing this. It is possible he is real.

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  7. Anonymous2.10.12

    Anyone played the game? It is a great way of understanding exactly what the Slenderman is, plus it is scary as hell.

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  8. Anonymous12.10.12

    Hah I'm at school and it's rainy outside and now I'm a little freaked out. Ohh goodness I love the internet glad this wasn't blocked like almost everything else that is!(:

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  9. Anonymous18.10.12

    ^ Right! :D

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  10. Anonymous23.10.12

    yo give more stories

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  11. Anonymous7.11.12

    I love slender mon

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  12. Anonymous7.12.12

    i think he knows the llorona!

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  13. Anonymous20.3.13

    Slendr Man is real. i actually seen him in my back yard. i did start to gt a bad headache and my stomach felt horrible. There are sightings now about him in MA. I want to look for him but i am kinda scared to as well

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  14. The rumors of my demise have been greatly exaggerated. Slender Man has not gotten to me. But thanks for all the concern. :)

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  15. Anonymous16.7.13

    my friend thought she saw slenderman once...it was a cactus

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  16. Anonymous9.11.13

    I saw him

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