USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘Slenderman’
Digital
Game
Legends

The Legend of Slenderman

Context:

I was hanging out with my friend, watching Invader Zim and playing horror games, when my friend asked me if I knew what Slenderman was. I had heard of Slenderman, of course, but I did not know what exactly he was. So I asked her about it/him.

 

Interview:

Informant: What do you want to know about Slenderman?

Me: Just like; I don’t really know much about it, so first off I guess would be what is it? That kind of thing.

Informant: Well, um, Slenderman is a creature that looks very humanoid in that he has, like, the human body structure, like a head, a torso, two arms, two legs, but is distinctly different in that he has no face, and in every representation he is depicted as faceless. In some representations he is depicted as having like additional tentacles or additional arms, though that isn’t a consistent feature that everybody agrees on.

Me: Okay.

Informant: He’s also said to be very tall.

Me: Okay, like eight-nine feet? Something like that?

Informant: Um. I’m not exactly sure, just like significantly taller than a normal person would be, though some people say that he can change his shape, his size, at will. Um, Slenderman is very fast. He can chase you with unlimited stamina no matter how fast you try to run from him or, um, how persistently you try to get away from him. Like, you can, like, no matter how hard you try to get away from him, if you turn around he’ll probably still be there. Kind of like taunting you in a way. Yeah, like Slenderman is a stalker, and his favorite prey is children, though there have been cases in which people say he has gone after adults. No one is exactly sure what he does with his victims or why he chases them. And Slenderman, as far as his dress, um, is usually thought to wear a black suit with a black tie.

Me: Okay. And how did this phenomenon start?

Informant: It started because there are pictures in which, like pictures that were taken unaware of the fact that Slenderman was in them, but when they were examined later, like a tall, stalkerish, like, faceless figure is seen in the background and these pictures are often of children. One of the better known pictures is of children on a playground and then there is this ominous figure all the way in the background that is just kind of watching them. Like it’s not something that you would notice just looking at the picture, looking at the children, but when looking at the background it’s just like, “when, when did that get there!?”

Me: And then it became a game, online?

Informant: Like the mythos started first, and then people began developing games around it, so the games are inspired by the legends about Slenderman. And there are multiple games, not just the 8 Pages and Arrival which are made by the same person, there are other incarnations of Slenderman.

Me: And Slenderman isn’t noticed in real life, only in the pictures? Like, at first, he wasn’t seen in actuality but just in the pictures?

Informant: Yeah, uh huh.

Me: In pictures taken?

Informant: Yeah.

Me: Interesting. So an invisible stalker guy, who kidnaps children to do who knows what, and no one sees him? Wow. That is freaky.

[Laughter]

Informant: Yeah it’s freaky. That’s why it’s such a successful horror thing now.

Me: Exactly. Exactly. Wow.

 

Analysis:

Slenderman is truly an intriguing urban legend, as it is mainly a digital folklore phenomenon. People do not see Slenderman in real life, it is only in pictures taken that he appears. Furthermore, with the internet boom in the 2000’s, something like Slenderman, which before could not have spread nearly as quickly or as virulently around the, at the very least, American population, as from what I gather Slenderman is a largely American urban legend, as it did with the internet. Also, since Slenderman is largely an internet-based urban legend, it can spread far beyond the borders of America (or wherever it originated from) to nations, to countries worldwide. The legend of Slenderman even, at least to the fanbase, influenced the writers and producers of the British show Doctor Who with the introduction of the race called the Silence in Series 6. The viral spread of this legend via the internet is truly telling of the new media – the worldwide web – that has burst onto the scene and shows how deeply it has changed how we communicate, who we communicate with/to, and what we communicate.

general
Legends

Slenderman

My informant told me about the urban legend of Slenderman, who is a tall, lanky man with extra long limbs that wears a black suit. Slenderman has no face and is very reminiscent of the men in black. The legend of Slenderman is very interesting because he is always seen around children and then after that the children will disappear. The way that she found out about Slenderman was through a youtube series by a channel named Marble Hornets. In the videos, the kid that created the channel explains that his roommate had increasingly gotten crazier while making a student film he called Marble Hornets. While making the film he would get very temperamental and one day he said he was transferring schools and told his friend to burn all the reels of his film. The kid did not what was going on and since he felt bad about throwing away the film reels, he kept them and did not watch them until months after his roommate had left. When they finally watched the reels, the kid realized there were no shots of the Marble Hornets movie, it was all short clips of his roommate; there were also sound clips of heavy breathing. In certain clips, they supposedly see Slenderman and realize that the kid’s roommate feels like he is being followed or haunted.

This youtube series, though fictional, introduced the legend of Slenderman to the mass public. No one actually knows where the idea of Slenderman came from, but there are many pictures online where he is supposedly in the background lurking around. And then, the kids in the photographs have been said to have mysteriously disappeared. Nowadays, my roommate and I often kid around that Slenderman causes the mysterious mishaps in our lives, like lights flickering or mysterious texts that we receive. It seems that ghost stories are always so popular in our modern society. I think that the reason the Slenderman legend might have been made was to scare children into staying with their parents and keeping safe. Supposedly, Slenderman has a hypnotic effect on children like the Pied Piper and kidnaps them that way. If we pair that similarity then with his Men in Black physicality, it is almost like a satirical myth about the secret government and Area 51, a tall man capturing children.

Annotation/Additional Comments: These are current sources for information on Slenderman: http://www.mythicalcreaturesguide.com/page/Slender+Man, http://www.youtube.com/user/MarbleHornets?feature=watch: Marble Hornets is probably the most well known sharer of the Slenderman legend. The Slenderman legend started out from nowhere, but is now so widespread that there are tumblrs and twitter accounts dedicated to him.

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