Unless you’ve been hiding under the bed for the last couple of weeks (and who could blame you) you’ve probably caught the news about the whole “Slender Man” stabbing, and picked up a whole host of other confusing schizzle along the way too, with terms like “creepypasta” being bandied around like that’s an actual real thing.
If you are as confused as I was about the whole thing, this blog post will hopefully help you to get to grips with the terms flying around the internet, their connections to gothic culture, and how two twelve year old girls ended up trying to murder a friend and are about to be tried in court as adults.
While Slender Man and Creepy Pasta have been floating around in cyberspace for some time, they were vomited up onto the world’s screens large scale at the end of May.
On Saturday the 31st May, two twelve year old girls in Wisconsin, USA, stabbed their twelve-year-old friend nineteen times, after inviting her over for a sleepover on the Friday night. The girls apparently took the victim into the woods, pushed her over and pinned her down, and passed a knife back and forth between the two of them, stabbing the victim a total of 19 times.
The two accused, Anissa E. Weir and Morgan E. Geyser, are now being tried as adults for attempted murder; attempted, as against all the odds, their would-be victim survived.
The two accused told detectives that they had been planning the attacks for months, and that they wished to become “proxies” of Slender Man, whom they claimed had been speaking to them telepathically.
This is the bare bones of what is definitively known about the event itself.
Who is Slender Man?
Slender Man is an internet meme created as the result of an online competition to produce a bogeyman figure, and is often photoshopped into everyday images posted with an invented back story about how after the image was taken, everyone in it disappeared or died horribly. The “Slender Man” character is usually pictured in black and white, and is a tall, lean, faceless man wearing a suit, with the assumed power to make anyone who sees him go mad and potentially go on a murder-spree.
Slender Man has a relatively large online fandom, and can also be seen being cosplayed at conventions and comic-cons.
There’s a creepypasta Wiki site that covers Slender Man in-depth, and a large number of websites dedicated to the genre, including sites that hold competitions to produce characters such as Slender Man. Slender Man himself was created on the website Something Awful, by an online artist going by the handle Victor Surge.
What is creepypasta?
Creepypasta is an internet term for viral photos, messages, chain letters and the like that have a creepy or spooky theme, and consequently get copied and reproduced widely across the ‘nets. There is a fair amount of crossover with Goth and fantasy culture, and no doubt many of you will know all of this already.
So the meme, the murder….
Yeah, I‘m having problems connecting the dots too. However, it might be reasonable to assume that two twelve year old girls aren’t necessarily going to have all of the web-smarts in the world, and bearing in mind that they aren’t even in their teens yet, might well have some serious issues with disconnecting fact from fiction.
The Blogging Goth has more to say about this, where she deconstructs the various elements of fiction versus motive.
Added to this there is of course the potential poor mental health aspect of it all, and in fact, a lawyer for one of the accused has petitioned for her to be transferred to a mental health facility. At the end of the day, we can’t even suss out what is going on in the mind of the average Joe, let alone two unbalanced pre-teens who attempt to kill someone because an internet meme telepathically told them to.
So just to be clear, Slender Man is an artificially created internet meme that has been around since 2009 or so, and not the basis of some potentially semi-plausible folk myth or legend.
As Zack Parsons of Something Awful said, “It’s okay to obsess about Slender Man. Well, maybe not “okay” but it’s normal. Internet normal. Okay, it’s bad, but so long as you’re not hurting anyone, it can be tolerated. We don’t want your fandom’s blood on our hands.”