Slender Man Now Linked to Ludicrous Media Hysteria

I swear this is an actual headline:

KMJKMJ

I spotted that on the website of KMJ, a Fresno radio operation, but the article is circulating far more widely, since it's syndicated by ABC News. (And yes, it was ABC that provided the headline.) Here's the lede:

How do you stay so slender?A fictional horror creature popularized by Internet memes is now linked to three violent crimes.

A week after two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls allegedly stabbed their friend 19 times to honor Slender Man, more real-life connections to the spooky character are emerging.

A man accused of killing two cops and a civilian before committing suicide with his wife in Las Vegas on Sunday often dressed up in costume as Slender Man, a neighbor told KTNV.

And a Cincinnati mom told WLWT she thinks her daughter may have been inspired by Slender Man when she attacked her with a knife in their kitchen, wearing a hood and white mask.

At that point the piece calms down a bit with some quotes from Andrew Peck, a folklorist who's less prone to panicky language. Sadly, not all the coverage since last week's stabbing has had the benefit of Peck's pacifying influence. As Bryan Alexander writes at Infocult, this has become

a fearsome digital media story. Slenderman is a "demon creature" spawned by the internet, according to the Associated Press. An Australian site refers to "an internet horror-cult that almost caused a killing." That's probably the most extreme statement. Fox News dwells on the "internet monster". For NBC and the LA Times the internet meme "inspired" the stabbings....eCanada Now wades in further: "the girls in question became convinced the stories of Slenderman were true and were prepared to make a blood sacrifice of their friend in order to become proxies for the creepy thin man. Their plight is raising concerns about the impact of websites such as creepypasta.com which are the principal sources for information on the paranormal."

For the record: Creepypasta.com hosts horror fiction. Saying it's one of the "principal sources for information on the paranormal" is like calling H.P. Lovecraft the nation's leading authority on the occult.

Granted, the boundary between alleged fact and overt fiction can get pretty hazy sometimes. Duane Dudek of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes how one local TV station covered the Wisconsin stabbing:

on "Studio A" on WITI, [Ted Perry] said the story will "chill you to the bone." But he probably wished he could take back speculation about whether Slender Man "really exists or not, I'm not sure at this point."

If you're not familiar with the Slender Man mythos, you should read Scott Shackford's Reason piece about it, published in the innocent days of 2013, before the monster came to life and started killing people became a media sensation. And be sure to check out the rest of Alexander's Infocult post, which explores how the character's roots in Web-based storytelling give him a particularly creepy feel. "These exist in a deeply social environment, getting shared, remixed, embedded, commented upon, edited, and spread around again," he writes. "There are no clear boundaries around the tale, as there would be for, say, a Hollywood movie or a novel, making the mythos more mysterious. Users participate in many ways, which is how myths and folklore have always spread. The digital architecture speeds up this process and renders both process and results far more accessible than oral stoytelling does. The internet platform or style which made the mythos successful also makes an anti-technology backlash more likely."

Finally, here's an argument that Slender Man has just been misunderstood:

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  • SugarFree||

    Moral panics, the most entertaining of the panics.

    Three Slender Man crimes. I predict this is going to be a very hot Halloween costume this year. It might even surpass in the ubiquitous "overweight Harley Quinn."

  • JW||

    When, oh when, will people start dressing up as the Weeping Angels from Dr. Who and start killing people?

    We could be rid of i09, like that [snaps fingers].

  • SugarFree||

    "Multi-Colored Scarf Stranglings Up 450%"

  • JW||

    For fuck's sake.

    I took a bunch of 12-year old boys trick or treating last year, one of whom was dressed as Slenderman. He kept running into things because the white fabric mask obscured his nighttime vision, but other than that, somehow, we all survived his reign of terror.

  • RBS||

    wearing a hood and white mask.

    I remember a popular horror series with a character like that.

  • Notorious G.K.C.||

    The Democratic Party used to have a whole paramilitary wing dressed in white hoods and masks, what's the problem?

  • Cis Shitlord||

    We aim to pull evil up by the root! Before it chokes out the flower of
    our culture'n heritage! And our women!
    Let's not forget those ladies, y'all,
    lookin' to us for p'tection! From
    darkies! From Jews! From Papists! From Slenderman! And from all those smart-ass folk say we come descended from the
    monkeys! That's not my culture'n
    heritage!

  • cavalier973||

    +1 Homer Stokes

  • Trouser-Pod||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Should the real panic be that we're raising a nation of idiots?

  • AlmightyJB||

    We're also a nation run by idiots.

  • Sudden||

    It's idiots all the way down

  • AlmightyJB||

    Creepy people being interested in creepy things is a far cry from creepy things being responsible creating creepy people.

  • Cis Shitlord||

    Media animists.

  • AlmightyJB||

    I thought that dude also dressed up like Peter Pan.

  • waffles||

    I've always though that slenderman was just an angel of the flying spaghetti monster. It's the dark side of being touched by the noodly appendage.

  • ||

    Slenderman is associated with creepypasta.com, both of which are triggers meant to invoke Pastafarians and the Flying Spaghetti Monster – Slenderman visually, creepypasta by descriptive similarities. These attacks will be blamed on Atheists and Rick Santorum is behind it. Notice the bleached, pointy face; the suit & tie; the gangly, flailing arms: Slenderman is a Santorum creation and these attacks are the kickoff for his 2016 run.

  • TopherB||

    All these stabbings. I think we need a sheath lock law.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Nobody "needs" a knife. Oh wait..

  • ||

    Judging by the many tentacled arms and the suit and tie, I suspect slenderman is actually a representation of the NSA. Sort of in an Agent Smith kind of way.

  • Vampire||

    When is the news media going to report on the violence modern day liberalism (socialism, etc.) needs in order to survive?

  • Spiny Norman||

    A man accused of killing two cops and a civilian...

    A curious turn of phrase.

  • Matthew Cline||

    like calling H.P. Lovecraft the nation's leading authority on the occult.

    You mean he's not?!?!?!

  • Billybobjoe||

    All these kids have Ass Burgers.

    They can't be blamed for anything. They just need hugs and bacon. :-(

    If only we understood more!

    LAWL.

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