Slender Man

About 7 years ago the website SomethingAweful.com hosted a paranormal image contest. One of the submissions for this contest featured pictures of a very tall, thin man with no clear facial features who was referred to the poster as Slender Man. Slender Man is a human-like creature who is said to stalk people before eventually capturing them. It is said that exactly what Slender Man does to his victims in unknown, but what is known is that, once captured, they are never seen again.

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According to certain sources Slender Man shares characteristics with a number of other frightening figures of legend. One such figure is Der Grossmann, a 16th century malevolent German fairy known to steal children who entered the forest at night. Another such creature is the Clutchbone, a monster spoken of in England who is said to appear during severe thunderstorms and dismember its victims. There is also an Eastern European story of a “Tall Man” who is stated to be a tall nobleman who dresses in black and has many arms. The man puts a woman under his spell possessing her to murder her family. In Japan there exists stories of evil supernatural beings known as the The Noppera-bō and The Mujina who both have no face. Furthermore, there is the Babylonian story of the Alû, a half-man-half-demon who creeps into its victims’ bedrooms at night. Some individuals say that the Slender Man legend has its origins in these tales and there are others who assert that such tales are evidence of one particular creature making its presence known to people all over the world over many years.

Since his appearance on SomethingAwful.com there have been many more appearances of Slender Man across multiple forms of media. Slender: the Eight Pages “is a freeware indie-developed first-person survival horror video game.” The object is to avoid Slender Man while collecting pages from a dark forest. Reactions to seeing Slender Man in the game can be seen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lkUatcq8Yk. The reactions are worth watching lol. Slender Man, the meme, has also been taken on by countless people all over the world. The meme has been utilized in many humorous ways. One such humorous take on the meme is Trender Man, a fashionably dressed counterpart to Slender Man who threatens to take people… to go buy clothes.

Another humorous take on the Slender Man meme features Splendor Man, a human-like supernatural creature who jumps out from the shadows to spread joy to unsuspecting victims. https://youtu.be/tlJ2OEZ1pqo. There has also been a video showcasing what could be the daily life of Slender Man https://youtu.be/p9G4Jg0xCaU.

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The story of Slender Man, and the accompanying meme, has grown so large that it that those in the mainstream entertainment industry have taken note of it and been able to capitalize on it. The popular BBC show Dr. Who featured a character called The Silence based in-part on Slender Man. More recently, it has been rumored that the next season of the FX series American Horror Story will feature a story that revolves around Slender Man. Some sources have said that this rumor is not true but I have seen at least one very recent source that says that it might be. I hope that it is true. As someone who has viewed two full seasons of the show so far I think that American Horror Story would do an excellent job bringing this legend to life.  Even if this rumor turns out to be false the fact that such a rumor even exists shows the power of social media as a medium. The possibility of an AHS Slender Man season shows how social media has enabled something that gained notoriety, simply through regular people communicating about it amongst themselves, can quickly become popular enough for large mainstream entertainment companies to use it a basis for their product offerings. A story such as that of Slender Man would have taken much much longer to reach this current level of popularity back when German people were sharing stories of Der Grossmann in the 16th century.

  1.  http://theslenderman.wikia.com/wiki/Slender_Man_in_Mythology_and_Culture
  2.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slender:_The_Eight_Pages
  3.   http://www.parentherald.com/articles/26141/20160308/american-horror-story-season-6-air-date-plot-lady-gaga-return-angela-bassett-psychic-slender-man.htm

8 comments

  1. Interesting topic. It’s cool to see how old tales that used to passed on from mouth to mouth are now taking on new lives of their own because of social media. It seems like a bizarre story, but it highlights how people and companies can latch onto trends and memes that fill the social media landscape and possibly take advantage of them for their own benefit.

  2. Awesome post. Very funny memes with “Splendor Man” and “Trender Man.” I think this is a very good example of how social media can spread ideas such as Slender man to the point where it has gone mainstream enough to be incorporated into TV shows. I have watched all 5 seasons of American Horror Story and in my opinion seasons 1 and 2 were way better than 3-5. I think Slender Man could possibly make American Horror Story great again if that rumor is accurate.

  3. I was kind of freaked out when I started reading your post, but the implications of the legend are super interesting, especially when framed with AHS and other economic possibilities. Who knew a story like this could be so relevant and effective? What circulates the social world, despite frightening or strange categorizations as this, can certainly manifest itself in concrete reality. Awesome stuff!

  4. It’s amazing how the Internet and it’s users have the power to decide what lives and develops, and what dies. Slender Man is an example of this kind of successful stories that grow and grow until a point where the story stops belonging to an individual and starts existing and growing by itself. There are thousands of examples that develop to a meme. Videos, pictures, texts. What’s the X factor that makes something go viral? No one knows! The Internet works like a huge organic individual, and each of us are like cells. One of us have no power, but the Internet needs all of us to still exist and develop, collective intelligence. Great post!

  5. Cool topic to write about. Last semester me and a bunch of my friends tried to complete the slender man game to no success. It is crazy how something like this has gone viral but there has been a negative consequence of this idea of slenderman. This is actually the only side of slenderman I knew about but it is cool to see that people have twisted it into funny memes. There is a documentary coming out about one of the negative reactions that the public has had. ‘Beware the Slenderman’ is about two 12-year old girls who stabbed their friend 19 times so that they could “be with slenderman” (http://schedule.sxsw.com/2016/events/event_FS19354). It is crazy because it happened in real life and I think it shows the power of social media, albeit in a bad way.

  6. It’s amazing how social media has brought an old legend back to life. I first heard about the figure after hearing about the two 12 year-old girls that stabbed their friend for slenderman, which Mikey provides the link for ^. I remember reading posts by concerned parents who were shocked that their children all knew of slenderman even before the stabbing. It seems impossible for parents to monitor what their children see on social media. A legend that appears to be harmless to college students has has a profound impact on young kids.

  7. Really nice post. Interesting topic. If I recall correctly, a few years ago two teens actually committed a murder and said they were inspired by slender man.

    UPDATE: Apparently it wasn’t as long ago as I thought, but the victim didn’t die. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slender_Man_stabbing

  8. Oh man, I’d heard of the videogame but never really knew where this thing came from. Thanks for the informative post! I think what really stands out about the slender man story is how people turned a literal serial killing, stalking monster into a meme and joked about it. I don’t know, it kind of just makes you think about how humans and society respond to “evil” in the world by making light of it. Gotta love people.

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