So horror is kind of an important thing to me. I am obsessed with zombie films (a connoisseur of sorts, I would dare say), play tons of horror games (both of the board and electronic variety), read plenty of horror literature, and find a macabre delight in spooky things. I have a strange and delightful tale of an experience I had back in October with the kids I teach and their ideas on horror and Halloween.
I was asked by the English teacher I work with to make a mural for Halloween. I can draw more than a stick figure, and I love Halloween, so I said “sure.” After some rough ideas on small paper, I found an idea that stuck, and I began to draw upon the paper for the mural, some large, 4 foot by 3 foot sheet. I thought a clever idea would be to put a listed piece of paper by the mural asking the kids what creatures and ghouls or what ever else they would like to see in the finished picture. Originally I had the intention that they would draw on the mural themselves, but that proved to be too long of a process, and not every kid would have had the chance to add something, so I nipped that, and left it at the list. It began simply and to the point, “zombie,” “zombie boy,” “zombie cow,” “zombie raccoon” (I sensed a trend, here, and had to put a stop to it when someone wrote “zombie vampire”), but one kid scratched something out on the page, turned, and asked me if I know who “Slenderman” was.
To anyone aged 25 or younger, well done, you may be culturally relevant to either know of, or remember the creation, of Slenderman. To anyone older, I will explain. There has been a sort of cabal within the internet devoted to urban legends, bogeymen, creepy stories, pictures, videos, videogames, audio, any literally anything else, made by the internet solely for the sheer goal of scaring the internet. It’s an interesting community strung across years and any number of websites (take your pick from 4chan, Reddit, SomethingAwful, as most of what becomes popular on the internet comes from one of those three or is popularized by one of them). The creepy stories themselves are typically referred to, conveniently enough: “creepypasta (Older readers: It has nothing to do with spaghetti, “pasta” is a play on “paste,” or the idea that these stories are copied verbatim from one source and -pasted- wherever text can be placed, be it a forum, chatroom, email, what ever else).” “The Slender Man” is one such creepypasta. So sayeth Wikipedia, and yes I will source Wiki for something so simple as the history of Slenderman, it was created in 2009 in a SomethingAwful thread for pictures edited to contain creepy things. It began as a creepy Photoshopped picture, and someone created a story to it. Poof, Slenderman was born. I never used the S.A. forums, but it proliferated across the internet very quickly. I feel I saw it around this time, 2009 to early 2010.
Recently, Slenderman has had a sort of resurgence in popularity from a number of videogames and films based off his strange mythos. I’m not particularly fond of it myself aside from the sort of social aspects of it (rampant popularity after years of tepid interest, the community aspect of its creation, etc), but that’s besides the point. It’s enough to say it has some history in my mind, but it is present enough in the world for a small 6th-level kid from an even smaller Spanish village in the already realtively-remote region of Galicia has heard of it, and loves it. It truly boggles my mind for how wide-spread the internet really is, and where globalization can rear its imposing head.
So snap back to this kid asking me if I know Slenderman. Effectively all of this preceding text ran through my head in a split second, and catching myself in this bizarre reverie, could do nothing but chuckle and say, “yeah, yeah I have heard of him.” He’s in the mural, limboing with some ghosts, much to the delight of the kids “in the know” of Spanish-translated creepypastas.The world really never ceases to astound me in its oddity and interconnectedness. If it passes on a new generation of lovers of horror made by fans for fans, then by all means, bring it on. We’re lacking good horror buffs these days.