Folklore, Horror Stories, and the Slender Man: The by Shira Chess, Eric Newsom (auth.)

By Shira Chess, Eric Newsom (auth.)

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Extra info for Folklore, Horror Stories, and the Slender Man: The Development of an Internet Mythology

Sample text

The Slender Man is no exception. As a horror character, the Slender Man is a reminder of current cultural anxieties in a multitude of ways. In this chapter, we explore the many meanings of the Slender Man, acknowledging and considering a spectrum of possible ways of understanding this new monster of horror. While many of the other horror monsters we encounter—vampires, werewolves, and the undead— are familiar and we see them rise again with each new medium, the Slender Man is unique in that he was born in online spaces.

We expect regular proportions of limbs. We certainly don’t expect tentacles. By visually establishing the Slender Man as almost human, but with unfamiliar qualities, Victor Surge and those who followed avoided the overt horrors of, for instance, the gaping maw of a werewolf or the blood-soaked teeth of a vampire, in favor of something uncanny, something more psychologically troubling. There is no bloodletting here—only a discomforting feeling that something is very wrong. Because of the elements of familiarity, humans already somewhat know the uncanny when they encounter it, but can never fully understand it.

In this chapter, we explore the many meanings of the Slender Man, acknowledging and considering a spectrum of possible ways of understanding this new monster of horror. While many of the other horror monsters we encounter—vampires, werewolves, and the undead— are familiar and we see them rise again with each new medium, the Slender Man is unique in that he was born in online spaces. Yet, the Slender Man also has non-digital predecessors. The goal of this chapter is not to define one possible meaning that the Slender Man represents, but rather, to demonstrate the fluidity of this horror character.

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