Why Slenderman Is the Internet's Favorite Monster
From The Houston Press
If you've spent any time on popular news sites over the past few days, you may have come across the bizarre story out of Wisconsin about a 12-year-old who was stabbed by her classmates. While this is one of those things that are shocking on their own, it's made weirder due to mentions of "Slenderman" by the attempted murderers.
Of course, this led to everyone and his mother racing to explain to a confused general population just what Slenderman is, even though he's had a Wikipedia page since August 2012, had a Fox cartoon made about him, was a monster of the week (kinda) on Supernatural three months back and you can find Slenderman costumes in all reputable costume shops.
Okay, so maybe those references are still a bit obscure -- Supernatural is still a CW show, after all -- but it's still kind of funny watching CNN and the like using the same bits of information from the same sources to pretend they're up to speed on the Slenderman phenomenon. While they can certainly rewrite the same three facts with the best of them, none of them have been able to speak to why the creature is so popular with the Internet.
"Creature" is a very deliberate choice of word on my part. I get why you might be inclined to refer to him as a character, but the reality is that Slenderman is no different from the vampires, werewolves and zombies of popular folklore. Yeah, he's a fictional creature, but unlike the Freddy Kruegers, Godzillas and Xenomorphs of cinema, he wasn't created to push a product. He was simply created, and then the Internet took him and made him their own.
As a creature of folklore, he came along at the right time and, even though Eric Knudsen didn't know it when he posted the first photos of Slenderman to Something Awful five years ago, was just what the Internet was waiting for.
I attribute his continuing success to three things.
Here's everything you need to know about the creepy, mythological demon known as Slenderman (Slender Man):
- Slenderman appears mostly in online ghost and horror stories. The fictional character is described as a tall, thin man with no face and long tentacle-like arms
- The character was first introduced in June 2009 as part of a creepy Photoshop contest. Eric Knudsen submitted two black and white pictures of children playing with the Slenderman character Photoshopped in the background
- After the first photos of the character popped up online, writer began including Slenderman into their horror stories
- According to Know Your Meme, Slenderman preys on children and also has teleportation powers
- According to Hollywood Life, the TV show "Supernatural" based an entire episode on the mythological creature but called it "Thinman" instead. The episode was about a person desperately searching for proof that Thinman existed after discovering the character on the Internet
- There's an iPhone and Android game where players have to get through a creepy park without seeing Slenderman. If the player does spot the creature, their character dies