Slenderman Controversy Continues

Posted by: Nick Redfern on January 31st, 2015

Woods 2008

My latest Mysterious Universe feature is on a strange entity that began as an Internet meme in 2009, and which, many believe, strode right out of the domain of fantasy and into the real world. Its name: the Slenderman.

The article isn’t an overview of the phenomenon, however. Rather, it highlights a Slenderman-type encounter that occurred specifically before the phenomenon began, something which leads to a notable question:

Did the 2009 creation of the Slenderman meme create a Tulpa-like, living equivalent? Or did a real, earlier Slenderman exist before the fictional one was looming on the horizon?

The encounter in question was published (and takes up a whole chapter) in my book, There’s Something in the Woods, which was published in 2008, one year before the Slenderman phenomenon began. So, there’s no chance that the witness could have been influenced by the Slenderman tales, since they hadn’t even begun when the book was published. Plus, the incident itself occurred in 2001, no less than 14 years ago.

The article starts like this:

“You may have seen the recent publicity given to a story coming out of the U.K. of sightings in and around Britain’s Cannock Chase woods, of something described as looking like the legendary ‘Slenderman.’ It’s a fictional character created in June 2009 by Eric Knudsen (using the alias of ‘Victor Surge,’ at the forum section of the Something Awful website), who took his inspiration from the world of horror fiction.

“The Slenderman (also spelled as Slender Man) is a creepy creature indeed: tall, thin, with long arms, a blank (faceless, even) expression, and wearing a dark suit, it sounds almost like a nightmarish version of the Men in Black. While there is no doubt that Knudsen was the creator of what quickly became a definitive, viral, meme, people have since claimed to have seen the Slenderman in the real world.”

See also: Slender Man Seen On Cannock Chase

Nick Redfern About Nick Redfern
Punk music fan, Tennents Super and Carlsberg Special Brew beer fan, horror film fan, chocolate fan, like to wear black clothes, like to stay up late. Work as a writer.


7 Responses to “Slenderman Controversy Continues”

  1. Fhqwhgads responds:

    It’s hard to take a clear photo (not hoaxed) of a delusion. It’s hard to take a clear photo (not hoaxed) of a Tulpa. Delusions don’t leave bones. Tulpas don’t leave bones. Delusions originate in the mind of the believer. Tulpas originate in the mind of the believer. Am I leaving anything out?

    “[Tinkerbell’s] voice was so low that at first he could not make out what she said. Then he made it out. She was saying that she thought she could get well again if children believed in fairies.” We all heard that story growing up. Most of us, at around age 4 or 5, were persuaded to clap so that Tinkerbell would get better. That’s a lot more belief than “Slender Man” ever received, yet the evidence for the actual corporeal existence of Tinkerbell and the other fairies is elusive, to say the least.

    If cryptozoology toys with the idea of a tulpa — with no evidence that they actually exist and no plausible physical mechanism by which they could possibly be generated — it will be all the harder for it to be accepted as anything other than a looney pseudoscience at worst or an eccentric hobby at best.

  2. springheeledjack responds:

    Interesting enough. So are we in a case of the “chicken and the egg” scenario? It’s quite possible the “new” slenderman mythology was based on with that account or others similar in nature. Or perhaps, has the idea of slenderman worked its way into our consciousness?

    There’s been a lot of investigation into the “mass or global mind” of people and what that contribution to the world at large is. Whether fact or fiction, if enough people believe in something, in a sense it becomes “real.” Superstition in general hasn’t lasted centuries because it was false, so to speak, but because people come to live with a superstition as fact. It may be a self fulfilling prophecy if you will: you’re afraid of a black cat crossing your path, and when it happens, you’re sure something bad will happen to you. And voila, it does. But did it happen because of the black cat, or because you were so obsessed with the outcome that you were focused and in effect you brought something bad upon yourself–or attributed the next bad thing that happens to the cat?

    Is slender man really out there? Is it impossible? No. However, there might be something out there, either supernatural or cryptozoological that has morphed over time in how people perceive it based on the popular beliefs of the day. People have been reporting goblins, trolls, bogey man, etc. for centuries (probably longer) and their shapes and forms have morphed over time along with popular culture. Your visual idea of leprechauns today are not at all what they were visualized as two centuries ago.

    Perhaps slenderman is the latest incarnation of the bogeyman and it has gained popularity based on its ability to blend the fears of our minds along with our 21st century culture. Blending SM with the men in black and something of rural legend just smacks of that kind of hybrid fear. It’s interesting indeed.

    I’ve gotten off the cryptozoological train here, but I think that’s because I don’t see slenderman as a cryptid. Again, back to our other discussion on cryptids and what makes one, I guess I would classify slenderman (or its like) as an “entity” and not a cryptid. What’s the difference? I’m not sure yet what the distinction is, but as I said before, I think it’s up to the cryptozoological culture to decide when people encounter something outside the “norm.”

  3. PoeticsOfBigfoot responds:

    You seem to be suggesting that an Internet story could somehow create a real-world object. Craig, please don’t allow posts like this- cryptozoology needs to distance itself from fantasy and crackpot theorists; that is, unless you’re appealing to a very different demographic than you used to, in that case I give up. LC Isn’t posting much these days, and there doesn’t seem to be a fact-based blog out there. Maybe I’ll start one….

  4. springheeledjack responds:

    Poetics,

    I think you’re right on the one hand–that slenderman is tilting off the edge of a cryptozoological site…on the other hand, I’m moving ahead with my call from the last post on slenderman: I think we as part of the cryptomundo community should have some serious discussions about what makes a phenomena (like slenderman) cryptozoological or not.

    How far does our definition of “cryptid” extend? Do we draw the line at a tulpa or a mass perception in folklore? Or, as I suggested above, has slenderman just changed names for something that was known in past cultures, more befitting to our present time?

    Again, I’m with you–I’m here to discuss cryptids, and to me cryptids are physical beings we could conceivably catch (we’ll take the philosophical idealogy out of it for the moment).

    Poetics of Bigfoot: start this–what is your definition of a cryptid and what “things” fall into that category and which don’t belong? 🙂

  5. cryptokellie responds:

    @springheeledjack;
    I don’t know what the Slenderman is or could be, but the chicken or the egg question has a simple answer. Which came first – the chicken or the egg? The egg came first. Simply because it is the only possible place that a chicken can from. Period. There is no other answer to that question.
    Then what laid that egg?..Ah well, that’s quite another question all together.

  6. Dr Kaco responds:

    From what I have scene from both sides of Cryptozoology & Paranormal research is that they are completely focused on their own research and beliefs. In a sense ‘closed minded’ and that is not how things are going to be accomplished. I find Nick Redfern’s take on things very refreshing. And as much as some of us don’t like change, it’s here, not coming….it’s here. I say band together cryptos, ufologist, ghost hunters and mystery seekers. Unite! =p
    Cheers!

  7. springheeledjack responds:

    cryptokellie…yeah, you do get my point.

    Dr. Kaco…and you answered my question–good show. That’s what I meant when starting this…what is the definition of a cryptid? For you, it sounds like there is a lot of gray area between cryptid and other schools of thought (for lack of a better term), or maybe disciplines. For Poetics, it sounds like he’s making a distinction between the purely physical creatures out there (I’ll ASSume until he weighs in).

    As for me, I am closer to Poetics line of thinking. While I have respect for the other disciplines, I don’t always believe there has to be something supernatural involved. I’ve read over a thousand reports on BF, and every report that I know of on Nessie and I have not come across anything otherworldly that makes me think either of those two cryptids is anything other than flesh and blood.

    I do believe humanity has this idea going that we’re the smartest, bestest things on the planet and well, if we can’t catch something then obviously there’s got to be something supernatural going on. I just think people aren’t as cool as they think they are.

    I do buy into the theories going on multi-layered universes…or at least the ideas therein, and I think it is very possible. Does that mean that BF and Nessie are flitting between worlds and/or coming and going between? Who knows–I haven’t seen anything compelling to make me believe so. But for the present, my money is on critters tromping remote areas and deep lochs where we humans just can’t compete.




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