Though it’s difficult to imagine now, there was once a time when Slender Man was an actual terrifying urban legend worming its way through the dark corners of the web. These days, this once-iconic horror meme is more associated with out-of-touch edgelords and the tragic, real-life crimes performed in his name. In honor of Sony’s misguided attempt to cash-in on this out-dated internet reference, Ryan Hollinger has released a new video that attempts to answer the question: When did Slender Man get so lame?
First, let’s get the backstory. Slender Man is the creation of a guy named Eric Knudsen, who originally posted a couple doctored photos to Something Awful back in 2009. The images depict a creepy, elongated figure lurking in the background of groups of children playing in public. The unexplained nature of this brand of horror immediately appealed to internet audiences, who took the idea and ran with it, creating new images, videos, and games all building on the mythology of the Slender Man. Unfortunately, as Hollinger notes, the audience’s imagination got away from them, and the core of what made Slender Man interesting at all was lost.
In the original images, Slender Man was out in the open. He wasn’t hiding, and that’s part of what made him so insidious. Later iterations were built around the idea that he was slowly creeping up on you, stalking you in the shadows, only to reveal himself in your final moments. Not only was this interpretation less interesting, but as with anything the internet gets its hands on, it was overdone to death. For the internet en masse there are no small measures and Slender Man soon became far too pervasive to ever be truly scary again. So, what happens to internet memes that have been pummeled beyond recognition and lack any real pull with a wide audience? They get their own feature film, of course!
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