(This is going to be a series of v-log/blog/audio posts about urban legends to be posted every Thursdays until the end of November, woohooo!)
The 1st three urban legends I’ll be talking about today are as follows:
SLENDER MAN // THE RED ROOM // THE VANISHING HITCHHIKER
Slender Man is actually a very interesting urban legend in that A: he’s not actually a “real” urban legend per se, and B: Unlike other famous urban legends such as Blood Mary (to be discussed next week) or The Vanishing Hitchhiker (keep reading!), this particular urban legend didn’t come to the general public’s attention until 2009 in a Something Awful post as part of a Photoshop thread.
So, what is the definition of an urban legend?
According to Dictionary.com, an urban legend is – a modern story of obscure origin and with little or no supporting evidence that spreads spontaneously in varying forms and often has elements of humor, moralizing, or horror:
I don’t classify Slender Man as a true urban legend because while it IS a modern story, it is not one of obscure origin. Slender Man’s beginnings can be traced to a series of black and white pictures of children Photoshopped to include the figure of a tall, spectral man (hence the moniker Slender Man) from the Something Awful forums, from which a large collection of “creepypastas” have been born. (I’ll do a series of “Creepypastas” as well, since I find them just as fascinating as urban legends)
My first experience with Slender Man was not through the internet, but actually at a convention in Chicago when an acquaintance of mine cosplayed as Slender Man and decided to hold a hotel elevator hostage by dancing to PSY’s Gangnam Style for half an hour. It never occurred to me that Slender Man be sinister; hard to think so when the person cosplaying as such is thrusting his hips forward with his hands on his hips as the elevator door slowly opens, music blaring loud enough to puncture ear drums.
So, what is Slender Man’s MO? Apparently, he likes little children. Like, a lot. According to the stories (all fictional, of course), he abducts children, although what happens to them afterwards is not made clear. There’s a plethora of Slender Man games, books and even a documentary called Beware the Slenderman which premiered on HBO at the beginning of 2017.
The creator of Slender Man, Eric Knudsen, was inspired by HP Lovecraft, Stephen King’s The Mist, and That Insidious Beast by Zack Parsons. Through the Something Awful forums, he put up various photographs, snippets, interviews, newspaper articles (all doctored, of course), for weeks, putting more and more momentum behind the Slender Man myth, making it almost impossible to dismiss outright. The internet community took it from there, coming up with their own stories, their own spin on the mythos and basically turned Slender Man into a legend…an urban legend.
I want to share with you a fiction book by Willow Rose that deals with Slender Man being the “villain” in her wildly popular series, Emma Frost series. It’s free for KU customers, of which I am one, so you can bet I’m going to check this out tonight! (as a disclaimer, I am in no way related to the author or was asked to advertise this, I’m just posting the link because I thought it looked like an interesting read)
“あなたは〜好きですか?” In Japanese, it means “Do you like __?” and this is probably Japan’s answer to the Slender Man internet Creepypasta legend.
The Red Room Game is an urban legend about a pop-up that asks “Do you like __?” Supposedly, if you keep clicking on it, it’ll show you a series of increasing disturbing images with the pop-up changing eventually to “Do you like the red room?” At the end of the “game,” you’ll see a list of people’s names. It’s the people who have seen the game through to the end, with your name at the bottom of the list. As legend has it, you will be driven insane, crazy enough to slit your throat, painting the room red…therefore, completing The Red Room Game.
It used to be a pretty low-tech flash “game” first seen on Geocities and is cited as the inspiration (not sure if inspiration can be used in this way, but whatever) for the Sasebo Slashing, which is a murder that occured in Sasebo, Japan in 2004 by an 11-year old girl who slashed the throat of her 12-year old classmate (seeing similarities between this and Slender Man, right?).
I would love to share the original Geocities game, but it’s entirely in Japanese and I fear that if you can’t read it, it might not impart the right kind of mood, so I’m linking you to a video that is almost as good as playing the “game” yourself.
Okay, NOW, we’re on to a REAL urban legend: The Vanishing Hitchhiker. And boy, what a legend it is!
No one knows where it originates from, but just about every culture/country has their own version of The Vanishing Hitchhiker.
So, the basic story goes like this: A taxi driver is driving along a dark road. It’s raining cats and dogs, and he wonders if he’s ever going to pick up a fare, especially since it’s almost midnight. Then, he sees a woman waiting along the side of the road and he picks her up.
She tells him her home address and when he arrives, she tells him that she forgot her wallet and she’ll pay him as soon as she gets her wallet. So the taxi driver waits for half an hour. When the girl doesn’t appear, he knocks on the front door, wondering what the heck is going on.
An older woman answers the door, suitably perplexed, considering that it’s past midnight and asks him if she can help him. He says that he’s waiting to get paid for dropping off a young woman. The older woman turns pale and tells him that a young woman hasn’t lived there for a very long time. Then, the man sees a picture just beyond the woman and points to it, saying that’s the woman he dropped off.
The older woman stares at him and says, “Sir, that’s a picture of my daughter. She died five years ago.”
MAN. BIG SHIVERS. HUGE SHIVERS. I know, I know, the story itself is quite bare, but can you just imagine the shock and horror of the taxi driver when the older woman tells him that?
I suppose the pragmatic folks would say “Ah, I bet she just said that to get out of paying the fare” to which I can only glare at you balefully and think, “You party-pooper.”
There’s countless variations of this tale. Sometimes, it’s an old woman, sometimes the driver’s not waiting for the fare but the apparition has left something personal in the back seat, etc, etc. According to Wikipedia, this legend has been dated back to the 1870s, which makes you think…it’s probably a lot easier to jump out of a buggy unnoticed than it is a car going 40 miles an hour, LOL.