Irrational Fears

Last night I was randomly bouncing around TV Tropes a bit before bed, when I stumbled across the Slender Man and was promptly unable to sleep for most of the night. I’d copy the photo here, but I don’t want that creepy thin bastard on my blog!

It’s funny how something can evoke dramatically different reactions in people. Clowns are a classic example, some people think they’re hilarious, others find them boring, and to some they’re terrifying.

I’ve liked horror fiction all my life, especially the more atmospheric types, but I won’t turn down a cheap slasher flick filled with half-naked college kids and spring loaded cats. One of the few things that has consistently scared me for real is the image of a humanoid, but clearly not human, figure in the background. It’s why the first half of Signs terrified me, to the great amusement of my friends in the theater. I think it’s an uncanny valley thing. Or possibly emotional trauma caused by childhood alien abduction.

Come to think of it alien abduction stories are pretty scary, too. Though in that case it’s the helplessness and the ignorance, having no idea what they want or what they’re doing, and being completely unable to resist as they casually take you from your home, where you feel most safe.

The Slender Man is effective on a different level. Especially in the photo on that TV Tropes page, where it’s broad daylight in a park filled with children. You have what’s generally a safe place, you have kids, and you have this… weirdness. It would be creepy without the caption, just because of the instinctive fear for children’s safety.

What’s really neat about that though is going to the Something Awful forum and watching an urban legend being born. I really have no doubt that kids will be telling each other scary stories of the Slender Man soon, if they aren’t already.

It reminds me of Bloody Mary, she of the bathroom mirrors. I encountered that one at the daycare center I stayed at during elementary school. We’d turn out the lights and start the chant. Usually alone, sometimes in a small group. We always stretched things out and hammed it up as much as possible, making a big dramatic production out of it was part of the fun. Often we’d get scared or start giggling and not be able to finish it. By the time we finished the chant we’d be so worked up that any tiny unexpected  thing would be terrifying and we’d run screaming back into the light. Naturally, we’d then start exaggerating our experience so that by the third time we told the story we had bloody ghosts reaching out of the mirrors.

Good times!

On a side note, poking around the Slender Man’s background this morning I found a link to the Dionaea House, which I read live near the end of its run in 2004. If I can find time I’ll have to read it again and see if it’s as good as I remember.

Anyway, now that I’ve analysed it a bit, the Slender Man can’t scare me anymore.

At least not in the daylight.

About Leo Tarvi

Mostly fictional.

Posted on June 9, 2012, in Daily Post and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Incidentally the world’s shortest horror story is only two words long:

    Behind you

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