Fiction Creates Fear
Slender Man opens Aug. 24 2018Rated: Not Rated
Starring: Joey King, Annalise Basso, Javier Botet, Julia Goldani Telles, Jaz Sinclair, and Kevin Chapman.
Writers: David Birke, Victor Surge
Director: Sylvain White
In a society where blame for crimes and misdeeds seem to fall belligerently on films, games, and the internet, we approach yet another case that will be coming to theaters soon.
Slender Man is a film based on a character created by Eric Knudsen in 2009 for a Photoshop challenge in an online forum called “Something Awful.” The doctored images went on to internet fame and became well-known around the world with stories about the creature being told in many publications, including a Newsweek article.
Slender Man, also known as Slenderman, “tells the story of a tall, thin, horrifying figure with unnaturally long arms and a featureless face, who is reputed to be responsible for the haunting and disappearance of countless children and teens,” according to the film’s IMDb page.
While some may think this is just another horror movie created to satisfy the deeply malevolent need to be frightened for horror fans, there are those that feel the film crosses the line.
In 2014, a crime was committed in the name of Slender Man. In 2014, two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, Wisconsin (near Milwaukee, Wisconsin) stabbed their classmate 19 times. When the girls were arrested, they informed the authorities, “they had hoped Slenderman would see their crime as an offering,” according to Emily Gaudette of Newsweek. It is the age-old defense, “the music made me do it.” The perpetrators were tried as minors and took plea bargains for having mental health issues.
“This sounds crazy, because it is,” Attorney Maura McMahon told the jury. “This was a real being to this child, and she needed to protect those around her. At 12 years old, she had no way to protect herself from [Slender Man] except for Morgan’s advice, and they swirled down into madness together.”
Bill Weier, whose 12-year-old daughter, Anissa, stabbed another girl with the help of a friend Morgan Geyser, has come out against the movie with strong criticism.
“It’s absurd they want to make a movie like this,” he told the Associated Press. “It’s popularizing a tragedy, is what it’s doing. I’m not surprised, but in my opinion it’s extremely distasteful. All we’re doing is extending the pain all three of these families have gone through.”
The father may have a right to be upset at the mere mention of the Slender Man name, but film adaptations have been made since before the incident with his daughter. His statements point to an issue of the film “popularizing a tragedy.” The film is not based on the events that happened that day in 2014, but the lore behind the fictional character that was created by Eric Knudsen.
Movies, memes, and games are not to blame for heinous acts committed by disturbed individuals. It may be the illness, absent authority figures, or just plain absent morals to blame, but certainly not the content in and of itself.
“Sometimes you have to remind kids that certain characters are the bad guys. We’re not meant to identify with characters like Slender Man. It’s not that there is a problem in the story- it’s an understanding among readers,” said YouTube star Mr. Creepypasta.
Even considering the past tragedy with the young girls, this does not mean that a film based on a character, that was blamed for said events, should be considered absurd, distasteful, or capitalizing on a tragedy. There have been many movies and television shows based on real-life serial killers, with many airing on the Lifetime network. This film is different. It is fiction, and meant to entertain the dark side of the psyche, not influence it into action.