Sunday, 25 January 2015

Slim Pickings: Why I don't buy the latest UK "Slenderman" sightings.

The Mirror reports today that there has been a spate of sightings of internet sensation Slenderman in houses across Carnock Chase (recognize this place... you will), Staffordshire.  This has been brought to their attention by "X Files investigator" Lee Brickley (I don't remember him from the show).

The first thing that catches my interest about the piece is this:
"Slender men have been a part of global folklore for centuries..."
Have they? First I've heard. And I thought it was just "Slender MAN" I never realized there was a team operating. That said I don't really know much about this alleged phenomena, the reason for that being its origins are actually pretty cut and dried.

Created for an online forum Something Awful by Eric Knudsen (a.k.a. "Victor Surge") in 2009, the character went on to be subject of several Creepy Pasta short stories. The origins are so clear that the character is copyrighted by a third party operator despite Knudsen being the undoubted creator, who have blocked several projects involving the ghoul. Knudsen has also given interviews documenting his creation of Slenderman and its journey to a pop-culture mainstay.

The Mirror goes on to link Slenderman to several supposed creatures of folklore:
"In Scotland the fiendish figure is known as Fear Dubh (The Dark Man), the Dutch dubbed him Takkenmann (Branch Man) and in Germany he is referred to as Der Grosse Man (Tall Man)." 
This seems like a blatant attempt to obscure the origins of Slenderman. To make the sightings more credible. Even if the Slenderman does bare a resemblance to these creatures its a stretch to make any connection beyond that. That's if they existed in folklore at all!

In fact I can't find any reference to these creatures that isn't directly connected to the manufactured legend of Slenderman! So the fokelore referenced is a facade. Did the Mirror genuinely fall for this? 

The Slenderman certainly does have precursors but many of them are anchored in pop-culture themselves. A sighting of Slenderman could easily also be attributed to a Gentleman from classic Buffy The Vampire Slayer episode "Hush"or perhaps Preacher Kane from Poltergeist 2:

And the place, Carnock Chase, where have I heard that before? 

That Black eyed children fuss of last year that's where. And when I visit the story, also from the Mirror, I spot another blatant connection. Who's there in both stories clutching his book, its Lee Brickley again! 

There's Lee just casually  holding his book. Nothing awkward 'bout that! No sir! 

Here he is again! Same photo, same book, different bullshit

Skeptical paranormal investigator Hayley Stevens wrote this about Lee during her look into the Black-Eyed children of Carnock Chase affair. 

"The image at the top of the report on Brickley’s website reads ‘I Want Your Soul’ accompanied by an eerie picture of a little girl with black eyes and there is no critical evaluation of what he has been told. For me, this is an indication of just how seriously we should take Brickley as an investigator.... The acceptance of one eye-witness testimony as evidence of something paranormal is another indicator of just how seriously we should take Brickley as an investigator. Eye-witness testimony counts for nothing when it comes to alleged paranormal activity. As a paranormal researcher myself I turn down case after case because there isn’t enough to go on – just word of mouth."
As with that case, there is little more to go on here than eye-witness reports that seem to have been brought directly to Brickley himself who has then brought this to the press.  One may question why these people haven't gone to the press themselves. Recent evidence suggests that the British press will accept virtually any paranormal story no matter how weak. Remember the "ghost in the cemetery"hoax that was debunked in less than an hour of research. I do. That case is one of many very weak stories. Should have been an easy sell for them. Why the middle man?

My personal opinion is that Brickley knows how to sell a story with little or nothing to it. He had success with the Black eyed children tale and now he's back. He keenly exploits stories like Slenderman and Black eyed children, which occupy that such a space in the public's consciousness that they haven't yet been assigned to legend. I doubt he does it for money, so for what attention?Credibility?

As for the Slenderman himself, many purveyors of the paranormal will cite the case of two Wisconsin children who murdered a class mate in tribute to Slenderman in May 2014, as evidence that he should be considered something more than modern urban legend, The case has certainly given a macabre weight to something so fundamentally light-weight.

Its worth noting in this terrible case, that not only was one of these children allegedly communicating with Slenderman, their delusion extended to believing that she was also in communication with Voldermort of Harry Potter fame and one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 

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