'Slenderman - why is he so popular?'
Why is anything popular?
I don't understand why Star Wars is popular. I don't understand why bell bottom jeans were popular. I don't understand why shaving every bit of hair off the female form except on top of the head and eyebrows is so popular.
A loud enough (not large enough) part of the population enjoys it, talks about it, posts about it, buys merchandise for it, and gets involved in it. I say loud enough because it's not always the larger group that determines something. Sometimes it's just the people who are the loudest about it.
Slenderman is basically the first internet horror story. There was a photo edit contest and people found the images of him to be the best. Then people started making stories up about it. They wanted to write and talk about it. Why this creature would be in those images? What was his purpose? Was he malicious?
People started writing "eye witness reports" and likening it to H.P. Lovecraft type stories.
Slender Man is thought to be based on the Tall Man
, The Gentlemen
, and The Question
People liked taking what was just some vague photoshop edits and turning them into something otherworldly.
I remember in my creative writing class in school, we were each given a photograph and no information about it. The assignment was to write a story about that photo. Mine was just a circle of lights. It could have been an actor staring up into the lighting from stage. It could have been a UFO. It could have been a fairy ring. It could have been the overhead light of an operating table. It could have been the after image ring from looking at the sun for too long...just like those original images of Slender Man, they could have been anything and it's fun to think about.
I like thinking about Slender Man as a form of modern folklore. Every generation has it's monsters and stories. Slender Man is ours. I think it's wonderful that even in an age of mainstream media, vast access to knowledge, technological advancements, and near constant digital footprints (selfies, social media, texting, etc...); we are still ale to create a legend. Something that, hopefully, future generations will look back at the same way we do vampires, werewolves, fairies, and sea monsters.