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A Look At Slender Man's Internet Origins And Far-Reaching Legacy

By Jodi Smith | Industry | August 8, 2018 |

By Jodi Smith | Industry | August 8, 2018 |


This Friday, August 10, 2018, a movie called Slender Man makes its way into theaters. Based on the internet phenomena of the same name, the flick stars Joey King (The Conjuring), Julia Goldani Telles (Bunheads), and Jaz Sinclair (The Vampire Diaries) as three girls pulled into the world of the internet meme as they attempt to figure out what happened to their friend (played by Annalise Basso (Ouija: Origin of Horror)).

Some people are quite upset about Sony’s release of a horror movie based on Slender Man due to a real-life incident incited by the internet meme. To understand the oddness of the mythos, its following, and the outcry over the movie, one has to understand the origin of the tall, thin creature in a black suit.

The website Something Awful asked its regulars to create something terrifying using Photoshop skills and post it in their forums. On June 8, 2009, user Victor Surge (real name Eric Knudsen) unleashed a picture of what appeared to be kids fleeing an area with a tall, humanoid creature placed into the background.


we didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time …1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.

Over the next couple of weeks, Surge added to the photographic evidence of his creation — but so did a lot of other people around the internet.


“One of two recovered photographs from the Stirling City Library blaze. Notable for being taken the day which fourteen children vanished and for what is referred to as “The Slender Man”. Deformities cited as film defects by officials. Fire at library occurred one week later. Actual photograph confiscated as evidence.” - 1986, photographer: Mary Thomas, missing since June 13th, 1986.

Later that same month, a YouTube channel called Marble Hornets began a long-running series that was presented as real video proof of “The Operator”, AKA Slender Man. The last video, Entry #87, was uploaded four years ago and has over 617,000 views. The series followed Jay Merrick (Troy Wagner) as he investigated the unfinished film school project of Alex Kralie (Joseph DeLage) and discovered “The Operator” in the tapes.

A 2011 Yahoo! question about the fictitious boogeyman showed either the commitment of the creature’s fans to the folklore or provided a glimpse of the obsessive and possibly mentally ill fandom that would later create a problem.

I believe in him but you have to remember that slender man is victor surge’s fake version but the one I believe in is the one from mythologies in history. Hope this helped and don’t dissmiss this as fake because he could be real.

When all was said and viral, Slender Man’s lore became this:

“He is most commonly described as very tall and thin with unnaturally long, tentacle-like arms (or merely tentacles),which he can extend to intimidate or capture prey. In most stories his face is white and featureless, but occasionally his face appears differently to anyone who sees it. He appears to be wearing a dark suit and tie. The Slender Man is often associated with the forest and/or abandoned locations and has the ability to teleport. Proximity to the Slender Man is often said to trigger a “Slender sickness”; a rapid onset of paranoia, nightmares and delusions accompanied by nosebleeds.” - via

This brings us to the highly-publicized 2014 case where two 12-year-old girls in Waukesha, WI, planned and carried out an attack on their friend, in the name of appeasing the Slender Man. Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier stabbed Payton Leutner nineteen times in an effort to become servants of the fictional entity. Geyser and Weier also believed killing Leutner would save their families from death, and planned the attack over the course of a few months. Geyser — who carried out the actual stabbing — received 40 years in a mental hospital and Weier received 25 years of the same. Both girls pled guilty to their crimes, continually citing their obsession and belief that Slender Man told them to carry out the attempted murder.

Despite the negative press, the Slender Man lore continued to spread across the internet well past the 2014 attack. Creepypasta entries providing personal interactions continued to pop up and at least five video games about avoiding him were produced. Although the exact birth of the creepy meme was well-known and easily tracked down, Slender Man became a new version of folklore, shared across the world and placed into history by very creative and talented people with no idea how much staying power their creation would have. Nine years after his inception, the idea of Slender Man is still popular enough to have its own horror movie release and spur a new generation of susceptible kids to investigate his existence — further solidifying his place in pop culture and possibly even as a mythological creature alongside the likes of werewolves and vampires.

And, just like those ancient, universal symbols of fear, Slender Man is just a scapegoat to explain the grotesque unknowns of human existence — insanity, murder, and mysterious disappearances.

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Jodi Smith is a Senior Reporter, Film & Television at Pajiba. You can email her or follow her on Twitter.

Header Image Source: Something Awful - Eric Knudsen