Since I hit my first year as a Freshman college student, news has had a way of getting under my skin. It can shock me; leaving me either irritated, enraged, terrified, or a little bit of all three. It got to the point where I had to take a step back. I had to completely separate myself from the news stories I knew would do little more than aggravate me, and I’ve done pretty good about it.
That is, until the story of two little girls who tried to kill their friend in order to become one of Slender Man’s “proxies,” and live with him forever. Um, I really don’t know what to say about that. It is disheartening and terrifying all at the same time. That two girls could both fall so far down the path of mental illness without their parents or friends finding out is mindboggling.
However, I’m not here to speak on that. The news surrounding the event was (predictably) reluctant to confront the issue of mental health in America, and instead tried to (once again) blame media. Not only that, but the coverage seemed to gloss over what Slender Man actually was in favor of painting video games, the Internet, and Youtube evil once again.
It was a systemic failure of the news media, both traditional and not-so-traditional. I’m going to try and fix that mistake. I have a platform and…well, what the hell.
We here at Mediafiles already posted an article about Slender Man here. Go there to read up on the case I mentioned and get the barebones of what Slender Man is.
The important thing to see here is that Slender Man is never presented as a good thing. He is a serial murderer of children. He was purpose built to stride that low, low Uncanny Valley and freak us right the hell out. He is an invincible Old God of the Internet age. This is something the media will never admit when they’re on their witch hunt and want to refuse basic journalistic integrity. Slender Man is never celebrated for what he does. He is routinely and unquestionably reviled. The ones who would worship him – a group from the Youtube series Dark Harvest named the Order – is totally evil.
Now, the Slender Man mythos helped spark a genre know as ARG on Youtube. These “Alternate Reality Games” are uniformly of the Found Footage genre,and out of the dozens that popped up Marble Hornets is by far the best and most influential to the mythos, though the creators have stated that they have no official ties to other ARGs, and their chief villain is officially named The Operator. It is from Marble Hornets that the concept of “proxies,” or people whose faculties are completely taken over by Slender Man and who then work toward his goals, is accredited, explored, and used to its best effect, with the other “mainstream” ARGs such as Dark Harvest and EverymanHYBRID basically directly lifting the concept from Marble Hornets. Dark Harvest did give the term “proxy,” though, so there’s that.
Marble Hornets also came up with the idea of video/sound distortion whenever Slender Man appears nearby, on video, or uses his powers, as well as whenever someone effected by Slender Man’s power is particularly angered or distressed. His powers include controlling time, telepathic control, and temporal/physical teleportation. The stereotypical Slender Man symbol started out as the Operator Symbol (shown above), and was first used in Marble Hornets before being lifted for Dark Harvest and TribleTwelve.
The writers of Marble Hornets also wrote the script for the game Slender: The Arrival, and are currently either finished or working on a script for a Marble Hornets movie.
With that groundwork laid out, I feel comfortable telling you that whatever Marble Hornets says about Slender Man can be taken as authoritative of the canon. While Marble Hornets is not the Tolkien of the Slender Man mythos, they helped shape it into what is today.
As far as origin stories go, Marble Hornets is unique in their approach. It is intimated in Entry #38 that Slender Man may have been a tortured child molester who was one of the terrible group of people (murderers, rapists, child molesters) that would be strung up and allowed to stretch apart before dying of dehydration and starvation. Slender Man apparently pulled a Freddy Kreuger and came back, dismembering a child and leaving them strewn all over one of the killing trees.
Slender Man is named the Operator by the antagonist Alex and the mysterious Totheark, but the naming difference is presumably because that’s what they know to call it, not because the figures are two separate beings. Slender Man’s proxy in the story, Masky, was named so by fans because of his quintessential white theater mask.
It is important to note that there is never any talk in Marble Hornets of having to show your worth to become a proxy – Slender Man takes over after prolonged exposure to his stalking. His presence also forces Slendersickness on the person, which is characterized by coughing, fugue states, and general mood problems.
Slender Man, overall, is not a good thing to be around. I cannot stress that enough. Alex repeatedly kills in the Marble Hornets series because of the insanity brought on by Slender Man. Masky gets his leg broken (and would have been killed if someone hadn’t stepped in). The Operator is a horrible influence on your life. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that you would want to be involved with him in anyway. He is a truly terrifying being worthy of being placed alongside canonical monsters such as werewolves, vampires, succubi, and mummies.
The only thing to celebrate about Slender Man is that he is a product of our generation. A modern mythology made by one man on the SomethingAwful forums with a bit too much time, a copy of Photoshop, and a bit of monster-creator in him. He is proof that in a “generation of mediocrity,” there is potential to make something great. We shouldn’t discount that because old people don’t want to take the credit for their bad parenting.