25th February 2024 10:20 am
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Horror fiction site defends allegations it influenced schoolgirl attack

Two US schoolgirls from Waukesha, Wisconsin are accused of luring a friend into woods then stabbing her 19 times. The victim is reportedly in a stable condition in hospital.

According to CNN, the girls who have been arrested have told police that they were trying to impress a fictional character who appears regularly on the amateur horror site, Creepypasta. Slenderman is an unnaturally tall man with a blank and usually featureless face, who originally appeared in stories on the Something Awful forums and went on to become a popular meme.

Creepypasta, meanwhile, started as a collection of horror tales which were originally published elsewhere (it gets its name as from the keyboard action ‘copy-paste’, which became ‘copypasta’ in net slang), although it now accepts original stories too. By the site’s definition, “a creepypasta is a short story posted on the Internet that is designed to unnerve and shock the reader.” (Although the FAQ contradicts this, claiming “we have never been a shock site”.)

According to a criminal complaint, the two girls wanted to impress the character by trying to become “proxies” – a collective that helps Slenderman by manipulating victims, destroying or faking evidence, and carrying out tasks.

According to CNN, “one of the suspects told police that Slenderman is the site’s supposed leader, and to climb into his realm, a user must kill someone.” The victim was stabbed “one millimeter away from certain death” and only managed to survive when a passerby spotted her and called for assistance.

“Both suspects had a fascination with a fictitious character that often posted to websites dealing with stories about death and horror,” CNN quoted Police Chief Russell Jack.

The owner of Copypasta, who blogs under the psuedonym Sloshtrain, has penned a long, sensible and very insightful rebuke to those who are naturally calling for his head.

“I’ve received both messages of concern and blame, and while it seems that the Creepypasta Wiki is bearing the brunt of media attention and finger-pointing, I feel it’s necessary for me to make a statement. I think that most of you will understand when I say it’s hard to justify pinning blame on an entire genre of writing,” writes Sloshtrain.

“Stories about Slenderman and his proxies are not the central focus of this website. I’ve been trying to encourage writers here to break out from the serial killers and Slenderman cliches that tend to overrun the Creepypasta fandom, though my motivation was less that I believed Slenderman was harmful,” he added.

The creator of the website is of the opinion that it isn’t Slenderman or the website’s fault for the stabbing, and suggests that it goes much deeper than anything that can be found online.

“I don’t believe that it’s the fault of Slenderman or horror writing in general that this happened. I remember reading scary stories and watching slasher movies when I was a child and young teenager and while they certainly gave me nightmares, they did not instil within me a desire to murder my friends. For someone to make the jump from reading a creepy story that is being presented as 100% fiction into actually using it as a motive to plot and murder another human being – something else has to be going on there.”

“Only a small minority of people (mostly newcomers) on the wiki (and the Internet) truly believe what they read here. We are a literature site, not a crazy satanic cult.”

In among some pertinent comments about the lack of support for those with mental health issues in the US, and admissions that Creepypasta is part of a media that desensitise kids to violence, he adds this key piece of advice for parents.

“I grew up when the internet was still pretty new, and I had safe browsing and not giving out information and all that hammered into my head from the time I was allowed to start logging on. My mother was also very vigilant about my internet use and paid a lot of attention to what I was doing online, who I was talking to, etc. I know that nowadays it’s probably more difficult as so many more devices can connect to the internet beyond just computers, but it’s still really important to pay attention to what your kid is doing online.”

Well, quite.

[Image – CC BY 2.0 mdl70]

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