The two obvious problems with the media’s coverage of the Slender Man stabbing

In the past week, there have been two heavily publicized instances of little girls stabbing their loved ones in the name of Slender Man; the first being the two 12-year-old Wisconsin girls charged last week as adults for stabbing their “best friend” last year, the second a 13-year-old in Ohio who tried to stab her mom while wearing a white mask. The media has tripped over themselves trying to explain Slender Man, and inadvertently (or purposefully) demonized Creepypasta, unsupervised Internet usage and online culture. Even those outlets that did not demonize these suspects still failed to properly portray the reach of Slender Man and the stabbings in context of the Slender Man community.

Like all killings the media takes a shine to, a large roster of armchair psychologists have come out of the woodwork to bloviate on Slender Man. Everyone, including those not qualified, especially those not qualified, are theorizing on online culture while completely glossing over the community aspect of a phenomenon like Slender Man. Folks that are qualified to write about online culture, like this lady at the Washington Post, this lady at the Verge and this gentlemen at the Awl (not linking to said trollish article), have also massively fumbled to explain these stabbings in context of the community. (Why the Verge is linking to the awful tone-deaf Awl piece is beyond comprehension, but that’s a post for another matter.)

So here’s the first thing wrong with all this Slender Man stabbing coverage: the absence of Pew Die Pie and adequate mentions of Slender Man in video games

Why is top YouTube celebrity Pew Die Pie important? Well, a large portion of his fan base comprises of girls in the same age range as the little girls stabbing their loved ones. Teens and tweens don’t watch TV as much any more, they watch YouTube and play video games. Pew Die Pie’s main claim to fame is his Slender Man videos and many little girls got into Slender Man because of his charming accent, golden locks and good looks. My now-13-year old brother used to complain all the time about how all the girls in his class are obsessed with Pew Die Pie, and subsequently Slender Man because of Pew Die Pie. My evidence is anecdotal, but that doesn’t make it less true. In the case of the Wisconsin girls, they cite and favor video game lore; they want to go to Slender Man’s mansion, which only exists in the video game. A video game made popular by Pew Die Pie.

The little girls first tried to stab their friend in a public restroom, then in the woods. Both scenes, of Slender Man catching up with you in a public restroom and in the woods, happen in the first episode of Pew Die Pie’s Slender Man video series. Is Pew Die Pie responsible for the stabbings? No, of course not.

In the case of the 13-year-old girl, her mother mentioned her daughter plays Minecraft, and the ultimate bad guy in the game is Enderman, a creepy figure the creator of Minecraft admitted to being inspired by Slender Man. Is Minecraft responsible for the stabbings? Again, no, of course not, but yet again every outlet has failed to mention the Slender Man-inspired monster in Minecraft.

The second thing wrong with all this Slender Man coverage: it glosses over the role of the community WHICH NOW INCLUDES THE PRESS in perpetuating the Slender Man myth.

Think of Slender Man as a community art project, where for years now adults, teens and tweens have been fabricating fake news articles, photographs, and even video games and comics, about Slender Man, this all-powerful, all-knowing spectre-monster with long arms (shaped like claws, or tree branches, or tentacles depending on the artist) that mind controls and kills people. When these two Wisconsin girls say they wanted to honor the Slender Man myth, to make him “real” and prove the “skeptics wrong,” it sounds more like they wanted to participate in the community by creating the most credible news article about Slender Man ever. They didn’t want to make him real by doing another photoshop, that’s already been done. So how do you make the most credible news article about Slender Man? You actually go out and make Slender Man happen in a way the news can cover.

Not only that, but these two little girls then gave their best friend the ultimate Slender Man experience by becoming Slender Man for her. It’s sick and it’s twisted, but if we are charging them as mentally fit adults we can’t say they didn’t know the line between reality and fantasy because mentally fit adults do know the line between reality and fantasy. Unless, you have two girls purposefully blurring the line between fantasy and reality in order to contribute to this online community producing Slender Man lore.  Slender Man wipes memories and mind controls, remember, which is convenient for all three girls then, including the one in Ohio who say she doesn’t remember anything after trying to stab her mother.

The Wisconsin girls completely changed the meme and contributed significantly to the Slender Man community/phenomenon with their attempted murder, and by doing so in this way, have completely changed the narrative of Slender Man lore. Slender Man used to just be a fantasy. Now he is a reality. He is a reality because anyone can become a proxy for Slender Man if he or she wishes. This is evident in the stabbing of the 13-year-old girl who tried to stab her mother. Three little girls have now stabbed two people in the name of Slender Man, not in a fan fiction or in a video game, but in very, very real life. Like all things digital these days, these girls got instant feedback for it too.  And not just from online.

The Verge almost got this right, when they quoted psychologist Peter Langman:

Online communities may provide stronger reinforcement than other forms of media, Langman says, because other people are providing feedback. 

Any media outlet that reports on this story and fails to mention that they as an outlet are now contributing to the Slender Man myth, is laughably ignorant and dangerous. The press does not exist in a vacuum. The press cannot blame CreepyPasta and memes but not blame itself or Pew Die Pie.

In fact, the primary driver of the Slender Man myth is no longer Pew Die Pie, Minecraft, CreepyPasta, reddit, 4chan or Something Awful, but the press itself.

 


Most inappropriate PR pitch ever, connecting John Lennon movie “Genius” with Sandy Hook Elementary shooting

Okay, so I am just cutting and pasting this in full.

Something tells me John Lennon would not approve.

 

Fruzsina,

Los Angeles, CA, December 14. Those who murder all have one thing in common, says the producer of new movie on the death of the Beatles’ John Lennon.

Based on initial reports, a masked gunman murdered more than 25 people—including 18 children—at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut on Friday morning. Two guns were found near the shooter, who was discovered dead inside a classroom, according to law enforcement officials and media reports. Witnesses said the shooter was wearing a mask but his identity was still unknown. This is the second deadliest school shooting since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre claimed the lives of 32 people.

Just two days before the Connecticut shooting, a lone gunman had entered a crowded mall in Portland, Oregon, killing two people and wounding a 15-year-old girl, before taking his own life. In what appeared to be a random rampage, police noted that the killer, Jacob Tyler Roberts, 22, had no significant criminal history. His mother said that she had “no understanding or explanation” for what he did and that it was “so out of his character.” According to a statement issued by the shooter’s high school, “The motive for such a horrific act is likely to remain a mystery to us all.”

Most experts are as baffled as those who knew Roberts. However, Ray Comfort, the producer of a new movie called “Genius,” believes he knows why people are willing to take innocent life. Comfort said, “His friends say that Roberts was a nice guy and that he lost his job and broke up with his girlfriend. No doubt the Connecticut killer suffered some sort of rejection also. But those things have happened to millions and they haven’t gone out and murdered people.” The best-selling author and TV co-host added, “‘Genius’ points to what every murderer has in common, something the ‘experts’ either don’t recognize or avoid talking about. But it’s there.”  In the movie, which is about John Lennon and why he was killed, 15 youths were asked if they would murder for money, and those who said yes all had one thing in common. “Something tragic is happening in our country,” Comfort noted, “and most people don’t know what it is. Those who want to understand why these tragedies are occurring—and are likely to continue to occur—should watch the free movie.”

Nearly 170,000 people have viewed the 34-minute movie since its release on YouTube a week ago. Watch the trailer to see those who would murder for money: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZW2lhWfa28g


Corporations, Companies, and Supporters of SOPA

If this Pastebin document, created by Anonymous members involved in Operation Hiroshima, is to be believed, the following companies lobbied Congress in support of SOPA.

I smell a boycott… and the weird thing about this list is, how are most of these companies affected by online piracy? Especially all these clothing companies…

PetMeds

3M 

ABRO Industries, Inc.

Acushnet Company

Adidas America 

Bose Coporation

Burberry

CBS Corporation

Chanel USA

Coach

Columbia Sportswear

Dolce & Gabbana

Electronic Arts, Inc. (individuals within have voiced opposition?)

Entertainment Software Association

Read the rest of this entry »


Citizens step up as budget cuts kill community centers

Tate Gallery graffiti 1

Image by suvodeb via Flickr

Three teenagers were shot in the last 10 days in Albany Park. While the state slashes funding for various programs, including youth services, the local community is left to pick up the pieces.  Our Lady of Mercy Church, The Albany Park Neighborhood Council and  life-long resident Eric Criniere are leading the pack.

Read the rest of this entry »


A new website: Republicans for Rape

Do you remember Jamie Leigh Jones? She was drugged and brutally gang-raped while working for KBR and then confined to a shipping container after the incident. When I say brutally, I am talking about lacerations in her anus and vagina, and a damaged breast implant. It has taken years  for Jones to get her day in court, because when she signed her KBR contract, the fine print had an arbitration clause that stated all matters would be settled in a secret court. Al Franken set out to fix this problem recently by adding an amendment that gives defense contractor employees the right to sue in case they are raped, thus holding defense contractors responsible for their employees actions.

Maybe because it was Franken, or maybe they were voting along Republican lines, but thirty old white male senators  voted against this amendment. Let the internet shaming begin! A new website sprung up last week titled Republicans for Rape, and has pictures of the senators  (and contact numbers!) who voted against this amendment (including Saxby Chambliss, John McCain and Lindsey Graham). The blog section is updated frequently with hilarious “pro-rape” satire, and even sports a fake letter from Sarah Palin in support of the website. A facebook page was created yesterday, has over 200 followers and the comments on the main page are down-right cackle-worthy:

Rape is the new Republican family value! Thanks, Senator Cornyn!   via Resa Harrison

If we let those liberal heathens take away our God given right to rape, what’s next? via Sean Huze

The conservative right has no moral high ground left after this.

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Every day should be Taxicab Appreciation Day

I Love You So Much It Hurts

Image by Señor Codo via Flickr

I have this affinity with cab drivers and believe the bonds of  “immigrant-hood” are strong between us.  These drivers come from troubled or poor countries that most Americans can’t locate on a map. They come alone, without knowing the language, and their ability to learn English and the city streets is admirable and courageous.  I’m one of those fares that expect a conversation along with a safe route to my destination, and my ” in” is my immigrantness. I am genuinely interested in their day, having worked in a variety of retail and food servicing jobs and we commiserate together on the rudeness of people, politics, religion, the economy, the difficulty of adjusting to a new country, the self-reliance and loneliness of coming to America without knowing anyone, and the stability of our respective countries. It’s always an enjoyable experience, which is why the following Chicago Sun-Times article almost broke my heart:

Driving a cab is a dangerous job. A new survey from the University of Illinois at Chicago, to be released today, found that one in five Chicago cabdrivers has been physically attacked on the job.

“Cabdrivers are targets for ethnic prejudices,” said Fayez Khozindar, chairman of the United Taxidrivers Community Council.

“She said you are very lucky because I am not going to kill you because today is my birthday,” Kim said.

via Chicago Sun-Times

The article goes on to explain that cab drivers cannot park on residential streets, and the “long walk home” from a commercial street can be dangerous.

If you’re a taxi-loving patron too, I suggest you stop by HACK (or How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Driving a Cab), a local blog chronicling a cab driver’s experiences complete with telling drawings. For those interesting in becoming a cab driver, follow the link to a How-To article on one of the world’s “most interesting jobs” (if only I knew how to drive!).


Take that, King Daley?

The irony in this story made me giggle and snort:

Six people were charged with mob action today for yanking an Olympic banner from the Daley Center’s Picasso statue and tossing it into the “eternal” flame, authorities said.

via 6 charged with burning Olympic banner – Chicago Breaking News.

Oh my. Young people destroying property, in the “real world”. Hardly surprising, considering the growing anti-Olympics sentiment.  The perps in their police pictures even look haughty.

The most outrageous thing about this story is the cost of the burned banner, “valued at thousands of dollars”.  Why is this banner so damn expensive?


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