Guest Post: The Slender Man, Fakelore, and Moral Panic

[The following is a guest post from author and journalist Beth Winegarner. Winegarner’s latest book is “The Columbine Effect: How Five Teen Pastimes Got Caught in The Crossfire and Why Teens Are Taking Them Back.”]

On May 31, news broke that two 12-year-old Milwaukee girls, Anissa Weier and Morgan Geyser, had stabbed a classmate 19 times and left her in the woods to die. Although those facts are startling enough on their own, much of the coverage has focused on the girls’ purported reason for the attack: they said they did it to appease the Slender Man, a fictional Internet character originally created by Eric Knudsen in 2009 during a Something Awful challenge. The Slender Man — or Slenderman, as he’s sometimes called — later joined the ranks on Creepypasta’s wiki catalog of fictional characters. Here’s what the site says about him:

Much of the fascination with Slender Man is rooted in the overall aura of mystery that he is wrapped in. Despite the fact that it is rumored he kills children almost exclusively, it is difficult to say whether or not his only objective is slaughter.

Interview with Rob Young, author of “Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music”

One of my favorite non-fiction books published this year was Rob Young’s “Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music,” a wide-ranging, adventurous, and  deeply pleasing work that traces the beginnings, rise, and legacy of British folk music. Not content to merely provide discographies and musical influences, Young digs deeper into the romanticism, yearnings, and spiritual dimensions of making a “British” music, mapping an “Other Britain” or “Albion” that exists as an ideal, a repository of the nation’s constructed hopes and aspirations. Young also makes connections between folklore, folk music, and the then-emerging Witchcraft revival. I was lucky enough to conduct a short interview with Young recently about the book, quizzing him about everything from Cecil Sharp to Nick Drake’s “pagan” tendencies. You seem to touch often on the theme of there being a Britain, and an “Other Britain.”

Music, Folklore, and the Esoteric

It’s no secret that I’m a fan of music that explores otherworldly themes, but in recent years it seems like I’ve had more company. Yesterday, I was struck by the fact that there are three separate books coming out in the coming months that address the seemingly ever-vibrant confluence between music, folklore, the occult, and nature religion. The first, “Seasons They Change: The Story of Acid and Psychedelic Folk” by Jeanette Leech explores psychedelic and acid folk’s birth, and its rebirth 30 years later. “For 30 years it languished in obscurity, apparently beyond the reaches of cultural reassessment, until, in the mid-2000s a new generation of artists collectively tagged ‘New Weird America’ and spearheaded by Devendra Banhart, Espers and Joanna Newsom rediscovered acid and psych folk, revered it and from it, created something new. Thanks partly to this new movement, many original acid and psych folk artists have re-emerged, and original copies of rare albums command high prices.