Friday, October 26, 2012
Internet Idea Analysis: Creepy Pasta
This is mostly going to be an overview of the phenomenon with specific examples spoken about. I won't go into incredible depth on the individual stories though. I might do later reviews highlighting some, but right now I really would like to speak about the stories in general. Like the SCP Foundation, these stories are horror-based, usually also based on urban legends, ghosts, mythology, and creepy and strange ideas.
You can't even start a conversation about creepy pasta without talking about Slender Man. Now, I know, everybody knows about Slender Man, but he's really the most popular of these stories. MarbleHornets, a YouTube account highlighting encounters with Slender Man, is probably the best story of the creature, although some of the picture from the SomethingAwful thread introducing Slender Man are also quite clever with moments of creepiness. I know there are a ton of blogs (alternate reality and otherwise) out there with Slender Man as a central antagonist... also a ton of videos as well. I just don't really read or watch those. So, I've only really seen the things I consider to be good. I can't talk about the lesser quality stuff.
Then we have Candle Cove, a children's television program from the 1970s. Or isn't rather. It is a program viewable by children only, with adults only seeing static. The premise of this one is interesting, basically making the program itself horrifying while simultaneously brainwashing the children who watched it. With of all of the weird programming on television, some of which seems to disappear from society's collective consciousness, this almost seems plausible... nay, even likely. So, the whole idea here of Candle Cove is one of both remembrance and absolute terror for a child. I like this one even if I don't love it. Check it out for both nostalgia ad a little terror.
Then you have Ben Drowned, a creepy pasta that involves a "haunted" Majora's Mask cartridge from one of The Legend of Zelda games for the Nintendo 64. (Funnily enough it is also the only Zelda game I have ever owned or played.) It takes a simple story of getting something from a creepy old man and makes it interesting, with the game being both glitched and odd. When the person playing the game tries a popular glitch in it, everything goes mad, with the game seeming to have a mind of its own. This creepy pasta I both like and dislike. I find some of the premise promising, certainly, but the utter ridiculousness of the claim really makes this one sillier for me than most.
There are also a ton of children's cartoons that seem to have gotten the creepy pasta treatment, mostly in the way of unaired episodes of some series, or aired episodes that were largely forgotten about by the public. From SpongeBob SquarePants you get "Squidward's Suicide" an odd "episode" of the series that seems to detail the death of a central character. You also get strange ones like Bart from The Simpsons dying with the family grieving realistically (and then horrifically), or Steamboat Willie doing the same. It's all very odd that the same ideas seem to be done over and over again.... but it's also hard to argue with the results, which are entirely favorable.
Now, there are a ton of other ones, but I'm not going to mention them all. Rather I'm going to talk about one that is less popular that I like a ton. The first is "Stranger on a Train" which I think is a fun way of looking at multiple dimensions and a way of losing yourself to them. While this story takes a while to get going, I was really taken in by the middle of it. It never loses steam or breaks down, almost seeming plausible by the ending.
Now, this is a weird review, since I'm looking at a phenomenon rather than a single entry or a single fictional entity. And that makes it difficult to talk about. While a lot of these seemed to spring up around the same time (2009 or so), they also seem much more popular today than they were back then. Sometimes it almost seems like they sprang up independently all at the same time, which could be a creepy discussion on its own. I will admit that there is a lot of crap out there. For every great and terrifying story you find, there will be ten (at least) terrible ones. But finding the gem is almost always worth it in the end, especially if you are looking to be frightened. I think the whole idea of creepy pasta is both interesting and entertaining, and the fact that it's been taking the internet by storm is a positive occurrence to me. I think it adds a ton to the horror genre while simultaneously not dumbing the genre down. They're new horror stories for this internet age... and that really makes all the difference in the world. So, keep going, creepy pasta makers! I'm excited to see where you'll be going next!
(As a final aside, I think one of the biggest influences on creepy pasta as a genre might be House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. It has many of the elements of the creepy pasta while simultaneously coming out years before they were even a blip on the radar. I'm not certain if it has anything to do with the phenomenon or not, but I wouldn't be surprised at all if it helped kick the genre off. It really works as a proto-creepy pasta. in my opinion at least. If you are interested in a creepy pasta novel before creepy pasta existed, take a chance on this novel. It is absolutely worth reading.)