In this anatomical study of a single monster and its birth, the questions as to its form and function are raised. Monsters do not emerge out of a cultural void; they have a literary and cultural heritage. Yet when they are newly conceived, the need to construct a background becomes imperative. Since Slender Man is a prohibitive monster, but without a clear explanation as to what lines may or may not be crossed, the arbitrariness of his actions and characteristics offered a variety of possible backgrounds. The first narratives to emerge were linked to Norse and Native American mythology and medieval art (the danse macabre). Despite the culturally diverse character of the Internet, the folkloric and mythic sources used to form a social background for Slender Man were typical of the Western tradition. In terms of legend making and oral tradition, social networks have become a focal point of sharing traditional folklore and myth patterns. The shift from oral storytelling to the Internet forms of writing, blogging, and videotaping is intriguing because it shows no difference in dynamic. The creation of Slender Man demonstrates that legend making and telling—even without the direct oral link—obeys the same rules of performativity, critique, embellishment, and progression as it does in the oral telling of a story. The audience and the primary story creator share the legend as a performance to stage their ideas of reality and normative social expectations within a construct of bizarre and preternatural circumstances.

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