Urban Legends: Slenderman, Bogeyman, and the Big Bad Wolf
Bogeyman, A Cautionary Tale
A cautionary tale is a story told to warn against bad behavior. Parents often tell these types of stories to their children.
"Don't misbehave or the bogeyman will get you." We've all heard of these creatures, the monsters that will catch a naughty kid and make them its dinner.
Generally, cautionary tales are used to bring awareness to moral issues. This is a societies way of shaping their youth to keep them safe from things deemed harmful.
The Bogeyman is a generic term given to these monsters, and in this article you'll see how they can be a classic children story, or a more modern, macabre, and scary story. We will also explore why the tale of the Bogeyman and the Big Bad Wolf have survived throughout time.
The Bogeyman is an allusion to a greater power. This creature has no appearance and makes no specific choices. He is merely the vessel for the most basic of cautionary tales, "Don't misbehave or the Bogeyman will get you."
Children are classically terrified of the monsters that live under the bed and in the closet. This fear manifests as the bogeyman. Perhaps because of this, movies and scary stories highlight the bogeymen. He hides under naughty childrens' beds and grabs at their ankles. When a child doesn't go to sleep on time, their closet becomes his domain.
Depending on where the story is told, the creature will steal the misbehaving child. Some eat them, others take them and make them into other bogeymen. In Japan, the Tengu has only seven days to either make another Tengu, or let the naughty child return home, changed forever.
The bogeyman's purpose, through the ages and around the world, has been to establish order, to caution children, and to aid parents.
A Short Film
Types of Bogeymen and Where to Find Them
The Big Bad Wolf
The bogeyman is not the only cautionary tale society knows. There are thousands of them.
- The witch in the gingerbread house.
- The murderous hitchhiker.
- The hook man.
- The big bad wolf.
Things that all these tales have in common? They all show the dark side of man. Each of these stories illustrates the negative aspect of the human condition. It's all well and proper to want to help a hitchhiker, but beware. He could also be a crazed serial killer.
The big bad wolf is almost as generic a term as the bogeyman. He makes appearances in many classic children stories.
- The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Shows us that it is unwise to make up stories. If we do it too often, the truth will be taken for granted.
- Little Red Riding Hood: Gives us a clear view of the cunning and evil wiles of the bad guys. They will sometimes try and fool the unsuspecting innocent.
- The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing: Reminds us to be wary of those around us. Though they may seem similar and kind, they could be the enemy in disguise.
Thanks to these and stories like them, children around the globe have a classic understanding of the world we live in.
Modern Day Bogeyman
In today's society, the media and internet make it much easier to spread urban legend. Because of this, we have far more bogeyman stories to share.
- The Babadook: This scary movie set in Modern Australia tells of a haunting book that lets enter a terrifying new bogeyman called the Babadook into the home of a single mother and her child. They have to defeat him to survive.
- Sinister: This movie tells of numerous family tragedies and their connection. A ghoul that possesses or oppresses the children in the families to commit a murder/suicide. This bogeyman plays for keeps.
- The Hole: A B-list horror movie that tells of a creature that resides within a hole. It only comes out to terrify children with their deepest fears. Don't worry. You can defeat this bogeyman... if you face it.
The idea behind all these movies is pretty simple. The Bogeyman will get you. However, movies aren't the only place modern Bogeymen are being created.
Enter Slenderman, an internet sensation and bogeyman that has taken over the urban legend world.
Slenderman: A History
In a world of classic scary stories, retold over and over and over again, Slenderman is a fresh, young, modern urban legend bred in the world of the Net.
In 2009, a forum called Something Awful had a photo contest. The idea was to take an average everyday photo and make it creepy. Within this venue, Eric Knudsen created Slenderman. His entry was two pictures of children playing on playground equipment. In the background, the viewer can see a man wearing a black and white suit. His white featureless face stares out at the children around him. His arms are unnaturally long and he seems to have tentacles or tendrils coming from his hands. He is tall and slender.
Since 2009, Slenderman has become a household name, much like the Bogeyman. He has no singular narrative, but is the main focus of many online scary stories, including a video series called, "Marble Hornets."
Slenderman is the modern day Bogeyman, born of the digital age, hiding in virtual reality, preying on the weak.
The first video in the Marble Hornet Youtube series
The moral of the story?
- Cautionary tales, while entertaining, have an underlying theme. They help us understand the world we live in while teaching us the ways we are suppose to behave. Our reaction to the moral, and how we use this information, are what makes them classically cautionary.
- Whether modern or classic, the bogeyman or slenderman, these stories have an ability to incite our imagination. The macabre has always held a place of honor in our society and our stories.
- Be good. Slenderman, Bogeyman, and the Big Bad Wolf may be watching.
© 2016 Chelsea Frasure