Friday, September 24, 2010

Marble Hornets

It would almost be a sin to not start with Marble Hornets, the series which really got the ball rolling on Slender Man’s popularity. So it’ll be the first item I explore on this blog.
I’ve caught up with Defining?, While Elephants, and EverymanHYBRID since my last post. I’ve also read all of Where the Rivers Join and Curious Little Girl, but those blogs appears to be inactive now. Obviously they were taken by Slender Man.
On another note, I’m starting to see why it’s generally a bad idea to just throw yourself into the Mythos. Walking home last night, saw three signs on the side of the road. Two black ones, with a white one on top. In the shadows, the black signs looked like a suit, and the white sign looked like a face. I totally freaked out there; scared the hell out of a couple walking next to me. Awesome stuff. Thankfully, when I got back home I found that I’d gotten Gurren Lagann: TV Series Complete Collection in the mail. Watching it is the best way to cure yourself of being afraid of Slender Man that I know of.

But, we’re not here to discuss me being scared of speed limit signs. No, we’re here to talk about hornets which are marble.
(Warning: There be spoilers below)

What is it?

Marble Hornets is a series of videos posted on YouTube taking place in the Slender Man Mythos. In the setting, a student by name of Alex Kralie was working on a student film, titled “Marble Hornets”. After two months of filming, he dropped the project completely, claiming “unworkable conditions”. A friend of his, named J (either that is a very strange nickname, or his parents just didn’t love him) asked Alex what he was planning to do with the tapes.
“Burn them.”
Not wanting to let so much work go to waste, J convinces Alex to let him have the tapes, on the condition that they never speak of it again. J filed the tapes away, but at the time was too unnerved by Alex’s reaction to look through them. About two to three years later, he decided to go back through the tapes.
Judging by the contents, our favorite abomination was trying to get into the film business.


To put the plot in the simplest way possible, while making “Marble Hornets”, Slender Man began to follow Alex. Like most victims, Alex started to fall deeper into paranoia and fear as a result. Things became increasingly worse, and Alex claims in one of the tapes that some people have even disappeared.
While watching these videos, J begins to record his own research into what was going on. As often results from people investigating these things, weird shit starts to go down pretty quickly. Standard Slender Man fare: black outs, waking up in different places, loss of memory, electronic distortions, etc.
In addition to Slender Man, J often encounters an individual who the viewers have nicknamed “Masky”, a mysterious person wearing a mask who is likely a Slenderproxy. There’s a good chance that Masky is also totheark, a YouTube user who posted cryptic, and sometimes downright creepy, video responses to J.

The series ended on a slightly ambiguous note. After the downward spiral really started to hit J, he called quits on the whole thing, and leaves. After staying on the move for a while, his mental health began to return, and he no longer had any involvement with Slender Man. When you’re starting to think that the whole series may just on a bittersweet tone, J receives a tape, with the instructions “WATCH THIS”. The tape shows that Alex has also found a normal life via the cunning strategy of running away from Slender Man like a girl. This ends when his girlfriend finds his old video recorder. Alex gets uncomfortable with her filming around the house, and then BAM, Slendy appears, and the video ends with the words “HELP”. J decides to be a hero, and goes to the rescue. That’s it.

There is a season 2 being planned out, which will provide an actual ending to the series, though work has not yet started on it.

Marble Hornets is what brings many people into the Mythos. As it is a visual medium, it’s easier to be drawn into it, instead of having to read through text (a feat which our society seems sadly averse to). MH makes no assumptions about the viewers’ awareness of the Mythos, unlike many other stories, and is accessible to people who have never even heard of Slender Man. The series also has a tendency of being spread around, especially on forums or in emails. Through this, it acts as a gateway series into the Mythos. Those that enjoy it often will search for more information, and in the process, discover the other blogs/videos related to Slender Man.

It’s also quite good; Marble Hornets scared me more than any big budget Hollywood horror film I’ve seen in my life. No, it’s not a top of the line masterpiece, but the fact that they were able to put together something so good on such a limited budget is pretty impressive. Even if you don’t find the horror in it scary, you do have to admit that the quality is very good, even when compared to professional works.

Relation to the Mythos

As MH is one of the main factors behind the popularization of Slender Man, it’s the thing which everyone else imitates. MH may not have created the Mythos, but it codified it. Many things which are now standard Slender Man fare were created by, or inspired by, them. The idea of Slender Man slowly hunting victims over an extended period of time, the operator symbol, Slendersickness, blackouts, electronic distortions, and Slenderproxies were all started or inspired by MH.

Which makes it hilarious how many ARGs don’t consider MH real, or part of the factual Slender Man canon. This is especially true amongst the ones which support the theory that Slender Man came into existence through collective belief/fear of him. According to them, Marble Hornets was not an effect of Slender Man, it was a cause. The reason everything else relating to Slender Man resembles Marble Hornets isn’t because MH was accurate, it is because everyone believes that Slender Man will act as he does in MH. This belief is not universal; in most of the ARGs which claim Slender Man has origins before his appearance on SomethingAwful, Marble Hornets is at least given the benefit of the doubt. Still, it is very common for the author of an ARG to claim that their first taste of Slender Man was through Marble Hornets. And it’s well established in the Mythos that interest in Slender Man often leads to the interested party becoming a victim. You can see where this is going.

The Operator Symbol

I’m just going to briefly touch on this here, as this is where (X) originated. MH gives very little information on what the symbol is. All we learn from it is that it is associated with Slender Man. Alex is seen drawing it at some points, and it makes the occasional appearance in the videos. What is means remains a mystery, however. The three main camps on what (X) means are 1) It’s Slendy Repellant, 2) It either draws Slendy towards you, or somehow is used by him for his gain, and 3) it neither helps nor interferes with Slendy, it’s just something that his victims feel compelled to draw. Option 1 seems to make sense with Alex drawing so many of the symbols; after all, he is being hunted by Slender Man, and likely wants some kind of protection. However, totheark also uses the symbol occasionally, and if he is a Slenderproxy (which seems like the most likely possibility), it would be strange for him to use them. For 1 to be correct in the context of MH, either totheark isn’t actually a Slenderproxy, or he is horrible at being a Slenderproxy. Then there’s the question of just how exactly Alex learned about the symbol and its protective properties. Option 2 resolves totheark’s use of the symbol, but then we have to deal with Alex constantly drawing them. It seems a bit illogical to be constantly drawing something that would either strengthen Slender Man, or draw him towards you. It could be possible that he was either hypnotized at the time, or so crazy that he wasn’t aware of what he was doing, but that seems unlikely. While drawing the symbols, we don’t see enough video tearing or distortions to symbol that Slender Man is very near, which is usually needed for hypnotism. And the idea of him being crazy doesn’t match with how he acts in the videos. He’s extremely paranoid, and not entirely there in the head, but he’s never shown as so far gone that he’ll draw something that puts his life at risk. Option 3 doesn’t have any of these problems, because it ignores all the problems. He’s drawing the symbol because it’s related to Slender Man, and that’s what you do when you’re hunted by him. You draw lots of (X)s. This isn’t that popular a theory amongst the more proactive or scientifically focused ARGs, because in those they’re trying to find explanations. In ARGs not worried about discovery or science, it can still make appearances, since the author doesn’t need to explain anything. Just show the symbol appearing somewhere, and you know that Slendy’s involved. Don’t need to know whether it’s pro or con, just that he’s involved.

totheark/Masky

The two of them get one section, as it’s heavily implied that they are the same person. There are theories that totheark is Alex, however, that would require Alex to travel back to the town (from a different state), and then film footage of J and Slender Man while J was hypnotized. Not exactly in character for someone who should be trying to help J, and certainly not likely for Alex. It’s far more likely that totheark is Masky than anyone else.

The vast majority of the fans believe that Masky is Tim. And I really can see where they’re coming from; Tim displayed Slendersickness in some footage, was shown taking pills which J found in the house/which Masky stole back, wore the same jacket as Masky, and has the same hair as him. Unless season 2 decides to throw some kind of curveball at us, it’s pretty much canon that Masky is Tim.

Now this gives Tim the wonderful honor of being the first Slenderproxy. There are some theories that Masky was actually trying to help J, but these never sat well with me. Masky acts in too threatening a manner for me to be willing to say, “Oh yeah, he’s just trying to help.” It’s never stated outright that Masky is helping Slender Man, but at this time, claiming otherwise is just speculation.

What’s interesting is how many ARGs have taken from both the concept of Slenderproxies, and the idea that Masky was somehow anti-Slendy. The Tutorial talks about Slenderproxies, but also makes the claim that wearing a mask can help protect you from Slender Man. Also, a number of ARGs take the cryptic writings that totheark did, but attribute them to the protagonist, not a Slenderproxy. Proxy or not, whenever the protagonist of a story does start writing like totheark, it’s never a very good sign.


Slendersickness

A brief one here. When J investigates the House (I feel like I’m writing about House of Leaves, what with me capitalizing the word House so often), he breaks into a coughing fit. Tim is also shown coughing at one point, with the implication that he’s been affected by Slender Man. One theory is that the pills Tim and Masky have are to lessen the side effects of the Slendersickness, although I’m not sure what type of medicine you’d need to do that.
In MH, being around Slender Man also causes the target to experience feelings of coldness, but this is less focused on by other ARGs.


Marble Hornets left many questions unanswered, which is one of the reasons it was so creepy. You knew things were happening to these people, but you couldn’t figure out why, and that was terrifying. How much of it gets answered in season 2 is unknown; as MH is the most well known part of the Mythos, practically whatever it says will become canon. Which will be hilarious if it contradicts the ARGs being made in the meantime. It’ll almost be like the Star Wars EU; all the authors go through all this trouble detailing every last aspect of something, writing several books worth of description…. And then George Lucas makes an offhand comment that completely invalidates everything they’ve done. It’ll be great to watch that if it happens to the Slender Man Mythos; hopefully I’ll still be blogging to do some sort of damage control if it does.




Useful Links
Marble Hornets Channel: http://www.youtube.com/marblehornets
totheark's Channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/totheark?blend=2&ob=4
Marble Hornets Wiki: http://marblehornets.wikidot.com/
TVTropes Entry: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarbleHornets


If there’s anything you think I didn’t discuss in depth enough about Marble Hornets, or anything you think I missed, go ahead and tell me. I’ll either cover it in the comments section, or if I feel the need to write a long post about it, I’ll make another entry.

Next time, I plan to discuss Just Another Fool.

8 comments:

  1. Concerning the operator symbol: I think it's meant to represent his face.

    As you've noted, before Slender Man was described as "faceless", his face was instead described as being variable or indistinct, or otherwise just wrongish. I think this was the intent in Marble Hornets, which predates a lot of what are now popular assumptions concerning Slender Man; whereas Just Another Fool portrayed in drawings a featureless head (described in writing as an egg), I think Marble Hornets was implying something less concrete, of the "YOU CANNOT COMPREHEND THE TRUE FORM OF THE SLENDERFACE" variety. The unface is impossible to draw, so the only way to communicate it is to draw his head, and then kinda draw an X through it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I saw it suggested somewhere that Slendy was a child stalker. As I was just starting the MH series, this confused me greatly. Like: "Wth? Why is he chasing them, why?"
    So, my question to you is:
    What is your idea concerning Slendy's motive/origin in the MH story (or in the mythos).

    ReplyDelete
  3. For the Mythos as a whole, motive/origin depends entirely on the author. Most popular at the moment is the Tulpa Theory, that we believed him into existence, and he acts the way he does because we believe he will. There are several others, but that's the one a lot of blogs default to.

    For Marble Hornets, I'm less sure. They've done a good job keeping their Slender Man vague, and distinct from other parts of the Mythos (such as calling him The Operator instead of Slender Man). I could throw out guesses, but until MH gives more info, they'd only be guesses.

    ReplyDelete
  4. His name is actually Jay, not J

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've seen both used; back when this was posted, calling him J wasn't too unusual. Not really anymore; Jay's pretty much all he's called nowadays.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Didn't one of the entries (37, 38?) have Alex say something about Rosswood park, and how they tied criminals to trees in the 1800's(?) so that the trees would grow whilst stretching the victim to death (because they grew "unnaturally fast") and instead of taking down the criminals, they just burned the trees, bodies and all? Aside from my run-on sentence right there, this would explain lots about slenderman and his motivation, his "unnatural" origins, his connection to fire, and the reason he is so darn slender.

    ReplyDelete
  7. there's a theory on Masky and Hoody NOT being Slendy's minions, and rather Alex fills that role for MH. I found it interesting and was wondering your views on it.

    http://our-red-thread.tumblr.com/post/9944469965/slender-man-theory

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just got into these blog posts today, really great stuff

    ReplyDelete