I don’t believe that it’s the fault of Slenderman or horror writing in general that this happened. I remember reading scary stories and watching slasher movies when I was a child and young teenager and while they certainly gave me nightmares, they did not instill within me a desire to murder my friends. For someone to make the jump from reading a creepy story that is … being presented as 100% fiction into actually using it as a motive to plot and murder another human being – something else has to be going on there. — Creepypasta.com, Statement on the Wisconsin Stabbing.
I’ve chosen to lead with the quote that the Daily Mail – arch-conservative British newspaper and repeat offender on this blog – pushed, reluctantly, to the bottom of their article in order to grudgingly demonstrate balance and lack of bias. The declaration by the girls involved in the Waukesha stabbing that they were influenced by the internet’s fictional horror story creation Slenderman must have come as a blessing to the Mail’s hacks. The writers are reequired by the paper’s policies to find some external anomaly that caused a tragedy, rather than addressing deeper underlying issues like mental illness, or lack of internet access monitoring.
They struggled equally with the Elliot Rodgers killings in Santa Barbara, saying “A good looking boy, it is impossible to say what caused Rodgers’ problems with women, but apart from his parents’ divorce, there are no clues in his background as to the deeply troubled loner he would become.” The Mail cannot grasp the complexities and difficulties of mental illness, or the expression of counter-culture beliefs, and more worryingly this is one of the most popular media outlets in the world. Certainly Rodgers’ backwards, misogynist attitude towards women resonates uncomfortably with the Mail’s ‘sidebar of shame‘.
So it is a cause of additional concern to The Blogging Goth that they have now seized on the innocent interests of the Geyser family, raiding their social media presence to try and ‘explain’ the actions of their very confused, very ill daughter Morgan. It’s like a checklist of misunderstood fear:
Because of this one, anomalous, little-understood tragedy, again the Mail has ostracized and assigned blame to a culture they barely understand – lumping blame on an unrelated issue in a crude, quasi-journalistic attempt to be ‘first’ with the explanation. It’s almost grimly ironic that the Daily Mail would have such an issue with a creative writing website, considering the inventive nature of their reporting on cancer.
Acting on a hunch, I decided to search the Mail’s website for their coverage of notoriously-grisly – and massively popular – HBO television series Game of Thrones. Reporting on a show awash with dramatic murder is apparently not a problem, helpful considering how much traffic and revenue the Mail can make off the series. No doubt the editors are hoping no lone killer will rampage and blame Martin’s wildly popular series, because then the paper will be forced to revert to type and pin all the blame on this one, external, yet clearly causative influence. Assuming, of course, they have the conviction of their assumptions.
This paper’s irresponsible reporting threatens to whip up a moral panic based on inaccurate assumptions and blame culture that has been repeated too many times before. Time and again the media – the Daily Mail included – would like to blame subcultures for crimes committed, shirking their responsibility to find out the truth and inform, rather than scare people. I ask – I beg – the media to pause, take stock, to do your jobs and actually interview people somehow linked – not just cut-and-paste a parsimonious block quote as lip service to the concept of unbiased reporting.
Goth culture is not, has never been, and I trust will never be, some kind of crucible for such horrendous behaviour. There is nothing wrong with a fascination with the darker side of life, having an interest in skulls on Instagram and ‘Gothic-themed pictures’, or being a massive horror movie fan…
Well, Daily Mail. If it gets visitors, it isn’t really such a bad thing after all, is it?