Saturday, September 27, 2014
ABC 20-20 "Out of the Woods": documentary report on the "Slender Man" case in Wisconsin
On Friday, ABC News 20-20 presented an episode “Out of the Woods”, with David Muir reporting, about the case of two twelve-year old girls in Wisconsin who plotted the attack on their friend in order to present her (the daughter of Joe and Stace Leutner) as a “burnt offering” (to quote to movie or novel title) to the Internet character Slender Man, link here. (The character's name is also sometimes spelled as one word, "Slenderman".)
The most telling part of the broadcast occurs when David Muir plays teacher in a New York City middle school and asks how many of the kids have heard of the character (all of them), how many realize he does not exist (a few kids didn’t yet understand this), and how many kids’ parents know what they are doing on the Internet (all kids raised their hands and verified that their parents did not know the “Wild West”). Kids are exposed to things their parents don't know how to deal with because of the omnipresence of the Internet.
The early part of the documentary broadcast showed the timeline, how the two girls plotted the incident for months, wanting to prove that Slenderman is real. On YouTube, there are little clips and short films like “Slender Suits: The Documentary of Slender Man”.
The Huffington Post as a story where Eric Knudsen, the “creator of Slender Man”) is reported to have commented on the tragedy here.
When I was 12 years old, I certainly understood that fantasy characters from television and movies were not real. It’s hard to see why these girls did not. Some of the documentary goes into whether they should be tried as adults.
Update: Feb. 20, 2015
ABC updated the story tonight. CNN has some new footage, too, here, from AC360.