The origin of the horror story is the nightmare.
Our dreams are populated by what we consume, so it’s fair to say many of us have dreams involving fictional characters as long as we spend an adequate amount of time watching TV or playing video games.
“Creepypasta” is a subgenre of “copypasta,” a term that refers to any big block of text that gets copy/pasted without attribution across a network of blogs and forums. With it’s origins in chain letters and Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, these short form stories are populated with monsters, murder, and images of the grotesque. There’s a community growing online since the phrase was first coined on 4chan in 2007, and it’s dedicated to the circulation of these new urban myths — replete with wikis, fanart, youtube vids, and what have you.
Sometimes these amateur horror stories can cut directly to the heart of what scares us, more so than Hollywood’s slasher offerings can. This is partly because real people, unlike actors playing victims, aren’t shackled by copyright law and can be terror-stricken in a more realistic environment complete with corporate branding. Instead of relying on public domain objects of fear (like haunted houses or unsolicited phone calls) creepypasta uses more modern and accessible name brand conceits to turn up the heeby-jeeby factor.
A good example is the “Abandoned by Disney” story about an inhuman Mickey Mouse mascot at a forgotten Disney theme park. Obviously this story could never become a movie because it’s so contrary to the family-friendly image Disney and their stable of lawyers have spent their entire duration working to cement in the American mindscape.
There are a lot of creepypasta stories that involve cartoons. “Squidward’s Suicide,” “Dead Bart,” “suicidemouse.avi” (a lost 1920s Mickey Mouse cartoon), and “Ed, Edd, ‘n Eddy’s Lost Episode” which all tell a similar story of a mysterious and uncredited segment of a popular cartoon, filled with uncharacteristic morbidity, that either only aired once or never made it to broadcast. Most of them have the same exaggerated conclusion wherein a bunch of people who see it end up committing suicide.
I think the existence of these stories speaks to a bigger truth about the generation that created them. An undeniable characteristic of young adult internet users is their fixation on their own childhoods. There are plenty of fully grown adults online who obsess over TV shows and movies intended for the elementary school set, as evidenced by the well-known Brony subculture of men who love My Little Pony. Web cultures like these conjure the image of a whole generation of adults who refuse to grow up.
A possible explanation for the so-called Peter Pan Generation’s long drawn out childhood is the flip-sided belief that the same generation also grew up way too fast. At the same time that we were first watching Spongebob Squarepants, we were also first playing Grand Theft Auto, watching Seven, and discovering the horrors of ogrish.com. It wasn’t mere happenstance that lead to our gruesome deflowering. We wanted to see these things, we wanted to know what the fuss was all about and why our parents were withholding these elements of the world from us.
In essence, our real childhoods were overly adult so we try to rationalize them by making our real adulthood overly childish. As adults, our pursuit of the childhood ideal overlooks the actual curiosity towards violence we had back then, instead focusing on the Standards and Practices approved characters of our favorite shows, These characters symbolize what little innocence we had, and in order to retain them in our violent adult minds we desperately drag them with us into the blackness of full-on primal adulthood –preserving our childhood while simultaneously destroying it.