The Fifth One

There was something to say about amateur horror webseries, and more than “haha they’re so bad.” I also assumed it would have been only one of these cursory posts in this blog, to serve an end, and then I’d move on to more important and grown-up subjects.

It has come to my attention that if I bring up the possibility of a writing topic, I will be pestered often and continually until it is written about. And then if I do not post it publically it cannot be accepted and dropped, in spite of reason. Months later, here we are again.

So here you go, Jerkface. Despite winning the bet, now I will attempt to shut you up just a little bit more.

Piffs: The Shameful Journey Continues

Piffs use YouTube as more than a publishing method. They are usually stories about internet videos told through internet videos, and have been repeatedly about Slenderman.

The “Big 3” Slenderman piffs are…

– “Marble Hornets” – A guy learns the truth about a friend with whom he has lost contact after he is given the wasted footage of a student film project. (2009-2014, over 80 million total views.)

– “Tribletwelve” – A guy learns the truth about a cousin with whom he has lost contact after said cousin reportedly kills himself. (Ongoing since 2010, over 5 million total views.)

– “EverymanHybrid” – Three guys start to make an exercise blog but something is amiss. (Sort of ongoing since 2010, over 6 million total views.)

All three of these series are part of the “Slenderman Mythos” which is defined as “Slenderman shows up in the story”…but, like anything else, success breeds imitation!

And they excel in different ways…

– “Marble Hornets” – Using general filmmaking skills in a newer medium, finding weirdly decrepit locations (and being the first of its kind).

– “Tribletwelve” – Digital effects, animation, pluckiness (and, initially, being a clone of “Marble Hornets”).

– “EverymanHybrid” – Incorporating a wider variety of content, focusing equally on character friendships and a broad, meandering plot (and lasting the longest).

I hate and enjoy many aspects of all three, and they each have fairly big and involved fan bases, especially the one-time Legionnaires of MH and THAC (now FWAN).

MH was so popular that its producers’ comedy channel, THAC (Troy Has A Camera), had once earned a guaranteed $700 a month on Patreon, and that number had gone way down (and has continued decreasing since, though apparently renamed and started anew as “Fish With A Nose”). Their viewership had basically been cloven in three in those recent months and they have since semi-canceled their follow-up series called “Clear Lakes 44”. But for the most part, fans found CL44 to be slow and underwhelming, and if THAC wasn’t making it, I’m not sure if anybody would have even cared about it at all.

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Because Marble Hornets, again, is considered the best by most. I liked it after sitting through its eight hours and three seasons…then I watched an analysis of it, for some reason, and now question everything about my old opinion.

While permitting quite a number of interpretations, there are “better” and “worse” ones, as in “If this means this, then that’s pretty neat, but if that means that, well…this could all be shit.” It’s interesting how that can happen.

(Can I just say that it’s possible that MH could be a story solely about white male film students doing terrible things to one another?)

(And then compare that to the THAC breakup?)

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I used to think Florida-based “Tribetwelve” had earned the distinction of being the worst and wondered if its only appealing attribute was the fact people finish a series and tend to want more of the same.

To me, it originally appeared to be a purposeful replicant of “Marble Hornets”. The first T12 video was released almost exactly a year after MH started, the openings are both called “Introduction” (with T12’s having a subtitle), and the next videos are also similarly titled with number symbols (MH uses “Entry #1” and T12 goes with “Submission #1”, all that).

“Hey, Milo…how was ALABAMA? (Like the place with the hornets that may or may not be made of marble?!)”

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But after a while, the person I usually call Tribetwelve Guy starts to come up with stuff of his own, using personal skills of his own, just like how all piffs all break away from using Slenderman as their only source of evil and menace.

Two of the most recent episodes of “Tribetwelve” have been two of the best videos in any piff, in my opinion, and once a person gets over the seemingly homage-like opening, the series constantly offers something the others sometimes fail to provide—evident effort.

Tribetwelve Guy does what he does, and after he opened his Patreon, his content has somewhat improved. MONEY WELL SPENT!

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“EverymanHybrid” sets itself apart by being the only piff to do anything close to referencing ARGs or horror YouTube series with ARG elements. (The retooled “Stan Frederick”, which I hadn’t heard of while first making this post several months ago, seems to get a little close, but not quite to the level of really effective satire. But Piff fans are easily pleased as long as a person gives them certain types of…tonal stuff. Anyway, Everymany Hurburb…)

A masculine health vlog turns into a trick-within-a-trick—their series is actually…okay, hold on.

So what is supposed to have happened is they were “pretending” to make a Slenderman series but the “authentic” Slenderman ends up intruding on them, but it’s also possible they were “pranking” their viewers as a one-or-two-time thing in their “real” fitness videos. But I don’t know when they actually say that.

I’m still a little confused about this part and since it’s a piff, I might as well stay this way. Regardless, it’s easy to either miss the gag or miss them explaining it, but I’m pretty sure they never quite clearly serve up an answer for this point. (Horror and frights.)

Detailing everything in the story of EMH would not be a great thing to do because I want to go to bed before tomorrow afternoon. I guess I could have done that, looking at it now.

The only thing I’ll note is that the adventures of Evan, Vinny, and Jeff feature the best piff-puzzles and the series is the mostly likely to be a Pure Advanced Reality Game.

Those three are only the biggest ones.

Piffs: Placing Potentials in Particular Personal Presences

EMH and T12 have made a few videos together and their stories affect the other somehow. The neat thing about them is that they (except for MH) have also made videos with and cameos in less-well-known series for built-in “YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY”!

EMH characters show up in “MLAndersen“, an older piff with a story about brothers who are not bros. Tribetwelve Guy visited the New Jersey-based “DarkHarvest00“, which is probably a little under-promoted for how good it gets and features un-bros bein’ bros and stickin’ up for each other.

One of the EverymenHybrids makes a quick appearance in the female-oriented, young-motherly “TJAProjects“—this series is actually the reason I expressed the offhanded thoughts I was writing about in a blog.

TJAP is mostly good and unique until it gets to the point of an odd choice regarding included content. I don’t feel bad for ignoring the greater internet when a piff uses the live audio of a rabid dog being shot and the discussion can be described as such.

[User 1] — I can’t believe they put that in there. Pretty tough to watch. Isn’t this a fictional series?

[User 2] — Shut up! The dog was rabid! It needed to be put down don’t you understand how the world works what are you PETAchan?!

[User 1] — What

[User 3] — I agree that it’s weird and off-putting, but maybe them shooting a dog will be important to the story!

[Mods] — KEEP OOG STUFF OUT OF THIS THREAD

And then I would say “I hate unfiction” but this was four years ago. (And the previous sentence is from early July.)

TJAProjects, aside from that, also showcases “5zer02“, yet another Slenderman series and one YouTube commenter succinctly points out “Man I just finished 8 Slenderman ARGs now I have 8 more”…no eyes, always recommending. I didn’t finish “5zer02” but its final two videos are over an hour combined.

But my favorite Slenderman piff might be “Keratin Garden“, the story of a girl named Story.

The series is the only one to have ever scared me, more than just making me appreciate the attempt. Maybe it’s because I can more relate to its protagonist, or whatever, but I think the eventual decline was mostly based on a lack of viewers. I could be wrong. But she started the series back up a few months ago, so I might start following it again. Still might.

The weird thing is that the YouTube comments for “Keratin Garden” at which I’ve looked were mostly statements of in-character support, like “We’re here for you, Story Parker!” and all that. I get it. They’re just playing along. But when the series presents puzzles to solve and then the response is “You’ll be okay you’re not alone!” without an attempt to find the solution…for some reason I, who has no stake in the matter, get frustrated. Then again, turning off comments and not putting videos into playlists is considered a best-bet in the world of piffs because Marble Hornets did that.

Keratin Garden is still neat and if I care about piffs again it’ll be the first one I follow. The Nightmind Bump™ will actualize itself, too. Sometimes all someone needs is a little recognition for their stuff to get better and better.

Piffs: More Than an Alien in a Suit

Like I have said before, the number of lesser-known entries and series could be in the hundreds. But aside from Slenderman are other piffs.

Meatsleep” or “Meat is Dead” or “Sewnkin” or “That one that deletes videos” caused a bit of a stir and was cut short when someone took things too far. I still don’t know what exactly happened since all I have found is what people have said and their shunning, though I haven’t really looked all that much.

But “Meatsleep” will be copied. Dungeon Master techniques shall be praised for being new, unique, and groundbreaking! Rest assured, piff fans who are not reading this blog, the advantageous many are selecting random numbers and deciding whether or not cannibalism will be featured, all at this very hour! (Perhaps they have already posted them by now!)

There are also a few coming up based around the open-source mythology (I don’t really know what that means) of ARKN (“Arr-ken”, I think). I’ve watched a few videos of a few series, realized it didn’t seem like it was up my alley, and I think there’s another free-to-use lore system about monster hunting. And then LonelyGirl15 or whatever.

Piffs will lead to more piffs.

It will happen as long as people want to make things and have a camera, and since feature films can be shot with smartphones, the world is widely open for ARGs and horror to explore the uncharted realms or just do the same stuff but with different people.

So if a canon is being made, all the crossovers and collaborations have lead to almost every piff being in the same “world” or “universe”.

I think this is why I have never seen a series reference the fictionality of other piffs or the genre itself. Any time one of them talks directly about another series, it’s something like “those guys are going through the same shit as we are!”

“The fuck is this?”

“We just want it to stop!”

It seems like an unspoken rule that if you make a piff, you have to play along with the others, all of them, at least to make a future collaboration possible, and I still don’t think “Stan Frederick” breaks the mold yet.

“It looks like you’ve attracted a secondary channel. Keep an eye on them!”

“Uh oh, you’re uploading stuff you don’t recall uploading! That’s a bad sign!”

Piffs: Turns Out I Never Actually Liked Them That Much

I’m not an expert on these videos, and I haven’t even seen them all. But I have certainly seen too many of them, haven’t a desire to make my own, and I guess the time needed to be used for something. That’s the motivation behind this blog which one person read and now I’m writing messages for him to read. For you to read.

These videos are just kids filming their friends and sort of acting, which is okay with me. Just kids, not professionals, filming themselves in the woods…not a waste of time or anything.

I like them more than let’s-plays. I can say that much.

Do you remember the American guy with a goatee, the one who lived in our building? He was a little bigger, taller, and seemed pretty jittery to me. His name was like William, or Kyle? Something like that. We spoke a few times by the entryway when I’d go out for a smoke. He told me he was making those game videos and that you and he had talked before. I think he must have moved or something because he hasn’t been around lately, or at least I haven’t seen him. Perhaps he just quit smoking.

And, unlike tobacco, I want to “officially announce” my intent to end my usage of this, my blog. It’s not because you were the only one who read it, which was expected from the get-go. No, honestly, I’m a bit sick of online publishing and online everything—including piffs and ARGs. I haven’t really paid attention to them since the summertime, when I first wrote this little “Review and Sampler” for you, somewhat in the hopes that we could watch them together. Now I don’t want to do that. So let’s not. I even tried rewatching Marble Hornets for background noise and discovered how much a repeat viewing felt totally pointless (almost as bad as posting about it in a blog) and further realized these videos, and maybe most everything else online, will only add to the growing gravel pit of crap, necessitating the multitude of self-aggrandizing aggregators to point at a certain thing and tell everyone that it is good. Like a priest.

This post is only going online because I thought about it last night and think it’d be funny to put it up while you’re still out of town rather than waiting for you to heckle me about it again—”Do this for me, won’t you?” Sound familiar?

In fact, I will do this now. You won’t know I have posted this until you read it. When you bring it up next week, or never, then I’ll just play coy and make you find this post for yourself, and, if you do, then you may just feel as if you have uncovered something all by your lonesome in this exponentially expanding field of overturned pines. Enjoy. Or not.

#fuckthewebs #carethnotsaysshewhohathcaredbefore #hashtag

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Based Upon No Face

For some reason I mentioned, confidently, that Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story was not only a bad movie, but bad among the bad.

This instantly-available indie horror movie based on a popular internet series somehow proved more professionalism guarantees nothing in terms of quality.

Then something told me it required a reviewing. As in a second viewing. Not a review. This is not a movie review SIX AND HALF STARS OUT OF SIXTEEN, check me out, Metacritic!

But, since I’ve recently been wanting to try this out…formatting!

Re-Watching Always Watching: A My-ble Hornets Story (some spoilers)

Formatting.

  1. So Always Watching is not found footage.

To speak of expectations, again, I would have assumed the spin-off of a found footage series would most likely also be found footage. Going into the movie, I figured the plot of “a news crew is attacked by Slenderman” meant a news crew had stumbled upon a monster, died, and then someone found their footage.

Like Blair Witch, the movie would masquerade as a “documentary” of “what happened to these missing individuals.”

Always Watching may certainly appear to be found footage—the main character, a cameraman named Milo, is known for being a man of his vocation and he films everything, including stalker-shots of his co-worker and one-time fling who is a maroon-haired reporter lady. The movie is mostly made of the video he recorded.

Every shot and angle in the movie has a “source”, either from Milo’s camera, the TV station’s security footage, or a family camcorder.

This probably sounds like it is found footage.

However, this footage is never presented as anything pseudo-nonfictional as a whole. No details are given in the form of text, disclaimers, pamphlets, or graphs. It’s just a normal movie with different photography techniques. The only person who did any editing was apparently named Wendy, and Wendy is a real person, not an unseen or implied character.

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In found footage, the movie itself must be part of the fiction and, in this case, the movie was not within the story at all. Like when I griped for minutes about the seemingly unrelated opening sequence. I had a lot of complaints regarding this sort of thing all the way through my first viewing, during which I was fairly distracted.

I have seen one of the Paranormal Activities and it did the same “So-and-so is carrying the camera now” thing without also pretending to be a documentary or a scandalous cable news program, so this might be the norm now. I wouldn’t know. Either way, Always Watching was edited to be an entirely normal movie.

Why do they bother to reference the camera if they don’t do the same for the finished film? What is it supposed to be, anyway? Is it a feature-length documentary prior to postproduction titles and narration? A fan edit for increased scariness? Did the sixth member of Totheark throw it together on his or her woodland moviola?

Only these make any goddamn sense if Always Watching is found footage instead of “found footage-style” or (I just sighed) “pseudo-found footage”.

a. There are ideas present which are actually interesting and make sense.

Horror is one of the genres with “demanded results”, and must always be scaring the viewer in either deep or cheap ways.

One of my favorite things about the genre is that the delivered scares can be nicely tied into themes and character, or used to make a point.

Night of the Living Dead is about how people would rather be correct than alive and will sometimes kill or be killed before moving past preconceptions.

A Nightmare on Elm Street and Rosemary’s Baby are both stories of getting blamed for our own traumatic experiences, or just general disbelief, though they handle them quite differently.

noitsaprofessionalmovie

Something really great is how horror movies can mean something new and exciting for each individual seeing it. The best ones seem to all have a deeper meaning, at least.

b. How does all that in any way relate to Always Watching: An Always Watching Story?

It, too, like these grantedly much-fucking-better films, has a point behind the frights.

In my opinion, Movie Slenderman symbolizes the manifestation of insanity in people who never suspected they could end up being insane or doing insane things.

Cameraman Milo, the “Slender-contagion” in this case, is a stalker, which is something only crazy people can be, right? He eventually says he never thought he’d do anything so shitty. His reasoning, perhaps ultimately irrelevant, never accounted for anything like that.

He never thought it could happen to him. He never thought he could do that to anyone.

Milo’s Slenderman is the slow realization he has done something…monstrous.

Same with the blonde-and-buff producer and Miss Burgundy, who are respectively prone to violent outbursts and substance abuse. The white-middle-class-suburban-family with 2.5 children are also subjected to unusual circumstances normally reserved for only the crazies.

It’s not unexpected things done to them, it’s what they do themselves. Those are a few unusually interesting things for what is probably Prepackaged Horror.

c. But that doesn’t “mean” shit, does it?

Unlike the classics, however, Always Watching isn’t scary or good apart from these themes. When Slenderman shows up and the video skips, it’s underwhelming, almost like they didn’t intend for it to be jarring or disturbing, or anything other than sudden.

And fake jump scares outnumber real ones (including non-jump). It wasn’t even a close contest.

Aside from what their madnesses could reflect, the characters don’t do much to warrant the audience’s empathy or time. A dog will probably be the chosen favorite of most, which has probably been noted verbatim many times for many other films.

The question I find myself asking is how the audience is supposed to connect with themes when the “action” does actually nothing to engage their attention. Horror fans fervently expect to be scared, or they at least have something similar in mind when they press that play button or the more crucial one which says “Buy Movie $6.99”.

Always Watching sort of relies on secondary means of horror by posing a few moral quandaries. But this, as I said, doesn’t lead to a good movie, unassisted.

It wouldn’t matter if nobody believed those distraught teens if Freddy Krueger wasn’t such a formidable villain who oozed a green substance and sported fucking daggers on a grungy ol’ work glove!

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With that said, I am not suggesting this movie fails solely because it differs from the basis, or that it doesn’t have any little touches to appreciate. Its problems go beyond that and there are some.

2. Brings up something else.

I can’t say I have ever seen a movie wherein I have noticed such artistic intent and then thought the rest of the movie was crap.

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It could be because someone who understands the importance of meaning would also understand the importance of providing a properly entertaining story in which to put it.

It could be more movies are like this, and I have never started half-analyzing them since they didn’t satisfy the more basic requirements of effective filmmaking. Or it could be all in my head. I don’t really know!

The issue with this movie, especially in comparison to the original “Marble Hornets” series, goes back to what everyone asks, right when the end credits begin—did I like the movie? Was it money well spent? I’m just a little unsure of my own answer to that.

(Also of note…the credits say the movie’s copyright is for 2008, but it was made last year. I’m not sure if this is a mistake, like somebody copy-pasted it from an earlier production and then forgot to change the year. I’d bring up alternative/in-story/meta possibilities but the events of the film take place in 2012.)

3. Anyway if this movie was better, it’d be less interesting, or just worse.

No matter what, I wouldn’t have thought so much about Always Marbling: A Gory Story Glory if it was even somewhat visually irksome. I probably would have just mentioned that it is weird how film students had a movie made about their ideas and they weren’t the ones who made it.

Luckily, or not, James Moran’s apparent directorial debut is fairly distinct for being a weird mixture of the bad and the good.

Meaning makes fiction interesting and worthwhile. No doubts there. Meaning doesn’t require a budget, and it can be found anywhere, in any footage, in any genre or medium. So I don’t feel stupid writing so goddamn much about a movie based on a creepypasta since I think there was underlying symbolism behind the story, and perhaps only symbolism.

But this movie sucks, no matter what!

Art can certainly exist without meaning, but can there be appreciative, higher-quality meaning in lower-quality art? And what if there is? What does one call it?

Was this money well spent? For me…I was bound to see it sometime.

I’d also bring up whether the film had any involvement with the T.H.A.C. breakup, but that’s none of my business, since it’s their business…ha…ha. Ha!

Hey, wait.

This makes four posts…

The victory is all mine! The dashes will do what I say—yes—they—will—now—I—win—take—that—futility!

But, really, just like this movie, I’ve had worse times, so maybe I should thank you.

(Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story is owned by GRACESAM FILMS, LLC. Still images from the film are used for the purposes of review despite stating this wasn’t a review, which it sort of was, I guess.) (I also wonder if anyone noticed that the mother at the end talked about a having a second kid who apparently must have died since we are only shown the one daughter…unless I’m forgetting something? That stuck out to me the second time, at least.)

Standing Right Behind Me

Way to go, piffs!

“Piff”—the term I have recently and happily espoused which means “a YouTube series with ARG elements”. An ARG is an “advanced/alternate/augmented/associative/advertisement reality game” or the subject of my previous shambling blog post.

(I have realized “Piff” could also be an acronymic anagram of “First-Person Internet Film” and that makes me like it that much more.)

Piffs are weird, cheap, and more reflective of our societies than it may seem. But, apart from that, they can be genuinely amusing, or guilty pleasures! I KNOW WHAT THAT TERM MEANS!

From the gated forum community of Something Awful emerged “The Slender Man”, which is probably an alien in a suit and tie. In these fictional stories, now an informal or collective canon, the monster has been actively kidnapping children for multiple centuries and will be the eternally peeping tom.

It teleported more into the public consciousness through “Marble Hornets” (a piff) and then that lead to the computer game PewDiePie played, and then the Swedish multimillionaire game-playing-dude caused “Marble Hornets” to get more popular still and the loop probably continues to this day.

Sadly, Slenderman again entered the news when two Wisconsin preteens attempted to murder their friend, citing the online stories as motivation. This event, which the victim survived by a millimeter, sufficiently sullies creepypastas and internet-based horror stories and their would-be frivolity and occasional patheticness, at least for me, at least sometimes.

I occasionally think of the victim, twelve years old when it happened, and the process of growing up. Getting older is hard enough. I can’t imagine having to go through all the regular crap after barely living through attempted murder committed by friends.

Awful shit, but it’s an isolated incident, no matter how shitty or awful.

Are creepypastas harmful to our youth? Probably not. Are they good for our youth? They’re a lot better than other things. Are they all that good for anything else? Maybe, maybe not?

Some people quite like them, and they also like the Slenderman piffs.

ThereHeIsRunHimOver

After “Marble Hornets”, Slenderman became the de facto villain of countless other internet series, each of which are deliberately spooky.

The main overarching problem I have with piffs is the inexorable fact they are not exactly nuanced productions from quality filmmakers, and are basically like reading blogs instead of books. For the most part. There are exceptions to this!

(My blog is not an exception to this.)

However, The Blair Witch Project wasn’t exactly revolutionary cinema (it was really just basic math—profit is the difference between revenue and expenses) and that movie started this whole new genre, essentially. Don’t have expensive equipment or a heavily-perfected screenplay? Great, since piffs and found footage get better by being worse! These are “real people” who are “not professionals”, and we can’t lift the veil of pseudononfiction…

But, now, if things can be presented in a certain way for the sake of frights, then it’s okay for piffs, so I am told and don’t agree with. I have always seen what you’ve been trying to do to me, found footage, and I don’t like it.

Who edited the tape of the film crew in Blair Witch? Why did they purposely cut it to be tense and maddening?

SeemsFamiliar

I should remember people asked if The Blair Witch was real when it first came out. It caught the attention of moviegoers by being the first of its kind to get nationwide exposure. (I should also remember it caused a trend of making people throw up in the theater.)

The “first-person” narrative of found footage is usually presented as what another person has come across in a yard sale, vacated warehouse, cellar or attic, suspicious eBay listing, neglected church basement, or mom-and-pop video store imprisoning the vengeful soul of a Confederate soldier…

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Piffs take it a little further and actually utilize the first-person narrative by definition—the characters themselves are filming and editing the content. Just about everything becomes a character choice, and should be digested as such. I would think.

So why doesn’t Jay from “Marble Hornets” remove the white noise, and why does he end videos with ambiguous moments or unaddressed questions? Why does he insist on dramatic pausing during his usage of impersonal bold text? Why does he never attempt to alleviate our worries?

Oh, that’s right, it’s scarier that way. Sure, fine, all right!

There’s value in understatement, but piffs don’t exactly do that. Not only do they employ these somewhat sneaky methods, but they’re practically devoid as a result, and this shallowness works in their favor only if one decides against questioning it, which I cannot seem to do.

Could be just me.

The question of “Why are they recording this?” in found footage will never be sufficiently answered because satisfying the condition aversely affects entertainment and our fearful expectations. Piffs, alternatively, have an extra plaguing query along with all previous skepticisms regarding this style of cinematography—”And then why did they post it on YouTube?”

Invariably, piff protagonists will expose a desire to make their experiences known, should they wind up dead or something (I do not know of any piffs where this actually happens, by the way). Slenderman fighters can also wield their camcorder to detect when the monster is nearby.

All that gets a little less explicable when illegal acts start taking place, perpetrated by the same folks publishing them online, which happens more than once in more than one of them.

Suspension of disbelief, motif, motivation, protagonist…nope, it doesn’t make sense. The issue isn’t the supernatural factor. It’s very much the normal-natural one.

ItHelpsHimAimMaybe

Found footage, ironically, depends more on naturalness than other genres of fiction (these are “real people” who are “not professionals”), and perhaps even more than some reality television programs and certain styles of documentaries (which is pretty funny). When amateur actors read lines from a lackluster script, or when intentional editing techniques are done for ostensible horror, then I sort of have to rub my forehead and shrug.

It makes me wonder exactly how much a low or zero price tag can buy. All piffs are free, aside from the ads. By these, I am only reminded these people are getting paid for their work, and I’ll restate my support of this.

These webseries attract viewers. That continues to be a fine thing! Sure, I wonder if they could be making better, more authentic short films or miniseries…but they might as well while they’re young and haven’t a budget.

This is where I detach myself from totally supporting them.

Slenderman piffs probably cannot be what the videomakers decide to do for an extended period of time if they wish to create and work with film (and it might appear they realize this, too). If they can come up with a good story about the rather mundane Slender Man, they can probably be doing something more original.

In some respects, however, the Slenderpiffs have formed a new elemental horror subgenre along the same lines as Zombie, Werewolf, Vampire, and Freddy Krueger, with certain viewers primarily seeking certain types of monsters.

“Slender Man 7: Slendy’s Summer Break”…

Horror’s different, which I understand, and not every piff uses the demon in formalwear, I know. But most of the popular ones do, probably for the drawing factor of the “slenderman” search results.

The monster itself, however, has become uninteresting. Oftentimes these series will have to come up with their own twist on the premise, incorporating an element special only to them but still somewhat related to their peers and classmates.

Masky, The Observer, maybe a cult or two…all of them do it.

The other question I ask is if the whole genre is constraining the possibly talented people behind these videos. This might be the best piffs can get, especially considering the necessity of making all the footage sensible, which makes it less scary almost automatically. Limitation breeds innovation, yes. This makes me wonder if piffs and ARGs are still unsolved and untapped. What else can be done with them? Can anything else be done with them?

MasterOfVentriloquists

Traditional horror can just do more and get away with it. The directors can show whatever the hell they feel like showing—they don’t explain why the camera operator isn’t running away and tripping like all the characters are. It’s not necessarily logical, but it’s sort of related to logic. They can be scarier and have more capabilities in expressing themes and ideas.

But…

…what exactly is that crawly feeling after watching some YouTube horror stuff and then everything around seems…my god, unnerving? Most of the time, I’m not ruffled at all by piffs or creepypastas while watching or reading, but then I’ll step out and swear I hear something moving in the bushes. It happens surprisingly often!

“It’s just a movie” has been told to antsy children for years now. Perhaps there’s an odd psychological benefit to going through the newer technological side of the medium, as our elders cannot reassure us that it is only make-believe.

Another thing piffs have going for them is the side-by-side tale-of-the-tape between “Marble Hornets” and its direct-to-fucking-video-spin-off Always Watching: A Marble Hornets Story, which was probably the worst found footage movie I have ever seen.

YouTube probably makes these stories better. Viewers can feel like the ones finding the footage. They might ask themselves if it is real once or twice. They might even play along at home!

Would Scream work if Sidney Prescott was vlogging about it the whole time? Probably not. So format does play a role, whether or not it’s an excuse.

Some people only want to watch characters they don’t like get repeatedly knifed to death.

Perhaps the Slenderman piffs will eventually be indicative of a time period, either fondly remembered or mocked during panel shows. They could also be the shallow end of a larger swimming pool. They could very well be a golden age of internet horror, for all I know.

Either way, they will definitely have their cameras with them.

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I don’t mind doing this, but still don’t see the point…75% completed!

Alternative, Augmented, and All About It

A larger amount of everything has never been more accessible or as universally cheap, instantly available from just about everywhere, both classic and modern, indie and blockbuster, unknown and best sellers alike.

Yeah, it’s all there! The shows and movies I can stream, right now! The novels I can download or borrow through the goddamn air waves!

Professionals, experts, masters of their craft, and their work is under my thumb…just have to click, and only once!

But, hey, why should I do that?

I could be watching shakycam footage of young adults in an abandoned hospital.

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A person can have a long period of time with an activity, and after realizing they do not quite totally enjoy it, they feel compelled to make the time spent “somewhat worthwhile”, and they keep on doin’ it.

This means the spent time can be the primary reason time is spent, eventually.

I, personally, am at this cyclical, cynical point with ARGs—advanced/alternate reality games—”Eh-Ar-Jeez”—one of the worst acronyms—some people say it is supposed to be “augmented” reality games—but, either way, the term doesn’t quite describe or fit—and the dashes will rule the day—.

ARGs started out as advertising vessels which were nearly more entertaining than the films and games they were trying to promote (such as “The Beast”, the mostly text-based sequel to Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, released online prior to the movie’s premier in 2001).

They tended to use the distribution and publication itself as part of the plot or story, such as in epistolary, or haunted houses. Yes, ARGs are like letters from college kids dressed as zombies hiding in the dark.

How true is that now?

The most famous are probably the comparably-titled “Marble Hornets” and “I Love Bees”, the latter being a big-budgeted and highly-adored commercial for a bigger-budgeted and more-highly-adored video game. From what I know, it used payphones and Geocities-esque websites to give the audience information, clues, and exposition, and it wasn’t just about bees.

“Marble Hornets”, however, was low-key in comparison, but quite a bit more influential, ultimately. It was fiction disguised as nonfiction, pseudo-nonfiction, which only establishes the fourth wall off-camera, or “out of game” or “Ooooooooooooooooooog”.

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There is something meta to “Marble Hornets”.

The plot of the series starts after a film student acquires the discarded tapes from a former friend’s discontinued film project, and then something is amiss. (One can tack “and then something is amiss” onto any premise for any ARG at any time or on any planet.)

Through in-character tweeting and over a hundred videos, viewers and fans could unveil the mystery and find out what exactly happened to some bland middle-class white males.

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“MH” was semi-novel, lasting from 2009 to 2014, and it has gone on to be copied and copied again, and often improved upon. Oddly, I don’t even think it is that good, and yet it is definitely the best of its bunch in several ways.

Its success lead to “TribeTwelve”, “EverymanHybrid”, “DarkHarvest00”, and an unknowable number of failures to launch.

Each of them somewhat sucks in its own special way, but they can be genuinely entertaining with the right attitude and maybe a few of the correct of-age beverages. After all, it’s not like I’m paying to watch.

This variety of video—often referred to collectively or individually as “the Slenderman Mythos”, which might be a spoiler—probably cannot be categorized as 100% pure ARGs, despite the inclusion of audience interaction.

While there have been ARGs much more in line with “The Beast” and “I Love Bees” (as in “financed by the marketing budget”), the independent side of the genre had once apparently consisted solely of Slendermen, slender men, and video static. People can easily say they are fans of ARGs without having heard of “The Beast”, nor Haley Joel Osment.

There’s no need for me to post this or reference the “great potential” of ARGs, but I’d like to say the genre is either done for or was never really established.

Unfortunately, the qualities which make pure ARGs unique (multifaceted publishing, utilization of internet-based methods, the “happening event” look-and-feel) also make them hard to follow and harder to recapture (WHERE IS THAT SYNOPSIS OF THE BEAST).

This is probably the attraction of “Horror Video Series with ARG Elements” like the Slendermans. A viewer only needs to find the playlist on YouTube, and off they go to be spooked. Additionally, tertiary material is available and compiled, which is sometimes recompiled in fanmade summary videos, complete with analysis and batshit theorizing.

But nothing can save these genres because nobody thinks they need to be saved…and fewer enthusiasts are asking if things could be better. As far as I know.

People can make money from these videos, and with miniscule expenses (taking the torch from Blair Witch), and I think that’s great. The guy from “TribeTwelve”, at present, gets over $400 per video, along with selling an hour-long Skype call with himself for $50, and more than one person has given him money for this. I should have decided to write about this very fact in lengthy detail.

But I’m finding my inability to winnow all this down into a comprehensive essay a little telling.

There seems to be too much of not nearly enough going on here with ARGs.

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Perhaps the Slendermans and ARGs only appear to be more than games, or more than videos, or more than video-games, and are just stories that would fizzle in better-established forms of fiction. Empty and all style, without all that much style.

With their great potential came their downfall…and their freedom from boundaries has only caused them to be unabatedly misguided.

This is where I find myself regretfully aware of the many hours I have had with these blasted things. Why do I bother, and do I even like them?

The hidden unlockable secret crypto discoveries are minimal and unlasting, or they confuse me as to why and when the series do catch on with a fanbase. Whenever interactive mysteries or find-the-stuff puzzles get involved, the viewers talk about whether Dude O’Character is telling the truth instead of deducing the solutions. While ARGs are lauded for encouraging communication among the audience, forums on which one can read the discussion either dwindle in a matter of weeks or the community restricts newly-interested individuals from being active members by means of cliquing.

Yeah, it sucks! The deterioration of ARGs could be a microcosm of humankind and society…but, hey, whatever! Plenty of books out there…

The Slendermans also seem to carry more value as social engagements than as entertainment. The men responsible for “Marble Hornets” previously earned revenue by recording themselves playing video games and eating chips. I think people have always sought to know their heroes (fanmail), and now we can. If they rudely ignore our tweets, at least we can team up with like-minded people around a shared interest, which, in this case, would be them!

Now, again, my personal experience with these “horror video series with ARG elements” is a little tainted by history. I seriously doubt anyone feels the same way I do about them.

Either a person likes them completely or they don’t like them at all, and unkindly so, and all of this is not even a matter of polarized opinions. The videos are targeted viciously, and they are defended with vigor and pride.

Really, I don’t understand why anyone would waste time with them unless they are young and broke. I probably wouldn’t bother if I hadn’t before bothered.

On the side, someone I chat with came up with a great replacement term for these not-quite-ARGs—”Piff”, which doesn’t stand for anything but means “A YouTube series with ARG elements”. If it stands for anything, it’s “Personas from the Internet in Found Footage”. Piffs.

Sometimes I wonder if my enthusiasm for piffs isn’t actually triple-meta, as in my interest in the series could be the only interesting thing about them.

Myself, I wouldn’t pay $1 to tune in, and I’m not sure if anyone else would. The people who give them money apparently do so in a friendly manner, as a kickback, or a favor—social value. The small-scale productions seem more approachable than network television’s latest hit drama that people say is breaking down all the barriers. A person is also more likely to affect “EverymanHybrid” than next summer’s Pixar movie.

I guess I get why people would perhaps watch the Slendermans, but I don’t know why someone would want to make one, since so many people already do it. Not much more can be accomplished that hasn’t yet, aside from more of the same. Five years ago, maybe, it would have meant something.

Now it is almost more noteworthy to not do something or to not make something, and that sucks.

So I guess they must enjoy it, or at least they want to make their efforts be put to use.

Somehow, somehow…I have more to say about this. Two down. Two to go, Jerkface.

The Acceptance of Probable Defeat

Okay, you jerk, I will make this blog and then no one, including you (or excluding you) will read it, which will bring up the eternal question. If someone posts their thoughts and opinions online and nobody reads them…were they ever stated?

The fallen tree will never know.

This initial post is the result of a bet, and I don’t feel like being the proverbial Freddie Prinze, Jr. to the hypothetical tiny brunette chick whose name I have forgotten. And, to be honest, I hardly remembered the name of the guy-hunk and if I would ever tell that to anyone I know, they would stare at me and ask how that could be possible.

Possible ironic icon identity perplexity.

There’s a catchy title. I don’t have a title for this post yet, nor have I one for the blog.

Perhaps I will search my soul for it!

What makes this better and more stupid is that blogging is nothing personally new for me, at all. After the honorable Jerkface Betson brought up his greatly inventive “proposal” and “challenge”, I recalled the days spent in high school, when my friends and I each had our own Blogspot account. We would post about things I don’t quite remember any more.

In fact, I don’t even know what the title for my old blog was. No, actually, I remember the title, and after looking it up just now, I see it has been luckily deleted from the server.

You’ve been spared, world/no one. You have been spared.

What do people blog about now and where do they do it? The internet has changed and I don’t exactly like paying attention to it. Or, whenever I do, for an occasional hour or so, I quickly log off and go for a walk.

It’s no longer an inviting place.

Twitter seems strangely (overly) pivotal to me and I want to know whether or not Tumblr is named after a cup, and then Facebook silently took over MySpace, and Instagram is not SnapChat. Gamers twitch, nobody watches television by themselves, a person has to wait ten minutes between comments, and film enthusiasts can earn lots of money by asking questions which all begin with “Wouldn’t they…?”

The world is weird, now that I notice it.

People have the urge to speak up on and about everything, too, and yet most of those comments go unread.

Suddenly, everyone is a publicist, and they are trying to sell themselves as people they may or may not be. Perhaps in our self-definition we are losing ourselves. TM 1977, Somebody Else

There wouldn’t be much of a point in being totally honest.

Also of not much use would be posting my thoughts for nobody to see. But I will win the bet, Betson! And my posts will not be about adjusting to life in a different country! The only thing I will mention is that the coffee has been pretty good so far, but I suppose in a place where everyone is supposed to know French, such should be expected. Poing américain, Nord-Américaine, cafe américain, frigo américain.

Tell me if I used those correctly, please.

I don’t even know where I’m going to post this yet.

Since you’ll be the sole reader, assuming you really read this, I might as well leave you notes, requests, and reminders…doing that makes as much sense as posting a “public blog”. Can we talk about the idea behind the term some more? It’s paradoxical, I think.

It’s almost like a person should only blog if asked—important people can blog but it feels pretty stupid doing this. (So you know, Betson, I am not important.)

I wouldn’t read this blog. I probably wouldn’t read most blogs. There are hundreds and hundreds of years of books out there, and libraries let people borrow them, without charge!

Who cares what I think? Who cares what anyone thinks? What makes people care what others think? Call and no response! Why, hello, and good riddance!

But people enjoy doing it, I guess. Good for them!

What did I blog about back then? You also should have given me a word minimum. My old blog had pictures.

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So, no. I don’t think this will be good practice.

Don’t worry about the microwave. Now would also be the appropriate time to forcefully insert the sentence describing how you’re currently lying quietly on the couch, perhaps asleep and definitely unaware of what I am doing despite being the sole reason for doing it.

However, with that couch so many inches away, the bet must still be won, and it will be won by me.