Ten years ago, a video appeared in the forum "Something Awful" this week, describing a lot of unlabeled tapes recorded as part of a student film project. The director had allegedly instructed to burn the tapes. But years after the project's sudden end, the narrator of the video reveals that he kept it intact and decided to analyze the footage.
"If I find anything in any of them, I will upload it to keep it as a permanent record." The narrator wrote. Within a few uploads, the audience learned a number of clues, causing the director to cancel the project. The ribbons were filled with eerie symbols and a large, crawling, faceless figure dressed in a suit.
These videos were some of the first entries in Marble Hornets an early fictitious YouTube horror series that has a cult following and still provides a buzzing fandom on all platforms. The series ran for five years and ended on June 20, the same date it began. The uploads were sporadic, some only for a few seconds. Others spanned 15 minutes, which is popular with developers today. The series is a beloved relic of the old YouTube and early Internet culture.
"In Internet years, 10 years are ancient. This could be almost as good as ancient Greece, "said Tim Sutton, one of the series' authors and actors, to The Verge . "We're only a few years away from the land of flash videos and 'You're the man now, dog." We're Vintage Internet. "
The series follows a character named Jay Merrick, played by Troy Wagner as He tries to understand what happened while creating a student movie shot by his friend Alex Kralie, while watching the tapes, Jay learns that Alex was tormented by a character known as "The Operator" and one Version of the mythical Slenderman popularized in the Something Awful Forums, members of the forum would dissect the creature into Photoshop photos and share their creations, and this community-generated content inspired the creators of Marble Hornets to create a whole series of videos dedicated to the fandom.
YouTube was a different world at the time, content monetization was more difficult and the site w ar often a secondary platform for popular Newgrounds developers to release their animations. It was not the corporate beast it's about today, with full-time creators, Sponcon, and the late-night TV clips that plague the Trending tab.
It was this YouTube that I grew up with. I spent countless hours in front of my family's boxy Dell desk in our "office," which was actually just a room with my grandfather's old rocking chair, framed ceilings, and a wood-art desk that was suitable for a computer. But on this computer, I was celebrating reaching the level required in World of Warcraft to buy a crappy mount for the first time with my guilds about Ventrilo. Here my friends and I circle to see Weebl's Stuff and Salad Fingers, and it was also the place where I incited Marble Hornets unsure if it was a fiction or a real lost Footage research game traded on YouTube in real time.
In high school, I sat in this dark office, chatting with friends about ooVoo, and watching the show together. By then, the Something Awful forums had reached other platforms, such as Reddit and Tumblr, where my friends and I could probably find it. Marble Hornets was separated from the original forum source and left me, a naive and easily persuasive 15-year-old girl, fearing that Slenderman might be real. In fact, I was so naive and persuasive that one night my older friends persuaded me, while chatting, to throw salt over my shoulders and turn around a few times to make sure the lanky, faceless freak would not kill me in mine.
It was the mystery and ambiguity of Marble Hornets that drew me to a time when the Internet and YouTube were not flooded by brands and 4K-forty-minute vlogs. Myspace and Facebook have been around for some time, but my platforms of choice, Tumblr and Reddit, were less popular and compared to baby websites. The room felt personal, and algorithms still had to determine all content that I consumed. Marble Hornets traveled to me and probably to many others through word of mouth and niche online communities where people discussed the series as if they were exploring it together with Jay.
"The rise of social media made sharing easier," said Sutton. "There were a few more forums that I think are somehow old-fashioned at the time. Having these tools to share these things has not been on the market for so long. "
Marble Hornets felt like the cult horror classic of the internet. But instead of buying a VHS tape in a kinky video store, I discovered them through threads and posts from other diehard fans.
Wagner said The Verge he was grateful for the fans who were there every ten years, but also said that new, younger children still find it today. "There are always new people joining in," said Wagner. "Something like a TV could have a problem with it because the programs disappear at the end of the TV. That always exists on YouTube.
The series is over generations. Many Generation Z children are friends and today follow Marble Hornets creators. "The fan base has gradually gotten younger," said Sutton. "I get a lot of messages from children under 14 years old. I recently received a comment on one of my Instagram posts saying that they are 11 years old, and I thought, 'Are you kidding me? & # 39; "
When I asked Sutton why he thought that kids would continue to follow and even act as cosplayers To this day, he was known for contemporary apps like TikTok and explained this based on my previous experience. Marble Hornets seems to be a universal, hidden treasure on the Internet.
"It feels like you are investigating something." You still have the feeling that you're a bit of a mystery, "Sutton said," especially because it never became such a huge, huge, huge following. "
He continued," It feels like as if people are stumbling over some sort of secret. Especially when you are younger, because it is scary. It's a kind of PG-13, but I still imagine you would hide from your parents if you were 12 or 13. I think that's part of the draw. "