“They’re not people, they’re creatures.”
October 24, 2018 10:20 AM   Subscribe

“With his post, Bethel created the Black-Eyed Kids (BEK for short), an internet urban legend, Slender Man for boomers. Rooted in middle class fears of the homeless, of unattended youths, and of property invasion, BEK stories blew up in the late aughts inspiring hundreds of internet “accounts” across a variety of sites, Coast to Coast episodes, several books, a series of graphic novels, and even a couple of lackluster found-footage horror movies. Like all folklore, BEK stories speak to the deep anxieties of a population that is increasingly isolated and socially alienated. It is a story for a culture that takes seriously Margaret Thatcher’s dictum “There’s no such thing as society,” only individuals.” Nightmares From The Suburbs, The online folklore of the 00s.
posted by The Whelk (17 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I was more afraid of the white religious fanatics that came to my house when I lived in the suburbs.
posted by gucci mane at 10:40 AM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

Slender Man for boomers? I heard a rumour once that there was another generation, younger than boomers, active online in the 90s, but I suppose that unlike the black-eyed kids, it never existed.

BEK were real, but they are simply called "Millennials" now that they are in their mortgage and infidelity years.
posted by betweenthebars at 11:27 AM on October 24, 2018 [14 favorites]

I churned out a BEK/Shadow People Twilight knockoff for a NaNoWriMo years and years ago. I think my basic theory was that BEKs are what cause houses to become haunted, haunted houses create shadow people, and if a shadow person infects a person they become a BEK and have to go out to start the cycle anew.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 11:27 AM on October 24, 2018 [4 favorites]

I would love to read this article, but is there any way to remove the bright yellow begging banner taking up the top fifth of the screen?
posted by a power-tie-wearing she-capitalist at 11:27 AM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

> is there any way to remove the bright yellow begging banner taking up the top fifth of the screen?

If you're using uBlock Origin, and possibly similar browser add-ons, you can do just that by right clicking on it and selecting 'block element'.
posted by Kikujiro's Summer at 11:51 AM on October 24, 2018 [2 favorites]

I can’t help but think of Oryx and Crake. I read that book with Arcade Fire’s The Suburbs on infinite repeat.
posted by simra at 12:23 PM on October 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

Seems like there's a similar bogeyman going around in some circles, BEK minus the E. Cops especially seem very frightened by them.
posted by GoblinHoney at 12:34 PM on October 24, 2018 [14 favorites]

she-capitalist, right click on the banner > inspect element > delete node
posted by glasseyes at 2:28 PM on October 24, 2018

I have never heard of this specific phenomena, so that was an interesting read... I have certainly heard my wife grown about the dumb fears people spread all over NextDoor and Facebook neighborhood groups, so it was familiar in that way. I don't disagree with the authors that people are alienated from the products of their labor, and that that creates widespread social alienation, too, but I think these kinds of phenomenon also owe to an irresponsible myth-making media machine (e.g. Hollywood's "Purge" films, and the movies named in the article), as well as segments of society that are seemingly incapable of accepting diversity into their neighborhoods.
posted by Slothrop at 3:15 PM on October 24, 2018

Agreed, betweenthebars . It's like there's a weirdly missing demographic stratum between Boomers and Millennials.
We can't name that population, and it's apparently unknown to science and culture, so let's just called them... X.

(sorry to repeat myself)
(sorry I have to)
posted by doctornemo at 3:43 PM on October 24, 2018 [9 favorites]

Also, my Generation X wife wrote a novel about BEKs. Funny that.
posted by doctornemo at 3:43 PM on October 24, 2018

Yeah. My dad asked me "why is everything zombies?" a decade ago and it took me almost as long to figure it out: In a post-neighborhood, post-family society of 7 billion nameless people, what scares us is the endless, unfathomable inhumanity of those around us. We're never going to get to know our neighbors. Their children are hollow eyes, empty appetite, and mouths full of teeth. Buy a gun and tend your garden, but don't let your guard down.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:04 PM on October 24, 2018 [6 favorites]

The absolute terror with which boomers hold their children and grandchildren cannot be overstated.

Wow, interesting take on this particular creepypasta. It absolves the experiencer from any responsibility for younger generations, which is pretty well borne out policy-wise & whatnot.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 8:15 PM on October 24, 2018

re "why is everything zombies," if you find yourself on gun enthusiast forums, sooner or later, you see someone talking about "zombie defense" with a bunch of unsubtle winks.

Reavers were Joss Wheedon's substitute for "hostile savages" in his space western. "Zombies" are "rioters."
posted by pykrete jungle at 10:18 PM on October 24, 2018 [3 favorites]

I always thought that zombie fantasies carry a particular appeal for those who want to unleash their murderous bloodlust upon the masses without consequences. It's a thinly veiled wish to brutalize as many people as possible.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 2:43 AM on October 25, 2018 [1 favorite]

To me, the Zombie thing has always been about our own fear of becoming one of the shuffling horde.
So long as we stay ahead of them we'll be okay.
So long as we shoot before they get near us.
So long as we show no mercy.
We'll survive.
posted by nickzoic at 3:08 AM on October 25, 2018

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