The cursed internet folklore about the tall, willowy and faceless menacing figure that haunted your childhood is about to make a comeback this summer. Prepare for the return of the twisted tales that convict the foul creature of stalking, abducting and preying on children on the lonely streets, in the spindly and fogged woods and in the basement of your home. The legend is about to come to life. The nightmare is about to become more real than ever before.

The boogeyman of the 21st century, also known as the infamous Slender Man, first appeared in 2009 as a Creepypasta, which are horror-related legends or images that circulate on the internet. The figure quickly turned into a meme as people began to photoshop the horrid figure into black-and-white photographs, often lurking in the background prior to preying on children. The legend became so popular it earned its own video game in 2012, known as “Slender: The Eight Pages.”  Six years later, in August 2018, Sony Pictures will release it’s very own “Slender Man” film.

The legend, thankfully just fictitious internet folklore, is accused of inspiring various crimes nationwide — most notoriously the stabbing in Waukesha, Wisconsin. Citing Slender Man as their inspiration, two twelve year old girls lured their classmate into a wooded park, stabbing her 19 times to “prove their loyalty” to the fictional character.

The jury did not let age be a mitigating factor in the appalling trial, charging the teenagers as adults to the fullest extent of the law. Anissa Weier, now 16, was recently sentenced to 25 years in a mental hospital after pleading guilty to attempted second-degree intentional homicide. Morgan Geyser, now 15, will be sentenced in February. The prosecution requests that she be sentenced to as many as 40 years in a mental hospital.

The release of the trailer earlier this month sparked controversy when the father of Weier claimed the film to be capitalizing on a tragedy. There have been various expressions of concern regarding the production due to the potential of rehashing the pain that the tragedy inflicted on the three families involved in the stabbing. People are now petitioning to stop Sony from releasing the movie.

Though Sony Pictures has not yet responded to the concern, the capitalistic intentions behind the production are clear. It’s both apathetic and disturbing to profit from the pain and the gruesome reality of trauma and sorrow victims of the event have and may still be enduring. Even if the film doesn’t reference the case directly, to showcase such a recent event of horror in a form of entertainment is simply repulsive.

Conversely, horror films are an expression of art — they are, after all, a genre of fiction. Well-budgeted, well-done and exceptional productions can be a powerful form of art, one that is able to mediate the evolutionary and innate human emotion of fear and evoke a unique form of sympathy. Horror movies allow an audience to experience and sympathize with the terror that the characters face in the story being told. When these emotions are fully mediated, it marks an impressive and creative success for the producer.

Unfortunately for Slender Man, the timing and context of the production are so blatantly distasteful that it overrides the artistic expression. It is completely inappropriate to profit from such a recent tragedy, indirectly or not. The capitalistic incentives quickly come into question. For such impactful and emotional reasonings, it would only be reasonable, considerate and humane for Wisconsin to prohibit the film from being shown in theaters, particularly given the story’s proximity to home.

Ayaka Thorson ([email protected]) is a freshman who is currently undecided.