Payton Leutner has spoken out for the first time since she was stabbed as part of attacks inspired by Slender Man.
In 2014, after a night of roller-skating at the local rink, Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier took their friend Peyton Leutner to the woods.
They stabbed her 19 times, leaving her to crawl out onto a path, where a cyclist found her. All three of the girls were twelve.
Geyser and Weier had apparently been planning this for months. It was all inspired by Slender Man—the infamous tall, thin, child-eating demon who started as a concept on Creepypasta and later ingrained himself into a generation's minds through a series of Photoshopped images and gory Internet threads.
Yesterday, the now 17-year-old Leutner spoke out for the first time since the attack. She appeared on ABC's 20/20 program, which airs this Friday night, and she apparently said that she still sleeps with broken scissors "in case someone tries to murder her again."
As for why she's decided to speak out, she said, "I feel like it's time for people to see my side rather than everyone else's."
Most of the information that exists about the Slender Man stabbing concerns Morgan and Anissa, both of whom are currently in mental institutions. But this story really began over a decade ago, in the darkest and most infected laboratory known to man: the Internet.
The first mentions of Slender Man appeared on Creepypasta's Something Awful forum. It was 2009, the era of MySpace and early Internet, and a user named Victor Surge responded to a request for spooky photos by submitting an image of a tall, thin man without a face. It was captioned, "We didn't want to go, we didn't want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time. — 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead."
From there, Slender Man became a viral meme, the modern equivalent of a popular folktale. Evading fact and authorship, Slender Man instead seemed to exist only in echoes and whispers. Always skeletal, thin and faceless, usually seen in the woods, he fit into the old, monstrous archetype of the children-snatcher, being the kind of specter used to discourage children from running away into the night. But unlike the cryptids and stringy-haired witches that are so common in horror movies, he has no precise precedent in folklore.
Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier
What happened to Peyton Leutner is an absurd, random tragedy, one that evades logic. It is evidence that the things the Internet dreams up can come to life. It plays into the deepest fears of every parent who has allowed their children to go out at night or go online (regardless of the fact that very few people actually are moved to violence by what they read about online). In that, it's a tale that feels particularly resonant in 2019, when it's becoming clearer that we have far less power over the Internet than we imagined, and when we know that powerful men wearing suits have been stealing children away for quite a long time.
But maybe sometimes, all this violence can become a catalyst for healing. Inspired by what happened to her, Leutner has decided to become a doctor. When asked if there's anything she would say to Morgan Geyser, Leutner said she would thank her.
Leutner said, "I would probably, initially thank her," Leutner said.
"I would say, 'Just because of what she did, I have the life I have now. I really, really like it and I have a plan," she said. "I didn't have a plan when I was 12, and now I do because of everything that I went through. Without the whole situation, I wouldn't be who I am. I've come to accept all of the scars that I have. It's just a part of me. I don't think much of them."
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The quarterback said "I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country." And then he tried to apologize. And only made it worse.
Drew Brees, a man who makes literally millions of dollars for throwing a ball, has come under fire for insensitive comments he made about NFL players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police brutality.
"I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country," Brees said in the interview with Yahoo Finance. He clarified that this was in part because he envisioned his grandfathers, who fought in World War II, during the National Anthem. He continued, saying, "And is everything right with our country right now? No. It's not. We still have a long way to go. But I think what you do by standing there and showing respect to the flag with your hand over your heart, is it shows unity. It shows that we are all in this together. We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution."
This isn't the first time Brees made it clear that he cares more for the idea of a make-believe unified America than he does for actual human lives. In 2016, he criticized Colin Kaepernick for kneeling during the anthem, saying it was "disrespectful to the American flag" and "an oxymoron" because the flag gave critics the right to speak out in the first place.
Colin Kaepernick kneeling in protest of racist police brutality
Of course, the flag's alleged ideals have been proven to only be applicable to wealthy, white men—men like Brees. Sure, his grandfathers did a noble thing when they fought under the US flag during WWII, and no one, including Kaepernick, has ever said that sacrifice isn't worth respecting. Thanks to the sacrifices of many people (including the enslaved Black backs upon which this country was built, including the scores of routinely abused Black soldiers who fought for American lives), America has offered opportunity and peace for many, many people. In particular, Ole' Glory has been very kind to men like Brees: rich, white men who still control the majority of the power and the wealth in the United States.
But what about the rest of us, Drew? What about George Floyd whose neck was crushed by a police officer who kneeled on him so casually that he didn't even take his hand out of his pocket? What about Ahmaud Arbery, who was shot for the crime of being Black and going for a jog? What about Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was murdered by police in her home in the middle of the night for a crime that had nothing to do with her? What about Tony McDade, Drew–have you heard his name? Have you heard about the 38-year-old Black trans man who was gunned down in Florida last week? Do you understand why these people's family's may harbor just a bit of disrespect for your precious flag?
Is it possible for you to realize, Drew, that your wish for "unity" is not a wish for progress, but a wish to maintain the status quo? When you call for unity under the American flag, you're talking about your flag, the flag that represents a long, sordid history of racial oppression and violence. There is no unity where there is no justice. When you say that "we are all in this together," what you're saying is that we all have roles to play in the version of society that has served you so well. For your part, you'll be a rich, white man, and for Black people's part, they'll continue to be victims of state-sanctioned murders– but hopefully more quietly, hopefully in a manner that doesn't make you uncomfortable?
When you say, "We can all do better. And that we are all part of the solution," what you mean to say is that POC and their allies are at fault. Sure, you probably agree that Derek Chauvin took it a bit too far, and you probably feel a little self-conscious that he's brought all this "Black rights" stuff up again. But when you say "all," you place blame on the victims who are dying under a broken system. And what, exactly, do you expect POC to do differently, Drew? Ahmaud Arbery was just out jogging, and still he died. George Floyd was just trying to pay a cashier, and still he died. POC and their allies try to peacefully protest by marching in the streets or taking a knee at a football game, and still white people condemn and criticize. Still the police shoot.
After much criticism, Brees did attempt an apology on Instagram, where he posted a hilariously corny stock photo of a Black and white hand clasped together. His caption, though possibly well-intentioned, made it even clearer that his understanding of the movement for Black lives is thoroughly lacking.
Highlights of the "apology" include his immediate attempt to exonerate himself from culpability, claiming that his words were misconstrued, saying of his previous statement: "Those words have become divisive and hurtful and have misled people into believing that somehow I am an enemy. This could not be further from the truth, and is not an accurate reflection of my heart or my character." Unfortunately, Drew, white people like you are the "enemy," as you put it, because by default you are at the very least part of the problem. No one is accusing you of being an overt racist, Drew; no one thinks you actively and consciously detest Black people. But your lack of empathy, your apathy, and your unwillingness to unlearn your own biases are precisely what has persisted in the hearts and minds of well-meaning white Americans for centuries.
Next, you say, "I recognize that I am part of the solution and can be a leader for the Black community in this movement." No, Drew. Just no. Black people don't need white people's savior complexes to interfere in their organizing; what they need is for us to shut up and listen. What they need is for us to get our knees off of their necks.
Finally, you say, "I have ALWAYS been an ally, never an enemy." This, Drew, is suspiciously similar to saying, "But I'm one of the good whites!" The fact of the matter is that feeling the need to prove your allyship is not about helping a movement; it's about feeding your own ego. Not only that, but your emphasis on "ALWAYS" does a pretty good job of making it clear that you don't think you have a racist bone in your body and that you have taken great offense at any accusations to the contrary. I have some news for you, Drew: Every white person is racist. Sure, the levels vary, and while you may not be actively and consciously discriminating against POC, you have been brought up in a racist system, and your implicit biases are as strong as any other white person's. Your job now is to unlearn those biases and confront those subtle prejudices in yourself and in other white people. Maybe the first step in doing so is just shutting your f*cking mouth about kneeling at football games. Maybe you should even consider taking a knee yourself.
For other non-BIPOC trying to be better allies, check out one of these 68+ anti-racism resources.
More gremlins, more demonic possession, more AOL chat rooms.
Would you rather be trapped on a raft with Kevin Costner when he has matted hair and a seashell earring or return to using AOL dial-up? Would you prefer to discover a demonic cat boy in your home or be cursed to hear every man's waking thought?
If Hollywood movie executives were forced to answer those questions, then maybe they'd show more discretion towards what source material they choose for film reboots. As of now, we're braced for a barrage of superhero flicks and live-action Disney remakes. Not that Hollywood cares, but if we're going to fall into the nostalgic void, some movies deserve revisiting more than others.
Rebooting any of these 80s and 90s favorites would be better than a sixth Grudge movie:
1.The Craft (1996)
The Craft poster that hung on every teenage girl's wall.The Mary Sue
It's the cult hit that confirmed a teenage girl and the devil are one and the same. Coming-of-age movies always find an audience, but a remake of The Craft would be a reprieve from the overly-saccharine tones of today's young adult films and CW network's teen dramas. Robin Tunney, for one, has been ready for a remake of her breakout film since 2016, when the studio first teased the idea for the film's 20th anniversary. While producers confirm they're still developing a script, Tunney regularly reunites with Fairuza Balk, Neve Campbell, and Rachel True for fan conventions and occasional exorcisms.
2. Trading Places (1983)
Trading Places explored the crapshoot of economic and racial difference.NPR
Even though Eddie Murphy favors his hit Coming to America to this John Landis comedy, he and Dan Ackroyd were excellent at exploring class and racial differences during the economic boom of the 80s. Remaking the comedy today would be a biting satire of today's socio-economic turbulence.
3. Clueless (1995)
Clueless should be rebooted for today's Uber and Postmates generation.Insider
It sounds classy to say this was loosely based on Jane Austen's Emma, but this teen flick was written purely for 90s mall rats and sexually frustrated high schoolers. We're stoked that a remake is supposedly in progress with Glow-writer Marquita Robinson, but a modern-day Clueless would be a massive undertaking, remapping the original's fashion, technology, politics, and dating culture.
4. Gremlins (1984)
We deserve more Gremlins.Creative Tourist
Original director Joe Dante has been teasing a remake of the creepy-cute horror-comedy for decades. In 2014, he acknowledged fans' fatigue with the wait: "I am not involved with it. It's something that we hear about every six months for the past five to 10 years. I know there have been many attempts to do it. It's tricky because the rights are jointly owned by Warner Bros and [Steven Spielberg's] Amblin, so you've got to jump through two hurdles to get your idea approved." More Mogwai are always welcome; if we can live with Will Smith as a big blue genie in Aladdin, we can accept anything.
5. You've Got Mail (1998)
You've Got Mail was nervous about corporate power and tech in 1998. Those were the days.The New York Times
Admittedly, outdated social features in this 90s rom-com include chat rooms, independent bookstores, and a triumphant human spirit. But reimagining the film's conflicts over corporate takeovers and communication technology would be a refreshing take on today's Amazon Prime addictions and bad Tinder dates.
6. Short Circuit (1986) / Short Circuit (1988)
Short Circuit believed robots looked like toasters.Gizmodo
It seems every 80s movie imagined the future was full of junkyard robots and abandoned laws of physics. A reboot of the Short Circuit films would bridge a comedic middle ground between Ex Machina and Wall-E. Again, our hopes for a remake have been toyed with since 2012, with IMDB claiming that writer Brent Maddock re-envisioned the sentient robot and his weird human friends: "Number 5, one of a group of experimental military robots, undergoes a sudden transformation after being struck by lightning. He develops self-awareness, consciousness, and a fear of the reprogramming that awaits him back at the factory. With the help of a troubled young boy, Number 5 tries to evade capture and convince his creator that he has truly become alive."
7. Waterworld (1995)
Waterworld's Sea Eater scene was almost worth the trauma.Film Takeout
Someone dare James Cameron to remake Waterworld. In 1995, it was the most expensive film ever made. With the Avatar director resetting this record with nearly each of his movies, he'd probably flood an entire American city to shoot the opening titles.
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