Sunday, June 12, 2011

Men In Black

No, not the movies. I'm talking about a number of bizarre phenomena reported from all over the world, in a number of situations. There are three classifications that I can see. One is the "men in black" reported occasionally in conjunction with UFO reports. They're human-looking, if a little odd, drive late-model, brand new black Lincoln Town Cars, and often sound robotic or otherwise unusual. Second are what are currently referred to as the "Slender Man", tall humanoids with unusual features (exceedingly long limbs, lack of facial features, etc...). The third has a much deeper history, a number of names, and not many substantiated reports: the Grinning Man.

I'll start with the familiar ones. The Men in Black. The general story for them is that their mission is to harass and threaten UFO witnesses to ensure their silence. A lot of people peg them as government agents, but I'm a bit hesitant to accept that. Back in the 1950s I could see government interviews of witnesses under Project Blue Book and the Condon Committee, but that wasn't the "keep your mouth shut or bad things are gonna happen" sort of thing. Back then the US government were actively interested in the UFO phenomenon, and gathered reams of top-secret data on it. Since then they've really dropped out of it. And if you think about it, what do world governments have to gain from suppressing UFO reports? I favour a somewhat different approach. The only "people" with something to gain from keeping UFOs quiet would be whoever is flying them. Now, that doesn't mean that all UFO reports are alien craft, but about 100 gathered by Project Blue Book have yet to be explainable. Add to that the unusual manner of the MIBs, and there's a definite basis for them being affiliated with extraterrestrial life, or even being some form of alien themselves.

A possible Slenderman ritual site
Next up is what inspired this post. The Slenderman phenomenon. I use that name, originated on Something Awful, because it's recognizable, and descriptive. Tall, lanky, strangely-formed, and quite often considered an urban legend, beings of this description are fairly common through history. A good starting place would be the skeletal beings depicted as personifications of Death in the medieval "danse macabre" woodcuts. From the plague years, the "doctors" who attempted to treat the Black Death bear a striking resemblance to it. Between then and now things get a bit fuzzy, historical accounts being what they are and all. It seems, however, that in recent years the sighting of similar beings have been on an upsweep thanks to the availability of information on the internet. Of course, some of these can be attributed to wanting a good story to tell, but I figure there's something out there, and whatever it is, it's tall. I really don't have much to go on for a theory here. Best guess is either interdimensional or some sort of human sub-species.

Finally, there's the Grinning Man. This one gets a bit creepy. Reports of an eerie grinning figure go back to the beginnings of human history, possibly coming from the alternate meaning of what we consider a smile. What's considered an expression of happiness is construed as a threat by most primates, and you can see a similar baring-of-the-teeth response in frightened animals such as dogs and cats. Of course, there's also the resemblance of a pale, grinning human to the familiar Death's Head skull, or Totenkopf. For the purposes of this, I'm going to focus on a single report of the Grinning Man, the 1966 "Indrid Cold" incident. This one's become heavily associated with the Mothman sightings in the same area, culminating in the Silver Bridge collapse. On November 2, 1966, a man driving down the I-77 near Point Pleasant, West Virginia. An unusual flying craft appeared near his car, and the Grinning Man proceeded to exit it and "speak" to him via telepathy or some other nonverbal communication. A short exchange followed, in which the "man" identified himself as Indrid Cold. The exact details of what transpired there are rather sketchy, but suffice to say it was distinctly unnerving for all involved. This is one of the few times I don't think there's what you'd call a "terrestrial" explanation for what happened. Given the history, and the events afterwards, I'm inclined to consider Cold and the Mothman (that's another post there) to be connected, and a sort of omen or token.

Dedicated to and written for a friend.


  1. An explorer in things you do not understand. Stay observant and nothing more, or learn to defend self. Small warning. Also, suggest lookat 'defendersagainstslenders' blog, may help if continue to dive into such things.

  2. That's an interesting bit about the Slender Man. I'd never really considered it related to the ancient skeleton motif, but it makes sense, and it probably partially accounts for why so many people found the Slender Man so subconsciously terrifying when he was "created" in 2009.

    Cultures tend to recycle storytelling tropes, so I'm sure lots of them have their roots in the very earliest parts of humanity's history. It's intriguing how certain things can trigger such a profound, primitive sense of dread.