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Urban Legend Study


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#1    Rhomphaia

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 12:33 PM

Hello all
I hope to bring some of my insight onto this topic.
To me, many urban legends might better be called fables. They have an element of morality or a lesson to them. Others just make good scary stories. Overall however, they are good studies on cultural phycology.
Would an urban legend originating in say, South Africa be the same as one originating in Canada? If an UL made its way from one to the other, how would the story change to reflect the society/religion/culture of the other? How do different societies deal with different traumas and fears and express them in urban legends?
I would like for all of you to share your thoughts on this subject. I am very interested in seeing what all of you have to say about this. Please share your thoughts.

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#2    nick_fury

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 02:53 PM

I think you are being too specific in your interpretation of urban legends Rhom. They do stretch beyond babysitter stories and psychotic killers.

The strict definition is
a folkloric and often sensational tale about modern life that is repeated in the media and by other means, making it more believable to some.

This covers any number of topics and there are urban legends about everything from coke to disney and the vast majority have no moral behind them at all, or if they do it is unintentional

I do agree with you though that they do strongly reflect the society in ewhich they are told.
In a recent Psychology class we learnt about an experiment by a guy called Bartlett who told a group of Englsih people a native American story called 'the war of the ghost' then later asked them to recall it. He found they changed the story to reflect their own everyday ives e.g. replacing canoe with boat, bow and arrow with gun.
I believe the same thing happens with urban legends and some details are lost, changed or added in the passing on, even between people in the same culture. Hence the many versions of myths which are evident even on this site

In closing I would like to thank you for finally posting a true discusional thread on here, rather than just a story for people to ooh and ahh at in one sentence replies. Cheers thumbsup.gif


#3    Nadia B.

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 03:27 PM

Urban legends do tend to change depending on where they are told and who's telling them.  They also change through time to reflect today's society.  15 years ago a fightened call from a phone booth would now be a frightened call from a cell phone, for example.  

It seems to me, though, that while the older UL's do have moralistic issues, the "newer" ones are more told for the scare factor.  They sometimes have no meaning at all.  Is this because of TV/movies/media?  We like to be scared so we make up these stories that reflect the horror of our time?  It seems that UL's now follow the example of so many horror movies, meaning no lesson to be learned, no point in the story.  Not to say that I don't like horror movies--I do.  Just a thought.

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#4    nick_fury

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 03:36 PM

But again, you are thiknig of Urban legends exclusively as horror tales, that is in fact not all that they are guys!!! honestly read snopes.com, horros is like one of about 25 sections on this urban legends site.

Anyways...I suppose the loss of morals could reflect society's change. I would hazard a guess that in years gone by, these stories were told to children by their parents as a warning to prevent behaviours seen in the stories. 'Don't go up to the woods to...copulate with your significant other as a guy with a hook hand will slay you' 'Don't open the door in the dead of night, it could be someone dangerous', similar if you like to 'the boy who cried wolf'.
Yet in todays society of cheap thrills and fast times, that is all these are, creepy entertainment stories to keep the young amused and awake at night in terror. Have we lost our way in the world??? are we all on the slippery slope to anarchy??? or am I just reading into this too deep  laugh.gif


#5    Nadia B.

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Posted 18 July 2005 - 04:46 PM

Toooo deep. grin2.gif Yes, I frequent Snopes.  And no, they're not all horror stories.   But these are the ones I tend to hear the most about.   thumbsup.gif

By the way, my mother sends me emails all the time (I swear, one day I'm gonna report her as spam) about the awful things happening and how women need to be careful and blah, blah, blah.  She gets superpissed when I respond with an article from Snopes discrediting the email. tongue.gif It's cut down on a lot of it.  thumbsup.gif

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#6    Rhomphaia

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 06:42 AM

It is truly amazing how many people buy these things hook, line and sinker. Even when some of them go over the top like the 'Lightning Fused Lovers' that was recently posted here.
What is the reason for this? Could it be that people are taking the 'truth is stranger than fiction' axiom way too seiously? Could this actually be changing this axiom to 'half-truth is almost as strange as fiction'?
I do not know why people believe in all of this, but I will not call Urban Legends garbage. They can be entertaining or insightful, except when taken as trivia fact, then that is not good.
But taking my questions from above, why do all of you think that people buy into these so easily?

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#7    nick_fury

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 06:50 AM

That is a puzzler  huh.gif
I honestly have no idea other than that some people lack the essential everyday life skill that is...common sense  tongue.gif
Or maybe people like to think these sorts of things go on, and the world is a lot more exciting than it actually is. In fact I suppose it's kind of like conspiricists


#8    Rhomphaia

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 07:19 AM

I suppose it could be either of those things.
If it were about thinking the world was a lot more exciting, I wonder if they also secretly wish something like that happened a little closer to home. I mean, is it more interesting to tell a tale that starts with 'A long time ago in a town far, far away...' or 'You know, last month my cousin was...'?
Personally, I think the latter would.


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#9    nick_fury

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 11:20 AM

Thtat's probably why most urban legends are happen to that elusive character the 'friend of a friend'
You know, I think we've got this sussed Rhom  yes.gif


#10    Rhomphaia

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Posted 19 July 2005 - 12:39 PM

Yeah, yer right. If someone else has a different view on this, please share but for now, I am letting this one go.

"We are not here to bend aught...We are come to cleanse."
-Brother Grissom.

#11    Monkyburd

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 02:29 AM

QUOTE
It is truly amazing how many people buy these things hook, line and sinker. Even when some of them go over the top like the 'Lightning Fused Lovers' that was recently posted here.
What is the reason for this? Could it be that people are taking the 'truth is stranger than fiction' axiom way too seiously? Could this actually be changing this axiom to 'half-truth is almost as strange as fiction'?
I do not know why people believe in all of this, but I will not call Urban Legends garbage. They can be entertaining or insightful, except when taken as trivia fact, then that is not good.
But taking my questions from above, why do all of you think that people buy into these so easily?

I myself have been working on expanding my own knowledge of Urban Legends and Scary Stories for a few years now. A well told (and well executed) tale can send chills down just about anybody's spine... and I have been working on perfecting my ability to deliver scary stories to an audience for the best results.

The reason people are so quick to believe such tales, despite common sense and reasoning, is simply fear. Fear is extremely powerful, and fear can override logic in an instant, and leads the mind into an area of confusion and disorientation. I believe that is why Urban Legends are so easy accepted and spread.  thumbsup.gif


#12    First of Two

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 12:33 PM

Someone once tried to explain to me that the reason Urban Myths are so widespread in so many cases is that, quite simply, people want to believe them. In some cases, this is obviously a flawed logic- I mean, who wants to believe the serial killer stories about the improbably smart "jigsaw" types who killed 30 people and the police have no motive and an assumed MO? But many urban myths serve as warnings, tales of joy, great love stories and generally funny stories... people want to remember them as true for the purpose they serve.

The same person also told me that Urban Legends are the immortal Bastion of the pseudo-intellectual. Urban Myths have a lot of power that they're not credited for- they both reflect and bring out the very best, and the obsessively worst in mankind, and I think myself that a lot of people are drawn to that- whether they feel the need to be or not. Pseudo-intellectuals(in particular, pseudo-intellectuals who sport a low to non-existent humanity) love to try manipulating the facts around to create views that suit them and see how many people believe their views using creative wording and nearly obsessive searches for the most credible sounding BS.

Then there's the BOTB "new age folklore", such as snopes, straightdope, knowledge and every UM show on the air except for Mythbusters. Sources like this earn the absolute contempt of not only folklorist, but newspaper journalists as well on the grounds that they, quite frankly, make a lot of sh** up. It's definitely pretty bullshit- I've found myself quite a few times wanting to believe their crap- but the fact remains that they're still full of it. Not only that, but they don't bother with actual folklore a lot of the time, instead focusing on the following:

Celebrity smearing
Political mudslinging
Propoganda
Email spams
Social satire
Claims exclusive to the host city of the program(and often not even spread enough to be an urban myth there).

Groups like this don't even carry "instant" UMs most of the time, unless it's cashing in on a trend, such as John Henessy's car crash(and the claims that a lot of people celebrated it meaning there'd be no Napolean Dynamite 2 if it was true). I've also noticed that many of these groups have quite a few claims going around about them and their discussion groups.


#13    Monkyburd

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Posted 27 July 2005 - 10:26 PM

^^^^^If you don't have anything nice to say....  rolleyes.gif




#14    kourui

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Posted 28 July 2005 - 03:58 AM

i still like to hear stories from it... original.gif

keep your eyes in the stars...coz you'll never be one...

#15    First of Two

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Posted 30 July 2005 - 07:38 PM

QUOTE(Monkyburd @ Jul 27 2005, 05:26 PM)
^^^^^If you don't have anything nice to say....  rolleyes.gif

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Actually, that WAS nice... at least for me. The truth isn't nice a lot of the time, and I find sugar-coating it to be an insult to both your intelligence and mine. On many things, you'll find that I can be(and have been) nice, and more than polite, but there are many things where the truth about them is UGLY. Even sugarcoated, it's ugly.

I don't know who said this, but this quote said it all:

"The worst terrorist you can ask for is someone writing a truth or opinion that you don't want to hear. A well-worded truth or well-validated opinion threatens more than life- it threatens the ideals for which a person has adopted(or been coerced to adopt), and challenges them to go beyond human nature into the realm of thinking as an individual. Hitler, Stalin, Jong-ill and GW Bush all realized this- that's why they tried so hard to censor their own nations against people who didn't agree with their ideas."





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