This is the beginning of a series of posts looking at some of the basic elements of urban legends. These are the telltale signs that a story that you hear from someone is in fact an urban legend. The interesting thing about urban legends is that they show up in unexpected places and are often taken as fact without anyone bothering to see if they are true. These places can include the Internet, school, work newspapers and television.
If you hear a story, there are many ways you could determine if it is an urban legend. In this post I will discuss one of the basic beginnings I have found for urban legends.
“Did you hear about the guy? Did you hear what he did?”
These two questions begin many urban legends. You hear about some sort of mysterious person who did something amazing or weird. It’s also possible that the weird or amazing things happened to them. The difference is the details are never the same or are incredibly vague in the first place. Let’s look at an example.
“Did you see the guy in the Halloween costume? He attacked a bunch of people. It was on a talk show!”
This is an urban legend that circulates occasionally. This example repeats the feature of the urban legend as being about an unspecified person many times. The guy in the costume has no name. If the event had happened recently, the talk show would’ve given a name for their guest.
The costume a person wears will also change over time. Some versions of the story will have the attacker wearing a Bo-Peep costume. They will sometimes be dressed as a clown. Often the guy will be dressed as whatever horror movie character is popular at the time.
Another changing detail of the story will be the host of the talk show which also changes depending on the popular talk show of the time.
There are other details that makes these tales detectable as an urban legend. Those will be discussed in future posts.
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Thanks for reading,