Urban Legends

I’ve been fascinated with Urban Legends for years, especially the creepy ones, and sometimes I’ll spend hours reading about them, even if some of the stories are ones I’ve read before

An urban legend, urban myth, urban tale, or contemporary legend is a form of modern folklore. It usually consists of fictional stories, often presented as true, with macabre or humorous elements, rooted in local popular culture. These legends can be used for entertainment purposes, as well as semi-serious explanations for random events such as disappearances and strange objects.

Urban legends are spread by any media, including newspapers, e-mail and social media. In America in 1938 a radio dramatization of The War of the Worlds supposedly caused mass panic, though the program had a relatively small audience.

Some urban legends have passed through the years with only minor changes to suit regional variations. More recent legends tend to reflect modern circumstances, like the story of people ambushed and anesthetized, who awaken minus one kidney, which was supposedly surgically removed for transplantation

The term “urban legend,” as used by folklorists, has appeared in print since at least 1968. Jan Harold Brunvand, professor of English at the University of Utah, introduced the term to the general public in a series of popular books published beginning in 1981. Brunvand used his collection of legends, The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends & Their Meanings (1981) to make two points: first, that legends and folklore do not occur exclusively in so-called primitive or traditional societies, and second, that one could learn much about urban and modern culture by studying such tales.

Many urban legends are framed as complete stories with plot and characters. The compelling appeal of a typical urban legend is its elements of mystery, horror, fear or humor. Often they serve as cautionary tales. Some urban legends are morality tales that depict someone, usually a child, acting in a disagreeable manner, only to wind up in trouble, hurt, or dead – such as the boy who cried wolf.

Some of my favourites include The Black Dog, Bloody Mary, Chupacabra, Hookman, Killer in the Backseat, The Licked Hand, and the Vanishing Hitchhiker.

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