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Transcript of Urban Legends
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What is an Urban Legend?
Legends that arise spontaneously
Rarely traceable to a single point of origin
Varies in the telling + always second-hand
Can spread via word of mouth, writing or even e-mails
Usually a cautionary tale
Rarely ever true
Also similar to urban legends:
Fairy Tales and Fables
Folklore and Legends
Urban Legends in America
Urban Legends in Europe
Urban Legends in Asia
Urban Legends in Africa
Types of Urban Legends
URBAN LEGENDS AROUND THE WORLD
- The vanishing hitchhiker; Gang initials; "keep out" zones
- Rats and mice in pre-packaged food; razors in candy
Just for Laughs
- Man takes out an insurance policy on an expensive box of cigars, smokes them all and then tries to collect a claim, saying that they had been damaged in a fire
The Vanishing Hitchhiker
Urban Legends Over Time
The Hooked Hand Killer
1990s - Focus on
[as opposed to single lunatics]
A young couple on a date drive off to a remote spot to "park". Over the radio, they hear that a psychopath with a hooked hand has escaped from a local mental institution. The girl wants to leave, but her boyfriend insists there's nothing to worry about. After a while, the girl thinks she hears a scratching or tapping sound outside the car. The boyfriend assures her it's nothing, but at her insistence, they eventually drive off. When they get to the girl's house, the boyfriend goes around to the passenger side to open her door. To his horror, there is a bloody hook hanging from the door handle.
This story circulated around the '50s when parking was still new.
Don't go off by yourself
Don't engage in premarital intimacy
Speaks to the anxieties, fears, and changing conditions of society
Taps into emotions
Speaks loudly to society’s concerns and priorities
Storytelling is a source of information sharing and entertainment
You Know it's an Urban Legend When....
A mother and her daughter are eating at a Neiman Marcus store. After their meal, they order a couple of Neiman-Marcus chocolate cookies, which they enjoy immensely. The mother asks the waitress for the recipe, and is told that she can buy it for "two-fifty." Later, when she sees the Neiman Marcus charge on her credit card, she realizes that she has been charged $250, rather than $2.50. The customer-service representative refuses to refund her money, because the company's recipe is so valuable that it cannot be distributed cheaply. In order to exact revenge on the company, the mother claims in the e-mail, she has decided to distribute the recipe freely over the Internet, and she encourages you to send it to everyone you know.
Neiman-Marcus Cookie Recipe
What are some common elements in a typical urban legend?
Why are we so inclined to believe such outrageous stories?
What is your favourite urban legend?
Little Red Riding Hood
The Curse of King Tutankhamun
The Vanishing Hitchhiker
Alligators in NYC
The Kidney Heist
The Killer in the Back Seat
The Hooked Man
The Clown Statue
Dead Body in Mattress
Harris, T. (n.d.). How Urban Legends Work. HowStuffWorks. Retrieved December 20, 2013, from http://people.howstuffworks.com/urban-legend4.htm
Cantrell, M. (n.d.). URBAN LEGENDS: WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM? . URBAN LEGENDS: WHY DO PEOPLE BELIEVE THEM?. Retrieved December 21, 2013, from http://wakespace.lib.wfu.edu/bitstream/han
Students at University of Illinois. (n.d.). Unit Progression - Urban Legends Conceptual Unit. Urban Legends Conceptual Unit. Retrieved January 4, 2014, from http://urbanlegendsconceptualunit.weebly.com/unit-progression.html