Urban Legends Essay, Research Paper
A Sneaky Blind Man
I feel as though an Urban Legend is a story passed on by each generation, mostly being false, but having some truth to it, said Phil Donohue. As a boy, his older brothers told him many stories, at the time he thought they were true because he trusted them, now looking back he sees that they were just urban legends. Urban legends are tales with morals in them and are passed along, and maintained through ignorance and assumptions by the audience without any scientific proof (Morse 29). Compared to storytelling or telling a joke, legends tend to be longer, slower, and more serious. (Brunvand 321). They are usually set in contemporary times, taking place in shopping malls and coed dormitories and sometimes dealing with AIDS and inner-city gangs. To keep up with the current time the legends continue to be updated with new details being often added and old ones dropped or modified. When dealing with why urban legends are told, how people believe them, and who creates them, legends become very complex.
Usually, the legends include several different versions that people chose to believe as true without actual evidence concerning the story. The same story can have a number of forms, with different detail shifting depending on who tells it. As said by Jan Harold Brunvand, People say that they [urban legends] have a life of their own because they grow and change as if they were living as they are passed from person to person (Brunvand 98). For example, the urban legend called The Blind Man has many different versions of the story that has changed throughout time. Some of the different versions do not even contain the same characters, or plots, but includes the same basic moral. The legend must be able to keep up with the current times. The storyteller usually drops and adds new facts to make the legend more convincing, depending on the audience (Brunvand 29). Some legends tend to localize, with the addition of details placing the event in a town nearby (Mikkelson).
People try to tell legends to raise social concerns and fears, and to explain unusual and supernatural happenings. With cautionary tales, legends warns people against engaging in behaviors that put them in risk by saying it happened to others that did the same. In the case of The Boyfriends Murder, the moral of the legend is implied to teenagers and youth in regards to avoid certain situations that may put them or those who with them in danger. Some help to confirm our belief that the world is not perfect with murderers, drug addicts, and people who do not care for others (Mikkelson).
Robert Poolock, author of Good Luck, Mr. Gorsky, suggested that we are prone to accepting stories that do not directly contradict our personal experiences as being true because we have an underlying need to increase our understanding of the world in which we live. Some people find a certain urban legend believable because they help to confirm their personal worldview. For example, one that sees the world as being a place where strange and remarkable things are happening all around them might find the strange urban legend they hear easier to believe than someone who perceives the world as being uneventful and ordinary. Many people can distinguish some stories as being an urban legend, because they are contradicted by their personal experiences and knowledge. A person might believe an urban legend more if the source they received it from has a trustworthy relationship with that person (The Blind Man).
A few urban legends create hoaxes to cause alarm and concern by those who take enjoyment from doing so. People who have came across humorous or remarkable story and wishes to personalize it for themselves create some. Others are formed by people who think of remarkable situation or idea that they believe to entertain others or want to make a point about the story. In other cases a different urban legend might be created by people who cannot remember the details of a story that they have heard or read.
Why do people tell urban legends like The Blind Man ? It s not possible to identify any one reason why people tell urban legends; the reason will differ from person to person. Some people tell them in first, second, or third person (or, I saw it happen, my friend saw it, or my friend s friend saw it), but in actuallity the true event happened to someone entirely unknown to person telling the story (The Blind Man). Legends are passed along in oral and written form. There are many different classification of people who tell urban legends. The believers will tell a legend, because they believe it is true and think other people should know about it. Another, fence sitters tell one because they suspect it is true. If the legend illustrates an opinion or worldview the substantiaters will tell it. They feel it serves a purpose to tell it, they may or may not believe it is true. A self-promoter tries to make themselves appear more interesting, by telling the story and acting like they are related to story some how. If one tells an urban legend to see the shock, or to charm the audience, he would be classified as an entertainer. A skeptic tells an urban legend to show that it is false.
The origin of urban legends still remains a mystery to all. No one knows who first used the phrase ‘Urban Legends’ to describe unreal tales. For more than forty years, studies show urban legends a serious form of folklore with Jan Harold Brunvand and Gary Alan Fine vigorously searching for the meaning of it. Urban legends have existed since the turn of the 20th Century. They continue to develop from the informal oral communication traditions, which is included in every culture since the beginning of storytelling. . They started to develop when people began to reject stories about dragons, witches, demons, and mythical characters.
The urban legend called The Blind Man has numerous versions. When speaking to my grandmother about The Blind Man she said, Over my time, I have heard many different versions of the legend. I have read many of them in the Reader s Digest. It s incredible how over time sex gets incorporated into stories. The original version of the legend, in Reader s Digest in 1958, has a Venetian blind repairman picking up some faulty blinds when a family was at the breakfast table. He rang the doorbell saying, I m here for the Venetian blind. The wife went to get her purse coming back with money and placed it into the repairman s hand, then closing the door and returning to the table. When returning she explained, Some body collecting. This earliest version of the story, which appeared in the mid-1950 s, left out the nudity element, which is in the current legend. In the earlier legends, upon hearing the guy at the door identify himself as the blind man, a clothed woman (always a woman) opens the door and hands him money thinking he is collecting for the disadvantage.
Modern versions of the legend features a naked housewife, who either took off her clothes to do a big cleaning job or she was just about to get in the shower. When a man knocks at the door saying he is the blind man. Thinking there would be no harm done by just going to door naked if he was blind, she opens the door. Standing at the door was the man, but he was not blind, instead he had a handful of blinds. Another version includes two nuns that were to paint a room. The last instruction of the Mother Superior is that they must not get any paint on their habits or clothes. After contra plating about it for a while, the nuns decide to lock the door of the room, strip off their habits, and paint in the nude. In the middle of the project, someone knocks on the door saying it was the blind man. The nuns decided that no harm could come from letting a blind man into the room. They open the door, seeing a man with a handful of window blinds and his mouth wide open. Another version of The Blind Man appeared in Reader s Digest in 1967, it stated that a collection box appeared in a college post office marked: Help The Blind Fund. It filled up rapidly with small change. One day it was replaced by a card, which read: Thank you for your contributions. The Venetian blinds for our dormitory room have now been purchased (Mikkelson).
In our culture urban legends can survive if they have three important qualities, a strong basic story-appeal, somewhat believable, and a meaningful moral to the story. Take The Blind Man for instance, the legend catches the attention of the audience and anyone would believe that a woman might go to the door naked if she thinks it is a blind person. The moral of the legend is never to take what someone says literally, so many saying have completely different meanings and could one into trouble. Not only the different meaning of phrases, but also never go to the door when one is naked no matter what. The Blind Man fills some of our culture needs by letting ones escape from reality and a desire to validate by anecdotal examples some of the culture s ideals (Brunvand 322). An urban legend like The Blind Man has many different properties, such as different versions, how different people tell it, and how it was started. Urban Legend altogether, makes people wonder why they are even told and what the points of them are. Some might even wonder how people believe legends or who still creates them.
The Blind Man. 2 Feb. 2001
Brunvand, Jan Harold. How Urban Legends change to fit new circumstances. Skeptic. 2 (1999): p. 98.
—. The Boyfriend s Death. Fields of Reading. New York: St. Martin s Press, 1998.
Mikkelson, David and Barbara. Urban Legends. 2 Feb. 2001
Morse, Ken. Urban Septic Legends. Journal of Environmental Health. 5 (1999): p. 29-30.
Urban Septic Tanks
The article is about a man who goes to a two day training session for systems. During one of the discussion hours, the topic of detergent came up. Some of the other trainees, said that Brand X had been know for build-up in sewage lines. After thinking about it, he remember that he had used Brand X for sometime. He goes saying how expensive it is to have your sewer pumped. One should check for themselves the level of sewage they have by different methods. As professional sites, he thinks, they should step up and disclaim these urban legends. It is their responsibility to do so. He goes on saying way urban legends exist is because of ignorance and assumptions made by people.
How Urban Legends Change to Fit New Circumstances
Brunvand researches if cow tipping is true or not. He finds that it is false. Cows actually sleep quite of bit lighter than humans do. Therefore, would wake up easier. Cow don t even sleep long hours like human do either. He finds that it is extremely hard to sneak up on a herd of cows. Cows are quite alert, and if anyone comes near they run away. Plus, they are much bigger than the average human. Cows way ten times as much as humans. It seems like teens enjoy it more because it is an excuse to pile up in a car to go and do something. Brunvand ends with different slang for urban legends. Monkey sandwiches came from the Dutch urban legend that sausages and sandwich meat came from monkeys. Brunvand also researches the movie Good
Will Hunting. He has found that there are documented cases of a boy actually solved a equation.