Folklore: Contemporary Legends

1. The Hook

This is a contemporary legend transmission because it lacks supernatural elements within its contents, and shows how various threats invade our space. Similarly, it shows how people are anxious about boundary issues. It qualifies as a contemporary legend because it has been in circulation in recent times and reflects the cultural reality of adolescents during that period.

Over the years, this story has been told and retold by different people. There are various versions of the story but the moral of the stories remain the same. In contemporary legends, women are often depicted as being vulnerable and weak, while the men are portrayed as the villains or heroes. These characteristics are present in this story and classify it as a contemporary legend.

2. Screaming Jenny

As is with most contemporary legends, this story has anxiety as its backbone. It preys on the readers fear for the unexplained and warns of a danger that lurks even in places we think are safe. Similarly, the authenticity of the story is not determined and the story has been retold many times over the recent years.

The fact that the location of the incident exists in reality gives the reader the illusion that the story could be true. This is a characteristic of a contemporary legend. In addition, the woman (Jenny) is portrayed as a weak and vulnerable character who even after dying comes back as a ghost in pursuit of rescuing from men (the heroes/Villains).

3. Army of the Dead

In this story, the laundress is portrayed as a victim of her own curiosity. Despite the stern warning from her husband, she simply can’t “leave well enough alone.” As a result she ends up suffering the consequence of her disobedience. This story falls under the contemporary legend category because it has a moral (messing with the unexplained can lead to dire consequences), the laundress is depicted as a vulnerable and weak individual and the soldiers (army of the dead) are portrayed as heroes going to help win the war.

These characteristics make for a contemporary legend. The story preys on the reader’s fears by implying that there are consequences when one interferes with the supernatural. In addition, the story has been retold numerous times and there is no clear indication on whether it is true or false.

4. The Driverless Car

One for the main characteristics of a contemporary legend is that it lacks the origin/ source of the story. This can be evidenced from this particular story, which is narrated as a hear-say from a FOAF (friend of a friend). Secondly, it lacks supernatural elements and has eloquently shown how the events invade and threaten an individual’s space, safety and security.

Additionally, this story depicts how a culture (carjacking and ghost stories) can influence an individual’s perception in regard to what exists, and what he/she believe happens. Similarly, it has a twist in which the authenticity of the victim’s narration of the events are questioned after witnesses to the same occurrence walk into the cantina and dismiss the victim’s claims. These are among the characteristics that make the Driverless Car a contemporary legend.

5. The Clown Statue / The Clown Doll

This story is narrated as a hear-say. The source is not identified and there are no specific details leading to the occurrence. It focusses on the fears of teenaged baby-sitters who are paranoid about the presence of uninvited predators lurking in the dark as they wait for the opportune time to attack.

Similar to most contemporary legends, this story portrays the baby-sitter as a weak and vulnerable woman whose space, safety and security are threatened. In addition, the man (in this case, the clown midget) is portrayed as the villain. On the same note, it lacks a supernatural element to it.

The story reflects on the culture that baby-sitters are often attacked especially in big houses by unknown assailants and that parents fail to believe their children even when they are in fact telling the truth. These are some of the characteristics that make this story a contemporary legend.

6. The Legend of the Pearl

This story explains the origin of the pearl. It gives a detailed description of how pearls came to be. It qualifies as a contemporary legend because the source is not identified and there are no specific details about how the situation came to be. The butterfly and the shell are given human emotions to support the plausibility of the story.

On the same note, this story lacks supernatural elements and focuses on the culture of love. It shows that there is happiness and sadness where love can no longer be found. The story is a classic representation of the complexities of love. These are among the characteristics that make it a contemporary legend.

The pearl is a symbol of the virtuous nature of love that can be experienced in today’s society. The use of a butterfly and a shell symbolizes today’s love culture, which goes beyond racial, ethnic and tribal differences.

7. The Legend of the Fir-tree

This is a contemporary legend because it explains the origin of the Fir-tree and why it is used during the Christmas festivities. Like in most contemporary legends, the woman is portrayed as vulnerable and weak individual while the man is depicted as the hero who sets out to save the damsel in distress during her time of need. On the same note, there is no indication on whether or not this story is true.

In addition, the source, location and details of the contents of the story are not given. The story focuses on the culture of togetherness during the festive season and shows that as long as we have the Fir-tree in our homes, we are not alone. These are some of the characteristics that make this story a contemporary legend.

8. The Body in the Bed

This is a contemporary legend because it lacks main details about where the events of the occurrences happened and who witnessed it. In as much as the location is revealed, the story does not have enough evidence to ascertain whether it is true or false. On the same note, the woman (the body) is portrayed as the victim while the man is depicted as the hero.

Similarly the story lack a supernatural element and is based on a hear-say. The story reflects on contemporary culture in which people believe that Las Vegas is where people can easily be killed and hidden without other people noticing. In addition, the story reflects on the don’t-care attitude that people in today’s society have towards each other.

9. Black Aggie

This story qualifies to be a contemporary legend because it seeks to discourage the youth against the dangers of hazing/pranking. This culture has been in existence for a very long time and though it is considered as a rite of passage it may have serious negative implications on an individual’s life.

As is with most contemporary legends, this story does not have a source of origin or evidence to substantiate its validity. Similarly, it shows how the unknown threatens an individual’s safety, space and security. The moral of the story is that individual’s may face serious consequences when they interfere with the unknown.

It seeks to discourage young people from playing dangerous games in sacred grounds. In addition, the story targets the reader’s fear of the dead especially so in cemeteries. The story’s ability to reflect on a popular culture and imply consequences from undesirable actions are among the characteristics that make it a contemporary legend.

10. Bear Lake Monster

One of the factors that make this story a contemporary legend is that it has been retold several times in different variations. It has a supernatural element that seeks to elicit fear in the mind of the reader and audience in regard to the dangers that lurk around Bear Lake.

The story seeks to warn people against swimming in Bear Lake alone. In addition, the story focuses on mystical beliefs held by people regarding supernatural creatures that prey on unknowing victims in places where they think they are safe. On the same note, the validity of the claims asserted by the story cannot be confirmed nor denied. These are among the various characteristics that make this story a contemporary legend.

11. I’m coming down now!

This is a classic example of a contemporary legend. It focusses on the popular culture in which people believe in haunted houses all over the world. The content of the story seems believable but there are no facts to support the claims. Another factor that makes it a contemporary legend is that it is based on hear-say in which it is narrated from a FOAF (friend of a friend) perspective.

As such, the origin, location and details leading to the occurrence are not validated. Similarly, it shows how the unexplained threatens the space, security and safety of an individual. On the same note, it contains a supernatural element which is supposed to induce fear and anxiety in the minds if the readers. These are among the various characteristics that make this story a contemporary legend.

12. You can’t get out!

This story is a mixture if dreadful perceptions and humor. The town drunk believes that he has met his doom and the devil has come to reclaim him for his wrong doings. This story reflects on the culture in which people believe that God will punish them for their wrong doings.

On the other hand, it is humorous in the sense that the town drunk misjudged the whole situation and panicked. The validity of the story is not ascertained. It has no supernatural elements and shows how an individual’s perception or misconception regarding a situation may threaten his/her safety, space and security. In addition, it is narrated as a hear-say meaning that it may or may not be true. These are among the various characteristics that make this story a contemporary legend.