Ghosts in the Machine: CreepyPasta Narration Community Haunts YouTube [INTERVIEW]


Don’t close your eyes for this, but imagine a single candlestick burning in the dark. Blood haphazardly drips down from some unseen vein, spattering the yellow wax with a mechanical consistency — almost to the beat of a metronome. A voice pipes in, calm and eerie, detailing evil in its many supernatural forms. All the while, the candle continues to flicker, the blood continues to spill and there aren’t any explanations for what you are witnessing. Good thing there is a computer screen separating you from this nightmare, keeping you safe.

Micah Bain turned me onto one of the most fascinating and sinister realms found in the many catacombs of YouTube, and since I am always one to pay it forward, I’m now sharing it with you. Loosely called the “narrative” or “storyteller” genre, the videos in this community are alarmingly simple at being creepy — perfect for the young YouTuber without many resources. Narration videos, particularly the ones created by Mr. Bain and his cohorts, are like the electronic versions of campfire tales: short, scary stories — called creepypasta — told chilling well. Typically, a single image will play on your screen, looped ad nauseum, like that forever-burning candle, while the storyteller haunts your mind with dark fantasy. It’s all like something that Vincent Price’s zombie would dream up.

Through his YouTube account DerpandHerp, Bain, a 15-year-old with a flair for the unsettling, has been spreading word of the creepypasta world (when he’s not gaming, that is). It’s a small community still, but like the Blob of old monsterdom, it’s quickly growing and consuming new fans. So I thought I’d check in with Micah Bain and see what the hell he could tell me about the dark underbelly of vlogging.

How did you get involved with the narrative YouTube genre?

Micah Bain: In the boring end of August last year, I had a lot of time on my hands, and I stumbled upon this thing called “Creepypasta.” I was hooked almost immediately. I would sit on Skype and read these stories to my friends, and they loved it. Now, I had already had a channel with about 200 subscribers where I only made gaming videos (original, right?), and decided that maybe since my friends enjoyed it maybe my few subscribers would enjoy it. It was very easy to make since I only had a netbook at the time of starting these kinds of videos. I have since then grown to be one of the few successful (at least I consider it successful) YouTubers doing this.

Why do you feel the genre is so important to people?

A lot of people don’t like to stay on the same page for very long, and since we are just reading stories to them they can just open another window and continue listening while going on their normal routine. A few people refuse to just listen to a video, so some narrators have begun to put some sort of visual stimulant on their video, which is basically just adding special effects to stock footage. The stories within themselves are very thought-provoking and people just gobble it up like turkeys.

What are some of the other narrative worlds out there on YouTube like creepypasta (but not scary) and are you involved in any of them?

I have seen a few channels that upload their own readings of entire novels to their channels. I tried to start a series like that, but couldn’t get into it as much, so I just deleted it. Some people love it, though, so I wouldn’t say it’s not out there.

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