Talk:Urban legend

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Urban legends can be morality tales or syncretic assimilation of two similar stories, and can say something about the given culture. (talk) 16:31, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

Where would the rebranding of Father Christmas by the coke company, and Walt Disney's drowning lemmings fit in? (talk) 16:31, 28 March 2011 (UTC)

How do urban legends and shaggy dog stories (which topic is not sufficiently-RW-worth for an article of its own - but possibly worth a subparagraph here) interrelate? (talk) 16:37, 26 May 2011 (UTC)

As an example of possible conflation:

There is apparently an urban myth that 'rich people' constructing designer basements and below, rather than paying for the digging machines to be 'pulled out' are having them buried underneath the floors.

In fact some tunnel digging devices are driven into the walls and entombed once they have been finished with.

Did the latter and 'diss the rich' inspire the former? (talk) 15:48, 23 June 2014 (UTC)


Are there any other analogous categories of legend (rural, seafaring etc) - or is a certain population size required to sustain them (this, it is said, applies to 'the oldest profession' and others where a client base is needed). (talk) 14:48, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

I would not put too much stock in the dictionary definition of "urban" in this context. This type of legend began to flourish in the era of email, forwardable to a whole list at the click of a mouse button. It was also possible with earlier tech— I once saw a spirit-copied (faint purple ink, glorious aroma) paper instance of it come home with my kids from elementary school. (It was the "beware the blue tattoo LSD" legend, FWIW.)
One might as well call them the "legends of civilization" since this category of stories don't play well in a small village or rural community, where most of the participants are known to each other. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:12, 1 July 2014 (UTC)
It was a general query - and 'urban' is probably synonymous with 'large enough community/interlinked group of villages' for it to be known that there are people whom one does not know or will encounter, and where the frequency of 'similar peculiar/unlikely events' is sufficient for generic stories to emerge. (talk) 16:42, 2 July 2014 (UTC)
At what point in the long transition from large villages to 'first cities' did (a) urban legends, (b) survivalists, (c) nimbys, (d) Daily Express equivalent readers (e) football-equivalent chants deriding the opposition team and supporters, emerge, and in what order? (talk) 16:51, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
I had always understood "urban" to mean "modern" in this sense. At least modern when compared to Robin Hood, King Arthur or Jesus Beowulf.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 17:22, 14 July 2014 (UTC)
Aye, and I would place "modern" as some time at or after the spread of samizdatWikipedia and the technology that made it possible: carbon paper, typewriters, mimeographs or ditto machines. It really took wing with widespread FAX machines and computer networking, even before the world-wide intertubes became a thing. To get a sense of the genre, I recommend reading some of the relevant books by Jan Harold BrunvandWikipedia. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 17:48, 14 July 2014 (UTC)

(reset) Shall we split hairs and say that as with the 'how would you like your haircut? In silence.' joke some components of what are now called urban legends do have a long history/can be compared directly to certain folk stories (or both provide the same 'warning').

Letters of the 'let us do a deal on this dead person's fortune' type of a century ago are virtually identical to the present emails (having seen some). (talk) 16:03, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

That seems to resemble a 419 scam more than an urban legend. Been a while since I read The Vanishing Hitchhiker or the others of that ilk, but Brunvand may have explored the antecedents of the urban legends he studied. Sprocket J Cogswell (talk) 16:13, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Also a century ago is still relatively recent - I hope to live that long. But sure, modern urban legends may have ancient roots. But that doesn't stop the current incarnation being modern.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 18:06, 16 July 2014 (UTC)
Shall we say that #some# fairy tales and #some# urban legends have the same intent - to provide warnings, summarise several events that did happen, and similar purposes.

Has anyone else come across the 'man strangled by his tie getting stuck in a fax machine sending a document' story? (talk) 15:16, 18 July 2014 (UTC)

No - but, seriously, that almost happened to me once. Got my tie caught and started to get drawn in. Obviously you switch it off, but it's not that easy to think clearly as you are being drawn towards the thing.--Bob"I think you'll find it's more complicated than that." 07:40, 19 July 2014 (UTC)
In the version I heard 'it was lunchtime so nobody else was there, and the switch was out of reach.'

The main differences between fairy tales (and fables etc) and urban legends are (1) the level of background technology and (2) the identification of the narrator character - 'this friend of a friend' or 'named narrator character' respectively. (talk) 14:03, 25 July 2014 (UTC)