Friday, 1 April 2016



Last time I looked at the infamous Creepypasta story of Mr Bear’s Cellar, 1999. Now, as Dark Web reaches double figures (they grow up so fast!), we focus our attention on a kids’ show with an equally nefarious purpose — Where Bad Kids Go.

Where Bad Kids Go is one of those rare Creepypastas for which it is very difficult to trace an origin.
The oldest version I’ve found is only a couple of years old (and can be found at the Creepypasta Wiki here) and claims that the original author is unknown (a statement that could be true, revealing that the story is far older, or merely introduced to add an extra element of spookiness). The story is comparatively short and follows in its entirety below.

I must have been six or seven when I lived in Lebanon. The country was ravaged by war at the time, and murders were common and frequent. I remember during a particularly vicious era, when the bombings rarely stopped, I would stay at home sitting in front of my television watching a very, very strange show.
It was a kids' show that lasted about 30 minutes and contained strange and sinister images. To this day I believe it was a thinly veiled attempt on the part of the media to use scare tactics to keep kids in place, because the moral of every episode revolved around very uptight ideologies: stuff like, “bad kids stay up late,” “bad kids have their hands under the covers when they sleep,” and “bad kids steal food from the fridge at night.”
It was very weird, and in Arabic to top it off. I didn't understand much of it, but for the most part the images were very graphic and comprehensive. The thing that stuck with me the most, however, was the closing scene. It remained much the same in every episode. The camera would zoom in on an old, rusted, closed door. As it got closer to the door, strange and sometimes even agonizing screams would become more audible. It was extremely frightening, especially for children's programming. Then a text would appear on the screen in Arabic reading: “That's where bad kids go.” Eventually both the image and the sound would fade out, and that would be the end of the episode.
About 15 or 16 years later I became a journalistic photographer. That show had been in my mind all my life, popping up in my thoughts sporadically. Eventually I'd had enough, and decided to do some research. I finally managed to uncover the location of the studio where much of that channel's programming had been recorded. Upon further research and eventually traveling on site, I found out it was now desolate and had been abandoned after the big war ended.
I entered the building with my camera. It was burnt out from the inside. Either a fire had broken out or someone had wanted to incinerate all of the wooden furniture. After a few hours of cautiously making my way into the studio and snapping pictures, I found an isolated out-of-the-way room. After having to break through a few old locks and managing to break the heavy door open, I remained frozen in the doorway for several long minutes. Traces of blood, feces, and tiny bone fragments lay scattered across the floor. It was a small room, and an extremely morbid scene.
What truly frightened me, though, what made me turn away and never want to come back, was the bolted, caged microphone hanging from the ceiling in the middle of the room...

Original author unknown

It’s a deeply unsettling read, with a legitimately horrific premise. The anonymous author is a pretty talented writer and gives us just enough detail to give his story some credibility, even if the flair for the dramatic gives away his intention.
Of course, as is so often the case with Creepypastas, there are plenty of people who believe this story has some basis in fact.
The most important detail is undoubtedly that this was a show aired in Lebanon. 

Situated in West Asia and bordering Syria and Israel, it is country that is not unfamiliar with the horrors of conflict. The Lebanese Civil War raged from 1975 to 1990, while the South Lebanon Conflict was fought from 1985-2000. Subsequently the Second Lebanon War broke out in 2006, while the turbulent Syrian Civil War spilled over into its neighbour as recently as 2011 and has continued in some form to this very day.
We are all well aware of the atrocities that can take place in wartorn nations, so is a violent and terrifying form of propaganda used to threaten children into behaving really so far fetched?
There have been tales of terrible civilian casualties during the more recent conflicts in the country (it is believed that a staggering 30% of the Lebanese casualties during the 2006 war were children under the age of 13). This certainly isn’t the right place to discuss politics, but suffice it to say that a great deal of the current problems in the Middle East can be seen to have influenced or been influenced by the tumultuous last 40 years in Lebanon.
It is a little cynical to base a horror story in this very real and frightening backdrop. What’s more, it is sure to cultivate believability in a Western audience who may not be particularly well-informed about the situation in Lebanon (especially teens, the main consumers of Creepypasta) and who may merely recognise it as ‘that place in the Middle East often mentioned on the news where a lot of fighting breaks out’.
And the believability of the story cannot be doubted — not just among Westerners but even among people from the area, as this forum post proves. 
But questions to its legitimacy aside, Where Bad Kids Go has a pretty big web presence in other ways. As well as the obligatory YouTube readings (such as this one, which has racked up an astonishing 325,000+ views), there are efforts to recreate the show and the anonymous photographer’s investigation, plus variations on the tale that tell the same story, just with additional details and embellishments.
Clearly, this is a horror story that resonates with the audience. The reason for this is simple — it is a horror story that has the power to genuinely horrify.
Where Bad Kids Go hits so hard because it deals with that most shocking of taboo subjects — violence against children. This is a crime that the most depraved and reviled real-life monsters have committed, and with evidence that recordings exist in which children were assaulted by the likes of Moors murderers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady, or Fred and Rose West, it isn’t entirely beyond the realm of plausibility that a despotic regime may incorporate such means to control a subjugated populace.
And this is another of the story's strengths — that it taps into the inherent mistrust between all of us and the most senior figures of authority. Conspiracy theories have been a staple of horror fiction and urban legends for some time, and since the middle of the 20th Century there has been a noticeable backlash against the perceived ruthless actions of those with power. It’s not too much of a stretch to imagine tyrannical leaders using any means necessary to control us. Okay, maybe it's a bit much to imagine it happening over here in the West, but the story encourages the reader to think: ‘in the lawlessness of those faraway countries we’ve never, nor will we ever, visit, maybe they’d actually do it.’
For while the story is fantastically well-told and contains some dreadfully dark and disturbing imagery, ultimately it works on a far more sinister level. It encourages the reader to imagine the worst acts man is capable of, then allows us to combine that with our often uninformed opinion of those ‘less civilised’ parts of the world. In short, it borders perilously close to preying on ignorance.

I’ve not been able to uncover any truth as to whether or not the show Where Bad Kids Go ever existed, but as nearly every single mention of the show is on dedicated Creepypasta or creative sites, I remain extremely sceptical. Of course, to many readers out there that lack of evidence will matter not a jot — their own opinion about the subject matter will be powerful enough to fill in the blanks.
But perhaps I’m over-analysing?
For in the end the enjoyment of the story comes from the way in which it allows our imaginations to fill in the gaps and create the sickest monsters our own minds can conjure. And in this way, it is a resounding success.
Join me here next time when I’ll be looking at a very different type of monster — one which is among the most prolific Creepypasta characters of all time.

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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