Teens summon demon? ‘Charlie Charlie Challenge’ hits social media

27 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

A Mexican Demon Named Charlie Is the Internet’s Newest Urban Legend.

A seemingly demon-possessed pencil that moves when it’s asked a question has taken the Internet by supernatural storm as teens and others try what’s called the “Charlie Charlie Challenge.” The fad has created a frenzy of posts online, racking up nearly two million tweets on Twitter in just the last month as delighted – or demented – devotees of the Ouija-board like craze post their results of their run-ins with this occupant from the other side.If you are one of those crotchety people who believe the kids these days are somehow less inspired than generations before, then I come bearing new evidence: Even their superstitions are lamer than ours! “Charlie Charlie,” a game/Internet urban legend of sudden and inexplicable popularity, surged to the top of the global social media charts this weekend after kicking around on the Spanish-language Internet for much of eternity. Take two pencils and place one on top of another in a cross and put those on top of a piece of paper marked into four squares that say yes, yes, no and no. We’re talking about the Charlie Charlie Challenge, a sort of DIY Ouija-board craze that’s sweeping Hot Topics and junior Satanist circles across the nation.

A few weeks ago it was the #KylieJennerChallenge, which resulted in plenty of #KylieJennerChallengeFails, and left kids in need of medical attention with damage to their faces. Wait until gravity kicks in, ignore how gravity works, and have yourself a documented meltdown over the spookiness of borderline-obsolete writing utensils moving slightly. Ask the question “Charlie, Charlie are you here?” and the top pencil will magically move to the correct answer as you and your friends scream hysterically and run out of the room.

While it’s hard to pin down an exact country of origin, Charlie Charlie (also spelled Charly Charly) has a long history as a schoolyard game in the Spanish-speaking world. That’s because you have succeeded in contacting Charlie, who is either a malevolent Mexican demon or a 9-year-old boy who killed himself or died in a car wreck or something. The idea of summoning an otherworldly spirit through group incantation has been a thing people have done to freak themselves out for years, chanting “Bloody Mary” in front of a mirror or chanting “Beetlejuice” after thinking too much about the volatile career of Michael Keaton.

Players ask questions which are then answered by a “Mexican demon named Charlie.” As pointed out by many, there is no demon in Mexican folklore named Charlie. The pencils-on-a-grid-moving-to-signify-supernatural-presence has the familiar pull of pareidolia—when your mind tricks you into reading meaning into random or meaningless stimuli.

Traditionally, this version with the crossed pencils was called the “Juego de la Lapicera” — a term that still turns up lots of creepy stuff on Google — and “Charlie Charlie” was a distinct game, played with colored pencils. After thoroughly freaking yourself out and/or FINALLY figuring out which One Direction member you’re going to marry, proceed to upload your voodoo vid to Twitter/Instagram/Vine/ any other social media site your parents have definitely never heard of it.

It’s the same thing that happens when you play with a Ouija board, and it has the same nonsense exoticism as Ouija (which was invented by an American businessman, despite the foreign-sounding name). Either way, it’s a fright for afterlife aficionados who have been filming their screams of terror when the demonic writing instruments respond, and posting them online. The BBC looked into where the whole “Mexican” element got thrown in, and concluded that it isn’t based on any known folklore from south of the border. “There’s no demon called ‘Charlie’ in Mexico,” says Maria Elena Navez of BBC Mundo. “Mexican legends often come from ancient Aztec and Maya history, or from the many beliefs that began circulating during the Spanish conquest.

The fad even has a Catholic priest weighing in with a warning that young people should not open themselves up to demonic activities no matter how tempting and a reminder that “there is no such thing as‘innocently playing with demons,” because it “opens a window of possibilities which is not easily closed.” In either case, both have always had demonic or supernatural connotations; one site calls Lapicera “the poor man’s Ouija board.” It’s always hard to say exactly why these things trend, but the latest bubble seems to have begun in late April in the Dominican province of Hato Mayor, when a local TV news station broadcast a very alarmist (and unintentionally funny) report about the “Satanic” game overtaking local schools. Of course, these tweet-happy tweenagers aren’t just Hogwarts rejects employing the dark arts to ascertain the exact date of Justin Bieber’s upcoming album release. What if this latest #CharlieCharlieChallenge leads an individual to make the wrong decisions based on an “answer” given to them by a fictional demon?

Allow us to recall the terrible tragedy of the “Slenderman case,” in Wisconsin, in which two girls devoted to a fictional character created on the Internet sought to impress him by stabbing their 12-year-old classmate 19 times in the woods. In 2008, a user called twilightfan posted a story about playing the pencil game to contact “a ghost named Charlie that had died of child abuse” on YourGhostStories.com. Per various corners of the Spanish-speaking Internet: a child who committed suicide, the victim of a fatal car accident, or a pagan Mexican deity who now convenes with the Christian devil. While I can’t say for sure what the game will or will not do for any one individual, certainly a game that has an alleged diabolic association cannot be good, especially for an emotional teen.

One popular screenshot details Charlie’s sinister motives while emphasizing the importance of ending every seven-minutes-in-hell session with a polite “Charlie, Charlie can we stop?” Apparently not saying goodbye is a foolproof recipe for a good old-fashioned haunting. It’s not clear when Charlie morphed into a specifically Mexican demon, but once the paranormal fad went viral, it didn’t take long for Christian fearmongers to warn against calling on the nefarious spirit world via DIY Ouija. This practical PSA has been floating around Twitter, often with the caption “RT to save a life.” While Charlie Challengers have clearly been looking out for their own, a Philadelphia priest has taken matters into his own hands in an open letter to his student. I mean, you should definitely care if you’re seeking supernatural answers to your life questions. (Excepting questions about love, death and money, which — per certain versions of the legend — Charlie will not answer.) Even if that doesn’t exactly describe you, though, Charlie makes a killer case study in virality and how things move in and out of languages and cultures online. French explained that “it can generate a very strong impression that the movement is being cause by some outside agency, but it’s not… with Ouija boards you’ve got the whole social context.

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