Why Do We Glorify Serial Killers?


CC BY-SA 3.0 File:Kyle-cassidy-josh-hitchens-jeffrey-dahmer.jpg - Wikimedia Common

“Jeffrey Dahmer: Guilty But Insane” is a play written about Jeffrey Dahmer. It is one of several works about his life.

Everyone recognizes Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy, and Charles Manson as household names, but no one seems to remember Richard Guerrero, Lynette Culver, or Sharon Tate. This is because every piece of media that gets released to “inform” about the crimes that each person committed consists mainly of the killer, and barely mentions any of the victims that actually suffered.

Ted Bundy is a well-known serial killer. With the recent release of “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” starring Zac Efron, Bundy has become more well-known with newer generations. (CC BY-SA 4.0 File:BVCL Ted Bundy.jpg – Wikimedia Commons)

Shows keep focusing more on the killer, portraying them in a way that urges sympathy rather than focusing on the brutal acts they have committed and the people that were brutalized in return. Having conventionally attractive actors portray them in the film further begs for attention and fame for the killer. 

Actors such as Ross Lynch from “My Friend Dahmer,” Zac Efron from “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” and Evan Peters from “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” have been the most popular depictions of the overly romanticized criminal figures. Each one of them is, or was, an actor in the prime of their career when they portrayed each serial murderer, gaining attention for the show, and overshadowing the victims who should be the ones remembered.

By calling attention to these killers’ backstories in a way that is surrounded by sympathetic tones, everyone involved is feeding into the idea that the only person that is important enough to be remembered is the one who committed the crimes.

According to Deadline, the director of “Dahmer,” Ryan Murphy, has said that he contacted members of all 20 victims’ families, but he didn’t hear back from any of them. Not only did they continue to make the show without the families’ consent, but the show has received backlash from the victims’ families who claim they had never been contacted by anyone working on the show. It seems more likely that the families were never contacted or were not actively pursued than all 20 families who were non-responsive. 

Because of the rise in popularity of the “Dahmer” show, fans have begun to treat Dahmer as more of a character than an actual person who is guilty of murder, sexual assault, and necrophilia. They do this by dressing up as him and other real-life serial killers for Halloween or just as cosplay. 

The way television and movies portray real people as “characters” is revolting and needs to stop. 

On a slightly darker note, The Tab says that the reason people are so obsessed with true crime is because of the human interest factor. 

Humans are fascinated with others’ lives, so we are enthralled by seeing other humans do things that seem grotesque. Some people even venture into being morbidly obsessed with the lifelong consequences that other people have to witness and therefore deal with for a lifetime.

Plus, true crime podcasts, articles, and documentaries are everywhere, feeding into an urge that delves into dark topics that should be left in the dark. By consuming so much graphic content, people are slowly desensitizing themselves to the horror that has happened to real people. According to Global News, over-consuming content that depicts graphic violence, especially against women, runs the risk of normalizing this crime.