By: Jennie Brouse and Katherine Seeley
It is not a shock that people are interested in true crime. Since the major serial killers in the 70s and 80s, people are fascinated to learn more of the horrors and torture people endured by these horrible men. In recent years, true crime viewers have skyrocketed. Netflix has put documentary after documentary out about “famous” serial killers and the true crime community is loving it. However, their love for it has grown into love for serial killers and that is not acceptable.
When “The Ted Bundy Tapes” came out on Netflix in 2019, girls were in love with Bundy. They would make jokes saying they would let him kidnap them and do whatever he wanted to them. Those comments escalated when the movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” came out. The man they casted to play Bundy was Zac Efron. If people were not in love with Bundy before, they were now. The amount of comments I would hear about how hot he was in the movie was incredible, and it made me sick.
People who believe serial killers are attractive and misunderstood are wrong. Since the tv show “Dahmer” came out on Netflix in September about Jeffery Dahmer, people on TikTok have praised the series and made jokes about the victims. Viewers flocked to Twitter to say they believe Dahmer is misunderstood and wanted to stop but could not. They believe he is a good person deep down. Here is a reality check. A good person would not rape, torture, murder and eat his victims. He killed 16 men, one of which was a minor. Dahmer even murdered a 13-year-old boy. Yet people believe he is misunderstood and wanted to change.
Dahmer did not want to change. He wanted to murder those men and he kept doing it over and over again. Praising serial killers takes away from the lasting impact the victim’s families have faced. There is nothing funny about the crimes Dahmer committed. There is nothing funny about the 30 young girls lives Bundy snuffed out. Serial killer culture is toxic and needs to be put to a stop. People should not be singing the praises of men who murdered innocent people.
Treatment of families is another major issue when it comes to true crime culture. It seems victims’ families get pushed aside frequently in favor of a more “juicy” story. A recent example can be in the aforementioned “Dahmer” series that came out earlier this year. Victim Errol Lindsay’s sister, Rita Isbell, has come out against the show, citing that just hearing about it has been retraumatizing. Especially a scene where Isbell herself is being depicted. “It was ‘here we go again,'” she said.
The victims themselves also tend to be pushed aside by the media. People don’t know them by name except as (insert infamous serial killers name here)’s victims. Acknowledging the victim before acknowledging the person who killed them is a great way to start disconnecting them from their killer and giving them the respect they deserve as people.
There was a letter allegedly written by the Zodiac Killer where he says he wants to “make (his) victims (his) slaves in the afterlife.” Reddit user @Dragon_Saints9 pointed out that in a metaphorical sense, he got his wish as “these victims are forever known as ‘victims of serial killer X.’” This person is absolutely correct, their victimization has become their legacy. The person that killed them got to define the way they were remembered.
I believe victims deserve more recognition than what they are given. I highly believe that the best way to look at true crime is to look at the victims. Listen to and read about their stories; learn who they are as a person. Give them the justice they deserve by not permanently associating and attaching them with the person who took their lives from them. Their victimization may be how you find their story, but do not let it be what defines their story. They deserve more and we can do better as a society by recognizing them.
Sources: www.houstonpublicmedia.org , Reddit