In light of the new and hugely popular Netflix series, “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” it makes sense to examine why our country glorifies serial killers and why it’s so wrong.
According to Deadline, the show racked up 196.2 million hours watched within six days of its release, mesmerizing viewers, but not everyone is a fan of these highly graphic films and their intended meanings.
From serial killer Halloween costumes to comic books based on killers like Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy, and many others, they’ve all become normalized in American culture. This is a huge problem. The media has taken advantage of TV shows and documentaries about killers who have done terrible things. The Conversation reported that Netflix paid Ryan Murphy, one of the show’s creators, $300 million, showing that they expected to make some serious profit from it.
It makes no sense to continue glorifying these people who have committed some of the most violent acts the world has ever seen. Similarly, Netflix named a series after Richard Ramirez’s nickname “The Night Stalker,” another attempt at using a terrifying nickname to make money. Unfortunately in our world and in all media, these names have become normalized.
Yes, most nicknames serial killers get are based on who they are and what they’ve done, but that’s still not enough. If America, with the media, continues to pay attention to these horrible people as if they were cool people, there will be more attraction towards them and people will think that what they did is good. This will make their victims feel even worse and devalue the impact of what they have done.
Bringing attention to what these serial killers have done is hugely important, but showing certain scenes and displaying characters in a certain way only minimizes the impact of their crimes. By showing these fictionalized depictions of their crimes, it has become easier for our society to normalize and minimize the severity of the horrors they caused. This may be a sign of the normalization of violence due to the increase in threats in recent years, whether related to terrorism or a threat of a school shooting.
The media and Hollywood will continue to profit from their idealization of serial killers and, unfortunately, Americans will continue to watch and believe what they see in movies about these terrible people. At the same time, it increases profits while minimizing the effects of what the criminals have done. These works also re-traumatize the killers’ victims and make them feel worse overall about what happened.
Another question to ask is, how did serial killers become so popular in movies and the media? When you look at these different movies, a lot of actors who portray serial killers are famous and well known. Actors like Zac Efron and Leonardo DiCaprio have both played the roles of Ted Bundy and HH Holmes. These actors are deliberately cast because they are meant to be beautiful and this leads to them being cast as being sweet and caring, which adds to their likability. They are also considered more trustworthy and have other advantages due to their appearance. Not only does this help romanticize these characters, but it puts the viewer in a difficult position and makes them have to love them.
It is important to understand what these people did, but we must not forget that the families of the victims are probably still in mourning. According to Today, the family of Errol Lindsey, who was a victim of Jeffrey Dahmer’s crimes, criticized Dahmer’s new Netflix show and his sister, Rita Isbell, said it was “harsh and negligent”, she says also that the creators never even contacted her about the series. This is a very dangerous trend and everyone should pay close attention to what those affected by these terrible killers think of advertising.
If Netflix consulted with the families of the victims of the killers who feature in various movies and series on the platform, they might have been able to make it less traumatic and controversial for those families. Something should have been done so that the company could better understand what happened, while making sure not to overstep the bounds and make a film that was too sensitive and traumatic.
We must not allow the glorification and romanticization of serial killers to continue. Putting them on a pedestal and passing them off as “cool” isn’t fair. Showing how vicious these people were must come before Hollywood profits.