Serial killer films need to end

Ashley Hines

The past few months have birthed a new wave of series surrounding the personal lives of serial killers. While this trend certainly garners views, its depiction of gruesome criminals as misunderstood victims of society promotes a dangerous narrative empathizing with the serial killer rather than those who were senselessly murdered.

Netflix recently released a docu-series Jan. 24 centered around tapes from serial killer Ted Bundy’s trial.

A film starring heartthrob Zac Efron as Bundy is planned to be put on the streaming platform later this year. Prior to this release, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was portrayed by Disney star Ross Lynch in the film “My Friend Dahmer,” released June 1. A movie centered around Charles Manson’s crimes titled “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” will be released July 26.

The most obvious reason for these films and documentaries is people will watch them, meaning the companies producing them will make money. Society’s fascination with serial killers speaks to unappealing aspects of humanity — people express a strange interest in or derive an inexplicable pleasure from serial killer stories.

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“Things are interesting if they are both complex, and the person has the coping potential to handle that complexity,” Amanda Durik, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies for the Psychology Department, said. “Something intriguing about serial killers is they’re fairly rare, so there’s a novelty component. It’s also incongruous, meaning it’s hard for most people to imagine why a person would be motivated to be a serial killer.”

The infatuation with serial killers extends further than an interest in the lore surrounding them. The modern day is seeing a similar reprisal of the cult followings and groupies serial killers had at the time of their crimes, according to a Dec. 28 Washington Post article. When someone as popular and appraised as Efron plays someone as horrific as Bundy, it only makes sense people associate feelings of admiration for Bundy.

These films are adding to the existing problem of romanticizing perpetrators of awful crimes. People wrote romantic fanfiction about Parkland shooter, Nikolas Cruz. Chris Watts, charged with murdering his wife and children, receives love letters in prison. With every man convicted of a publicized, abhorrent crime, there is a group of women flocking to their aid.

All of these sentiments stem from inclinations these criminals can be saved with love or are not the ones to blame for their actions, according to a Sept. 28 CNN article.

“It’s very weird to hear people romanticize killers who brought so much pain and grief to other’s lives,” Julia Hoelzer, first-year human resource management major, said.

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Although Bundy died 30 years ago, there are survivors of his crimes and family of those he murdered. The family members have to watch as the person who murdered their loved one is immortalized in a Netflix series or film adaption.

Lisa Little, childhood friend of Bundy’s final victim, 12-year-old Kimberly Leach, said she wishes there were a documentary about the young women whose lives Bundy ended, according to a Jan. 31 First Coast News interview.

So long as people keep these murderers alive through glorified portrayals, true justice will never be achieved. People must stop focusing on the offenders and remember the victims they took away.