Erin Gardner | Lifestyle Section Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The past few months have brought a widespread trend of featuring movies about popular serial killers. In November, “My Friend Dahmer” was released where Ross Lynch portrayed a young Jeffrey Dahmer. “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” is a biopic about Ted Bundy. Zac Efron is starring as Bundy and filming is taking place in Cincinnati, Ohio. An independent film “The Haunting of Sharon Tate” is set to release in 2019 in which Hillary Duff is to play Sharon Tate. Tate was brutally murdered by the Manson family in 1969 with next year marking the 50th anniversary of the horrific event. In addition, Charles Manson’s death in November further sparked his notoriety for the killings and the cult following that he spearheaded.
Continually, there have been cult followings of serial killers on Tumblr and Reddit known as the true crime community. User tcpapi, says, “imagine a serial killer youtuber. like ‘GRWM: going out to kill’ or ‘Murder Haul’ or even ‘I almost let one get away!’ (not clickbait).”
On a Tumblr titled “Satan Represents What I Feel,” a post from user thedevilsgoddesss asks, “Can all the Richard Ramirez lovers out there please message me and we can all be friends and love our daddy together?”
“[To be honest] I don’t understand why people hate serial killers or like specifically Charles Manson lol like it’s not like you had a personal relationship with Sharon Tate or any victims like why do you fuckin care so much..?” says user sadspinach. “Idk I’m not saying murder is cool but he technically didn’t do it and again who cares.”
The nature and ethics of romanticizing or glamorizing serial killers has been called out. “Many who empathise with Dahmer tend to do so because of his shyness – because you could tell he was troubled just by looking at him,” states Marianne Eloise of Vice. “There’s also the belief among Dahmer enthusiasts that he derived no pleasure from his crimes; that the murders were a means to an end, an accidental byproduct of his quest to create a companion for himself (even though his ideal companion was a zombified human incapable of independent thought or movement).”
Generally speaking, the obsessive fascination with serial killers loses the focus of the victims, which should be the core matter. It is imperative that we, as a society, sympathize with the victims and the victims’ families, who have gone through a terrible tragedy. These serial killers, mostly men, should not be idolized as gods.
Elaine Aradillas and Alexia Fernandez of the People article “Sharon Tate’s Sister Slams Hilary Duff’s Film About the Actress’ Murder as ‘Classless’” highlighted Debra Tate’s disapproval on the upcoming independent film. “It doesn’t matter who it is acting in it — it’s just tasteless,” stated Debra, who was 16 when the tragedy occurred. “It’s classless how everyone is rushing to release something for the 50th anniversary of this horrific event. It would have been nice if someone had contacted me.”
According to students on campus, there is a general consensus regarding the glamorization of serial killers: it’s wrong. However, some opinions differ on the humanity of the killers.
“I think that these movies are shining a light on a very different side of serial killers, their life before how we know them, their more humane side. I find it fascinating,” shared Masie McClellan, a freshman majoring in Sociology-Criminology. “I think to some extent it’s totally acceptable for people to feel bad for [serial killers]. I mean, at some point in their life, something so traumatic happens or something continually kept happening to them, which in turn caused them to do these things.”
“With the creation of movies, television series, and documentaries about the lives of serial killers, we are finally able to see their true story,” says Jayda Martin. “However, horrifying truths like these are hard for people to digest and this is where the romanticism of serial killers comes into play.” Martin, a freshman studying psychology and women, gender, sexuality studies, thinks that Hollywood is largely to blame for the romanticizing of serial killers. “With these stories people pick and choose which truths they want to hear to make it more digestible. Couple that with ‘handsome’ actors that are playing these characters (because it wouldn’t be Hollywood if you didn’t) and you’ve got people – particularly ones attracted to males – fawning over these mass murders.”
“I don’t like how serial killers are being glorified by getting a part in Hollywood films. They committed horrendous acts against others,” states Darron Pennington, a freshman majoring in Mechanical Engineering. “Dahmer and Bundy got what they deserved, and hopefully this whack job that shot up that Florida high school does too.”