Glamorization of Serial Killers

Abigail Gonzalez, Writer

In recent years, society has taken a great fascination with one of humanity’s darkest sides, serial killers. From documentaries, videos, podcasts, and movies,  these unutterable events are popularly discussed amongst online communities. I find it true to believe that the public is obsessed with hearing about abnormal ill people who have caused horror and grief in their communities. People have the biological capacity to feel empathy, sympathy, and remorse for other people when put into the perspective of the other person’s background and tend to think about what they would do if they were in their situation. As a result, filmmakers and entertainers have taken advantage of our peak of interest. They are causing society to become desensitized and leaving viewers/listeners to become less empathetic toward the victims. 


Although these shows and films about serial killers are interesting, these television programs are taking advantage of the public’s infatuation with these murderers. Netflix has recently released a new series named “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” created to dramatize the killing spree of Jeffery Damer in a 10-part series. Dahmer is played by Evan Peters, an American actor who has gained an increase in popularity since the release of the new series. Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan, the creators of the Netflix series,  wrote the title to focus on the killer instead of the victims and consequently received backlash from the victims themselves. CNN interviewed Eric Wynn, the only black drag queen at Club 219 in Milwaukee who was closely acquainted with Eddie Smith and Anthony Hughes, two of Dahmer’s victims.  Wynn stated “It couldn’t be more wrong, more ill-timed, and it’s a media grab,” Adding that he was “disappointed” in Murphy. “I thought he was better than that.” In the article by Insider,  Rita Isbell states “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it.”  Both parties closely tied to this case clearly do not have anything positive to say about the Jeffery Dahmer series, showing that those who create these shows and films have no empathy towards the victims and insist on creating more shows out of greed. Because neither  Murphy nor Ian Brennan reached out to the victims, they have created a show that makes the audience not see both sides of the story and causes them to inherently feel bad for the killer instead of the victims. 


In order to prevent viewers from becoming desensitized to these crimes, any future shows and media should revolve around the victims of these crimes instead of the offenders. When documentaries like this are made, the creators of the shows always focus on making the serial killer roles attractive to gain more viewership. I find this to be quite disturbing as they portray these serial killers as people that anyone can relate to. Some people find the killer’s actions and feelings as a way to sympathize with the killer and try to understand them. On the other hand, many young viewers do not understand how to separate the role from the actors, which leads them to idolize the killers instead of the actors. This decreases the sense of empathy viewers will have for the victims because as they are finding the best way to sympathize with these killers, they will care less about those who were closely affected. Although these media grabs may be fascinating to learn about, it is extremely disrespectful to create these shows without asking victims for permission beforehand. Hence why creators of documentaries should focus on the victim’s point of view and share their stories of how the killer has negatively affected their livelihood.