Crime isn’t Pretty

You were just killed in the most gruesome way imaginable. While your family, friends, and hundreds of others mourn your tragic death, production companies exploit it, people romanticize it, and your grisly murder becomes nothing more than a meaningless source of entertainment and profit.

     There is no denying it, the growing obsession our society has with true crime is unsettling. From books to podcasts and documentaries to shows, true crime is everywhere, satisfying the escalating demands of desensitized viewers. 

     By nature, humans are naturally inquisitive and have morbid curiosity. We desire to know the ‘who’, ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘when’, and ‘why’. We want to know why someone would even commit such a heinous crime, or what drove them to become a killer. I know I am not alone when I admit this, but there are numerous instances when I would spend hours researching a notorious serial killer or gruesome murder. I would scour the Internet to learn every little detail until I knew the case like the back of my hand, and it was addicting. Cognizant of the true-crime craze, production companies like Hulu, Netflix, and HBO, reel viewers of all ages with series like The Watchers, The Keepers, Making a Murderer, and most recently Dahmer– Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

     On September 21, 2022, Netflix released a “revolutionary” television series retelling the disturbing and despicable life of the infamous serial killer. Since its release, Dahmer has already been viewed for over 100 billion hours, becoming the second most-watched English series on Netflix, won a Golden Globe award, and made Netflix over 300 million dollars. But while Netflix made millions of dollars, the only pay that the victims’ families received was additional trauma as they witnessed yet another documentary showcasing how their loved one was brutally tortured and killed.  

     In addition to the multiple shows and Dahmer documentaries that already existed, social media apps like FaceBook, YouTube, and TikTok, are taking clips from Dahmer to create memes and jokes. As if that wasn’t disrespectful enough, there are also numerous people posting thirst traps and edits of Evan Peters’ Dahmer ultimately romanticizing and glorifying the actual Jeffrey Dahmer. People are going as far as creating Dahmer merchandise; there are cups, hoodies, and even a t-shirt that says “Choke me like Bundy and eat me like Dahmer”. As if they didn’t actually torture people, as if they didn’t actually steal the lives of others. Not only is it disgusting that people are buying and creating merchandise idolizing actual monsters, but it is incredibly insensitive to the victims and their families. Bundy, Dahmer, and Gracy, these “people” are real villains that committed unforgivable atrocities and broke families. 

     Serial killers and rapists are demons, they should not, in any case, be glamorized. However, it is easy to fall head over heels for someone who is attractive (even if they are psychopaths). For example, when people watched Dahmer on Netflix, many were starstruck by how incredibly alluring Dahmer was. To those people, please wake up! Dahmer was a psychopathic freak that was only played by an attractive actor. An attractive actor that not only caused people to fetishize the actual murderer but draw attention away from the victim’s story. While Ryan Murphy, director of Dahmer, created the show to emphasize the story of the victims’ stories, more people were enticed by how insanely attractive Dahmer (Evan Peters) actually was. 

     As true crime receives more attention, influencers integrate their content with true crime. There are now true crime makeup tutorials, mukbangs, ASMR videos, and much more. While many creators defend themselves by saying that the main purpose of their true crime content is “to raise awareness,” promoting true crime is disrespectful to the victim and their families. Social media has pushed and exceeded the limits of ethics in true crime. The lack of compassion social media creators have for the victims and their families is upsetting. It is already devastating enough to experience the loss of a family member, and seeing an ASMR video that is #trending on YouTube highlighting every single, personal detail about their murder would only exacerbate the feelings of grief. 

     By incorporating crime and violence into common aspects of everyday life, true crime has normalized violence and desensitized viewers. People of all ages are being exposed to horrific felonies through the media; becoming increasingly less sensitive towards grisly topics and viewing them as an ordinary aspect of life. With YouTubers like Stephanie Soo, a popular mukbanger, incorporating true crime into her mukbangs, or Danielle Kristy, a true crime makeup artist, receiving millions of views, violence, rape, and murder have become a form of entertainment. Because of this, many people do not find abduction alarming, criminals cruel, or murder menacing. 

     Yes, continue watching or creating true crime videos if that is what you enjoy, but remember how essential it is to be courteous and respectful to the victims and their loved ones. Their lives and deaths should not be abused or mocked for our entertainment.