True crime media turns the evil into misunderstood celebrities

Serial killer Ted Bundy sits in court during his murder trial. Bundy is one of the many criminals covered in recent movies.

Creative Commons photo obtained from Wikipedia Commons

Serial killer Ted Bundy sits in court during his murder trial. Bundy is one of the many criminals covered in recent movies.

Emily Toro

You binge watch Netflix for hours only to end up with burning eyes and a strong, confusing appeal to the series’ attractive and emotionally broken serial killer.

People are sometimes more inclined to empathize with serial killers after gaining a greater perspective into their lives and mental states. After the Parkland shooting in 2018, for instance, reporters found that murderer Nikolas Cruz had a difficult childhood and suffered from ADHD and depression, according to The Washington Post.

These insights don’t change the fact that Cruz took the lives of 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. But, women and teenage girls still sent greeting cards and love letters to the mass murderer sympathizing with his situation, according to the Sun Sentinel.

Netflix recently released a project surrounding infamous serial killer Ted Bundy: “Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” The Netflix docuseries received criticism for failing to address the perspectives of Bundy’s victims, according to The Washington Examiner.

Junior Serena Khan of Union Beach watched “Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Bundy Tapes,” and said that Netflix portrayed Bundy as a pleasant person, which can alter viewers opinions.

“The actor definitely showed a charming side to Ted Bundy and he was really good at showing the audience that he’s a nice guy,” Khan said. “The way he talked was convincing and I almost fell for it while I was watching the show.”

Equally glamorized, released in 2017, “My Friend Dahmer” tells the story of American serial killer and sex offender Jeffrey Dahmer. The movie entices viewers into siding with the criminal by establishing Dahmer as a struggling teenager.

And yet, by its very existence, the movie can’t help but glamorise its subject, who went on to variously rape, murder, dismember, violate and cannibalise his 17 male victims. It doesn’t matter if you portray them as damaged souls or psychopaths; you’re still adding to the legend,” The Guardian reported.

Popular media continues to detail these killers as troubled individuals rather than highlight the trauma they caused. Even though they murdered numerous individuals, platforms continue to depict serial killers simply as celebrities.