The jeffrey dahmer effect: the problem with dramatizing serial killers - 1

Once again, money triumphs over ethics as Netflix gives the go-ahead for an anthology series based on the recently successful thriller “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” from “iconic” creator Ryan Murphy (known for series like American horror story and Glee).  

If you aren’t already aware of the complete media disaster that was the Dahmer series on Netflix-  from the fan glorification of a known cannibalistic murderer who mostly preyed on Black and Latino men, to the horrendous audience reaction gracing everyone's TikToks – it would just be in your best interest to proceed the show with caution. 

The Dahmer series has been the star of many controversies as of late, for both its choice to dramatize true events to fit its narrative and apparent “ romanticization” of the famed serial killer. Ryan Murphy and Netflix's decision to not only create another season, but to convert it into an anthology -- where it would tell the stories of other serial killers -- seriously lacks creativity and overall morality. 

While acknowledging that true crime is a very marketable genre, particularly given the public's fascination for it, one must consider what this series means for the future of entertainment. 

This year alone, we've seen an increase in the number of dramatized series based on murder cases (many of which were done without consulting the victim's families), and with Netflix’s approval for another two seasons of Dahmer and Murphy’s other show “The Watcher”, we won't see a decrease in these types of shows anytime soon. 

Ryan Murphy, like all true crime creators who milk serial killers for content, has received criticism for using notorious killers like Richard Ramirez, John Wayne Gacy, Charles Manson, and, not surprisingly, Jeffrey Dahmer in his series 'American Horror Story.' 

But when Dahmer came out, it flipped the media world upside down. 

Tiktok trends upon Tiktok trends being made in the name of  “clout, “ while riding on the crime show’s newfound popularity, has made us fail to see the harmful effects of glamorizing these types of shows. For example, dozens of videos showing teens cosplaying as Dahmer has circulated all over the internet – the creation of TikTok dances, 'thirst trap' clips, and having TikTok creators like @tooturnttony make up a series that mimic Dahmer-like characteristics, like pranking his mother by bringing home roadkill. And even that pales in comparison to the actual kids who dressed up like him for Halloween.

For many young adult audiences, Jeffrey Dahmer and other serial killers have always been of fascination because of their intriguing psychological mindset. But where exactly do we draw the line? Many viewers, particularly young viewers, viewed Dahmer as "not terrifying enough" or "not graphic and bloody enough," due to their desensitization to gore and real-life tragedy. 

Some people have even gone so far as to identify Dahmer with this "fictional" persona.

“I've seen and heard people say ‘Oh, that show wasn't even that serious or anything. There are serial killers that can do worse,’ and obviously, there are serial killers that have done worse. However, it still doesn't eliminate the fact that he did crazy things to people. And just the fact that you think that there are people that can do worse than Dahmer is wild, “ said Jemmy Morales, a senior psychology major. 

Morales felt that the Dahmer series had done a good portrayal of not just the serial killer but also others involved – yet doesn’t understand how anyone could romanticize him. 

Another argument being made of the series is the awareness being brought to the newer generations on the occurrences of that period. But why can’t we do it without a ten-episode series of a serial killer eating his victims? If we really want to tell the stories of these murderers, we shouldn’t focus on the same four serial killers who have already almost ten different documentaries. Let’s call it for what it is: a cash grab. 

Both” Dahmer” and “The Watcher” were the diamonds in the rough that Murphy needed after signing a $300 million dollar deal with Netflix to create his projects, and after four years of nothing, “ Dahmer” was released and accumulated at least 500 million hours, making it into Netflix’s Top Ten in two weeks. It’s safe to say that Murphy will try riding this hype for as long as he can. 

But what about the families affected? Murphy mentions in an article that his team had contacted many of the victims' families and received no response, which then led to his team having to carry out the show without the families’ consent. Now I don't know about you, but no response is a response enough, don’t you think Murphy? 

Some of the family members of Dahmer’s victims have actually taken to the media to report that they were never contacted about the show and were completely blindsided. Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsay, commented on how Netflix should’ve contacted her and asked about their feelings but instead proceeded to film the show anyway.  

How can we trust that this won’t happen again in Murphy’s new anthology series?

The bottom line is that there is no need for an anthology series on killers we’ve already heard of. It does nothing but create discourse and puts more money in creators’ pockets.

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