Is Hollywood Romanticizing Serial Killers?
Hollywood is a romantic place for serial killers.
The Netflix series Dahmer– Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story (originally aired September 21) has been a media hit and is currently gaining momentum across all major social media platforms. The series is about Jeffrey Dahmer, a serial killer who murdered 17 young African American men in the period 1978 to 1991. The show’s premiere has seen it surpass the Squid Game record for the most watched Netflix show in its first week.
Serial killers are the latest sensation on our screens. This is why true crime podcasts and crime documentaries have been so popular. It begs the question: Is Hollywood romanticizing serial killers?
Hollywood has poured its resources and efforts into creating series and movies that explore the madness of serial killers in recent years. The audience is always thrilled with every new release. The success of movies like The Clovehitch Killer (2018) and The Watcher (2022), and The Postcard Killings (22020) are a testament to the popularity of fictional serial killer dramas. Hollywood is now trying to bring the drama to life by focusing on reality and recreating the lives of serial killers. They also cast American heartthrobs to play the maniacs in dramas that are designed to scare and terrorize.
These actors are loved by Americans and have many international fans. This list includes Disney Teen stars like Zac Efron, in Extremely Wise, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, Ross Lynch in Austin & Ally, and Dylan Sprouse, one-half the Sprouse twins taking on the role of the murderous lead character in Dismissed.
Casting these stars is primarily done to allow filmmakers to use their fan and social media presence to promote the films. These filmmakers promote the idea that serial killers can be handsome men worthy of human empathy. Hollywood’s bad-boy narrative has been reinforced by casting famous, handsome actors. This plays into Hollywood’s belief that manipulation, violence, and abuse can be loved and romanticized.
Viewers’ perceptions of the crimes are distorted. This has the potential for Hollywood to normalize them and downplay their traumatic effects on victims, families, and friends, in exchange Hollywood makes millions.
Similar to Hollywood’s romanticization of bad guys, Hollywood entertainment and culture have contributed to an acceptance and tolerance for abuse and damage in relationships. However, this is only true if the partner exceeds the requirements for beauty standards. Is there really a problem beyond the entertainment value of creating serial killers? Is it entertainment or a problem?
Nearly every serial media story features a man who is deeply in love with another man. They become too protective and will kill for their love interest. In the Netflix series You, the main character Joe Golberg is charming, romantic, and caring and saves his love interest at the subway station in season 1. Even though things quickly turn sour when he steals her phone and breaks into her apartment to lock her boyfriend in a cage. He later kills her. Fans still love him and defend him with the idea that he is in true love.
Joe stalks and dates different women throughout the seasons. Sometimes, even the woman himself. He is even portrayed as worthy of having children when he becomes a father. Fans love him for his self-efficacy and thoughtfulness.
The media’s coverage of serial killers focuses a lot on the killers, which allows them to enjoy the fame and boost their ego, while the victims fade into the background. Ted Bundy’s film adaptations show that Bundy was happy with the media’s attention which raised his fame.
In some cases, serial killers also sent preliminary information about their planned killings to the media. This created buzz and glorified their ability to evade police enforcement. These serial killer films feature the excitement of the chase between law enforcement officers and serial killers.
The life stories of serial killers are also portrayed in a way that draws sympathy. Past abuse, mental health issues, and trauma are all depicted as humanizing factors, which helps to separate the killers from their horrific actions. It is disrespectful to victims and their families to give serial killers publicity through media, films, or dramas. Recently, one of Dahmer’s victims shared their feelings about the traumatizing effects of the show.
When serial killers are physically attracted to one another, it can be difficult for viewers to make a connection between their appearance and their actions. This leads to romanticization and delusions. This romanticization can encourage fantasies and infatuations, which would not otherwise develop if serial killers weren’t made public. The audience must remember that serial killers, regardless of how they appear on the silver screen are criminals who torture, murder, and rape their victims.
Their appearances should not be romanticized in order to minimize the horrific, unforgivable, and violent crimes they committed. The industry may continue to cast Hollywood favorite actors as serial killers’ faces, but that does not make them any less real criminals or the stories they are based upon.
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