Not fiction, not fair

Time for TV to stop romanticizing serial killers

Following the release of Netflix’s “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” the Internet was flooded with romantic edits of the show’s leading actor in character, reviews praising the special effects, and comments claiming the show made people feel bad for Dahmer.
One viewer took to TikTok to express, “When you watched the whole Jeffrey Dahmer series, it didn’t turn your stomach…you were able to eat snacks while watching and go to sleep directly after, [and] thought the actor was still hot.”
Not only is this Netflix series one of many media portrayals of serial killers, but it is doubtlessly not the first to use a popular, attractive actor as the lead. The careless lack of consideration that went into creating a piece of film that could have been used to raise awareness for victims and the downright disgusting responses that follow only prove that in today’s world, romanticizing and desensitizing serial killers is the path to profit.
It cannot be denied that Evan Peters, who played Dahmer in Netflix’s new series, and Ross Lynch, who played him in “My Friend Dahmer,” are incredible actors. Nonetheless, if documentaries and films about serial killers are truly meant to shine light on the experiences of victims, casting agencies would not constantly be giving the role to actors they know viewers will watch for. The ever-growing crime audience and enormous pool of fan girls for actors like Peters and Lynch only give the film industry a larger motive to exploit whatever story they please for the biggest profit. However, this is not some mind-altering plot on “American Horror Story” or any other fictional tale meant to be watched from the edge of a seat; it is real life. Capitalizing on true horrors re-traumatizes the families of victims who are continually forced to see their loved one’s murderer become even more well-known. Can anyone from the audience of “Dahmer” identify Konerak Sinthasomphone? Without a doubt, they cannot, as the media spends more time talking about the childhood of Dahmer himself than they do talking about how Konerak was 14 years old when Dahmer took his life; he was a child with a much brighter, completely entitled, future ahead of him.
It is not asking a lot to urge society to stop giving exposure to ignorant industries that do whatever it takes to stay afloat. Suppose someone watches these documentaries to learn about the victims. In that case, they can do so through numerous articles that only mention serial killers to address that a victim’s life was heartbreakingly cut short by someone who deserves no sympathy or attention. If someone has already consumed the entirety of the mock-crime tab on a streaming site and is hungry for more, they can find a new service with countless more murder mysteries and nail-biting investigations that are not real. The sickening crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer and those of any other serial killer should make stomachs turns and should never be associated with feelings of empathy for anyone except the victims who were manipulated, targeted, and murdered by a monster.