My Friend Dahmer: Sympathizing with Serial Killers

Jeffrey Dahmer was one of the most infamous of all serial killers in American history. What made Dahmer’s murders more repulsive, was not the murders themselves, however the gruesome aftermath that took place. On record, Dahmer murdered a total of seventeen young men, who were of predominantly minority groups, black and Filipino gay men. Controversies surrounding the murders revolve around the perception that the police did not employ all the resources at their disposal to investigate these murders because of the victim’s ethnicities, which enabled Dahmer to continue. Between 1978-1991, Dahmer dismembered his victims, engaged in necrophilia and cannibalism. It is difficult to imagine that such a monster would walk among us undetected until the day he was caught. In honor of the victims who lost their lives in such a horrific manner, it would be incomprehensible to depict Dahmer in a positive light, right?

The Film “My Friend Dahmer” (2017) was derived from the graphic novel “My Friend Dahmer” written by John Backderf, who was a classmate of Dahmer’s. It is unclear whether Backderf attempted to garner sympathy for Dahmer, however the film explicitly does this. The film attempts to evoke a sense of sympathy towards the troubled teen, where a young Dahmer is fighting the urge to kill. The film displays scenes where he is bullied in school and attempts to “fit-in” as much as possible. The question remains, is this appropriate given the atrocities he committed? Is Backderf and the filmmakers “cashing in” as they exploits the actions of a sick man?

There is a scene in the film where Dahmer lures a dog into the woods and contemplates killing the dog with a knife. The camera focuses on Dahmer’s facial expressions as he ultimately decides to release the dog, afterwards he breaks down as he struggles with his evil tendencies. Towards the end of the film, there is a scene which suggests Dahmer murdered someone on his way home from prom. Of course, in the attempt to garner sympathy for Dahmer, the murder scene was not shown, leaving the audience wondering, “did he really just kill someone?”

Dahmer’s murders occurred decades ago since the release of the film “My Friend Dahmer”, is this why the filmmakers decided it was appropriate to release such a film? Imagine for a second, if there is a film released recently where Nikolas Cruz, the Parkland school shooter, is shown as someone to feel sorry for. Where the terrible acts he committed are kept hidden. Should Dahmer be remembered as a monster, or a troubled teen who could not keep the urge to kill at bay?

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FranciscoRodriguez

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