Glorification of Serial Killers through Television

One of the most popular shows that was streamed on Netflix in 2022 was, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story. This show gained a lot of positive and negative popularity in the United States for displaying the life of Jeffrey Dahmer and the crimes that he committed in a very explicit and twisted manner. There has been a lot of controversy behind crimesploitation shows like these since the viewers are put in a position where they are almost forced to feel empathy and sorry for the serial killer despite all the horrendous murders they committed. The producers of these types of shows and movies argue that they make them to raise awareness and give the public a better understanding on what goes on in a serial killer’s mind. Critics question whether it is necessary for people to understand what goes on in a killer’s mind or if this should be left to psychologists and criminologists.

The reality is that these shows use the argument of raising awareness as an excuse to be able to exploit these horrific stories for their own benefit. Producers will tell the story in a way they seem fit to gain more viewership and take away from the real issues that are involved in these cases. The show, Monster, depicted very gory and explicit scenes of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims and inaccurately told the story of several cases. Some of the victim’s families even came out to say that their story was not told the way it happened and that no one ever reached out to them for support. In addition, following the release of this show, Jeffrey Dahmer became a very popular theme during Halloween in 2022 as many young Americans were dressing up as Jeffrey Dahmer for Halloween. Critics of the show Monster argue that Jeffrey Dahmer is no longer alive, yet he continues to be immortalized by the creation of these shows that only glorify and give life to his horrific crimes.

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9 thoughts on “Glorification of Serial Killers through Television

  1. When I heard that they were making yet another show about Jeffery Dahmer I was not interested in watching. I never really understood the appeal behind these shows, not to mention making copies of the same serial killers over and over again. While i feel it is important to let people be aware of the atrocities people have committed I don’t understand why it’s not enough to make a documentary about the topic. Why is it important to make a drama show that may not even be completely accutate?

  2. Personally, I feel like there’s more negative outcomes possible by creating shows like the one about Jeffrey Dahmer. These shows glorify a person that did horrible things and the true intention is not to spread awareness but to make a profit. It’s not necessary for people to learn about the background of a serial killer. As was mentioned, these shows are never 100% accurate which goes back to my point of producers and companies solely trying to make a profit. I can’t imagine what the families of the victims go through seeing a show made about the person that murdered their loved one. The inaccuracies in the victims stories are unethical and overall it’s wrong for them to be told without consulting the families. Why would we want to have shows that glorify horrible individuals and even worse crimes?

  3. This topic is very controversial, as you can see both sides of the argument of whether or not it’s appropriate to make these shows. I feel that there are other ways — and much better ways — to raise awareness if that is what the intent is. For example, 20/20 and dateline do amazing jobs at actually raising awareness about crimes that I had no idea about. They provide details and have sources backing them up. But this Netflix show did no sort of that. I wouldn’t consider it raising awareness due to its’s structure. It was made as a tv series — NOT a documentary. It was made for chilling /entertainment/ purposes of what it’s like to be in Dahmer’s head. They have twisted many of these victims words and actions (as told by victim themselves), whether by leaving some parts out or over exaggerating parts, in order to make it more interesting and engaging. More than half of the times, these victims and their families don’t even see a cent of the millions of dollars that these tv shows gain in profits. So, is it really for awareness? Is it really in order to help these victims tell their stories? It’s not. The media knows that true crime is “in” right now (mukbangs w/ true crime, makeup tutorials w/ true crime, true crime based tiktok influencers, etc.) and they took it as a perfect opportunity to make this show, knowing they will gain a huge profit from it.

  4. I think creating shows like this are pretty risky because I more so worry about copy cat crimes. mentally unstable individual watches the show and wants to be glorified like Jeffrey Dahmer, there can be some pretty terrible repercussions. I understand telling the story in an attempt to educate the public but creating a TV show instead of creating something more neutral like a documentary seems kind of strange to me. Jeffrey Dahmer was a criminal and the TV show created the trend for halloween. I don’t think creating the TV show was a great idea.

  5. I feel as if we don’t ‘glorify’ these serial killers but more so it becoming ‘trendy’. I don’t think people who for instance think to dress up as Jeffery Dahmer thinks of the repercussions. I would think because they didn’t experience it, it wouldn’t bug them, hence it becoming trendy and just a meme. these shows are only aired to ‘raise awareness’ but no matter the director’s choice on how the show should be portrayed, social media takes it and mocks it if you will, and makes a joke from these real events. I don’t think that if shows like these were to not aired would be a great choice because then people in my generation and moving forward would’ve not known about Jeffrey Dahmer, ted bundy, the night stalker, etc.

  6. The creation of shows such as Jeffrey Dahmer can be controversial. On one side it provides an explanation as to what goes on in a killer’s head and gives the audience more details on the case. However, these details are often inaccurate and the families of the victims mention how they were never asked about how the events went down. If a series is to be made about serial killers, it should be documentary based with accounts from first-hand victims that can accurately describe the events. These shows can also put these killers in the public spotlight and give them the popularity that they wanted. This isn’t ethical as it makes murders celebrities.

  7. I think instead of “glorifying” such behaviors and reiterations of events from the past, we should shed light on the horrendous acts and really give light to the victims and spread awareness to what happened and utilize the platform for something more positive.

  8. To learn from the past and to create awareness we cannot ignore what goes on in the world. However, I do agree with the post because crime shows like these that are meant to educate the public are doing it in a way that certainly would benefit the producer, actors, etc. We see how in this show, as well as the show with Zac Efron portraying Ted Bundy, that they use attractive actors who may appeal to the audience more. Although only the victim(s) and criminal can depict the truth the most accurately, the family and professional criminologist would have proof and insight into the crimes and should have a big role in the way these shows are made. I know that crime documentaries often have interviews from the family members, police involved, and other detectives/criminologists and that has more power than a talented and attractive actor or dramatic changes/effects to help entice viewers.

  9. I believe that shows that glorify killers and violence should not aired because they do not send the right message. The article states that these shows “raise awareness”, but they are not showing the real issues. I think that crime documentaries that explain criminal behavior in a more sophisticated way raise the correct type of awareness towards crime. Glorified TV shows send the wrong message, causing people to potentially mock the show, not take crime seriously, and some might even engage in the same behaviors seen from the show since viewers are presenting empathy towards the show’s main character.

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