Why is it that when we find someone physically attractive it makes us more inclined to trust them? This phenomenon is apparent in every aspect of life but particularly when a character is pictured on our television screens, portrayed by an attractive actor, it is often easier to root for them. In recent years there have been various movies and television shows featuring serial killers, both true crime and works of fiction, most of which fit this description. Some of those which gained the most media attention include “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” featuring Evan Peters, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” featuring Zac Efron, and the fictitious work “You” featuring Penn Badgley. Each of these works not only cover the lives of a serial killer, but also center around characters who are so charming and good-looking that you almost want to root for them.
Despite gaining rapid popularity, each of these films and tv series have faced backlash as social media flooded with messages of support for these characters. In fact, many took to social media stating they wish they could be kidnapped, stalked, etc if it meant making contact with these individuals. While these messages were meant to be interpreted as a joke, many people felt as if these statements as well as the works themselves were extremely disrespectful to the victims and their loved ones. While these films and series were initially meant to be educational or entertaining, the portrayal of the childhood circumstances and personal life of these killers made many viewers develop a level of understanding whilst seemingly forgetting the horrific things they did to their victims.
This reaction to simply seeing an attractive man on a screen and the inclination to trust and root for that character despite what they have done parallels a real world issue. In many cases these killers did in fact use their attractiveness to lure young men and women to their deaths and the fact that this is being mirrored by reactions to their films displays just how much an attractive white man can get away with. It is of the utmost importance that the allure of serial killer media does not serve to gloss over the fact that these films and series cover events that have happened and do happen to real people and reactions should be censored to account for that.