July 24, 2024

With shows, movies, books and podcasts dedicated to retelling the stories of serial killers, kidnappers, gang leaders and other violent criminals, true crime seems to be an in demand genre in recent years. But why are so many drawn to hearing about these brutal crimes and why is there such a demand for this type of content?  

For years, companies have been releasing movies and TV shows centered on serial killers, raking in millions of views and dollars altogether. These forms of media may be providing more influence than intended. One way of this can be directly through the show’s portrayal of these serial killers, including who plays them. “I think the casting for some shows may impact the way people view them or how seriously they take them. So many horrible people are being romanticized now,” junior Isabella Castellanos said. Casting familiar actors, especially those who already have a positive connection to fans, can cause viewers to have a distorted perception of the actual criminal. 

It is typical for these forms of media to include graphic imagery and descriptions of what happened to the victims with little to no disregard for the victims or anyone else affected. These shows seem to feed into viewers’ obsession with knowing every gorey detail and wanting to fully immerse themselves in these cases. “People are entertained by learning about terrible things we think will never directly affect us,” junior Mickael Drimboi said. Most watching these shows do not have personal ties to those directly impacted by the cases, which allows them to separate themselves from it and not take it as seriously or to see the portrayal as disrespectful. 

The essence of “true crime,” though, is that it is true – meaning real humans were harmed and their friends and loved ones still carry that trauma. Using someone’s death to create interesting shows and movies can feel exploitative, even for the viewers. “If something horrible happened to my family member, I’d hate for people to find entertainment in watching a show or movie about it,” sophomore Gerardo Perez said.

The storytelling viewpoint and the details will shift how the audience perceives the crime and the victims. “If shows are made, I think it’s best for them to bring out the victims’ story and not highlight the killer,” Drimboi said. Flipping this narrative so the victims and their stories are more prioritized rather than providing a full life narrative about the killer may help bring light to those harmed in these instances and prevent the killer from being so glorified by viewers. 

Teagan O’Conner 

October 26, 2022

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