These days true crime stories and cases of all kinds are popular topics among many people— myself included—but there seems to be heightened interest around serial killers. It’s very easy to find media related to these stories. There are numerous podcasts, television shows, documentaries, and even popular movies loosely based on these crimes.
In 2017, “My Friend Dahmer,” based on the earlier life of infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, was released, and it was said to be both chilling and insightful. Currently, a new movie starring Zac Efron about Ted Bundy is set to come out later this year. Titled, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” it’s said to be a biopic with a focused perspective from Bundy’s girlfriend, played by Lily Collins.
Bundy was also a serial killer. During the 1970s, he committed multiple acts of kidnapping, rape, burglary, necrophilia, and murdered many, many young girls from multiple states across America. When he finally confessed to these murders, he admitted to at least 30 homicides, but it’s highly likely there were more unknown victims.
On Jan. 24, 2019, Netflix released a new docuseries titled, “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” It’s worth noting that the release date was the 30- year anniversary (to the exact day) of Bundy’s death in prison—execution via Florida State Penitentiary’s electric chair. A rather calculated move on their part, it feels as though Ted Bundy may have been forgotten about by the general public prior to the show’s debut, and the talk of the movie only adds to this sentiment.
These things considered, it makes complete sense that such topics reach far and wide, but is it possible that some of the media only adds to a killer’s notoriety? After Netflix’s release of the Bundy series, many people went to social media to express their feelings towards his looks. It seems a lot of people find Bundy super attractive.
On Jan. 28, Netflix even took to Twitter to post this statement: “I’ve seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service—almost all of whom are not convicted serial murders.” The fact that people have considered him appealing is nothing new.
Ever since Bundy became public topic, many young women have found him alluring among other things. He even acquired a following of sorts—women who would come to court every day to watch the trials. With talk of the new movie on the way, there’s a growing, yet subtle concern that it will only glamorize Bundy.
Since he is often thought of as attractive or hot by many as well, Efron’s role as Bundy has been considered controversial for this same reason. Does portrayal of a deceitful killer by a conventionally handsome man sway your view of what Bundy actually did? At this point in time, some people have been able to view the new movie at the recent Sundance Film festival, and the reviews appear to be mixed so far.
In an article from The Salt Lake Tribune, the script for the film is said to be based on a memoir that was written by Bundy’s longtime girlfriend, a woman who was with Bundy around the time period of his crimes. An interesting view to consider, it sounds like the film doesn’t necessarily focus on details of Bundy’s crimes. With these elements in mind, I became curious about how other people generally felt in regard to movies about serial killers.
When asked whether he felt such films are bad or pretty alright, Morgan Manning, professor of Design, explained, “I think it’s important to be aware of some of the more nefarious things that can happen in society, and there are certainly lessons to be learned from watching content like that. It could also help us avoid taking a blind eye to things we are uncomfortable with.”
Adam Brown, a junior, provided, “I think that we can often let our own desires to be thrilled and entertained by the media we consume—losing sight that these people are actually literal murders. There’s a fine line between being on the edge of your seat and fetishizing a serial killer.” With both good points to consider, it sounds like having some awareness of the harsh reality surrounding a serial murderer’s crimes is essential.
It’s fundamentally important to recognize that anyone could secretly be a Bundy in the making. If you do love true crime, there are plenty of lessons to be learned just from hearing the stories. Netflix’s docu-series on Bundy truly is very informative yet insightful, and the movie might turn out alright. Just take it all with a grain of salt.