Maybe you should stop watching ‘True Crime’


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Watching and consuming too much True Crime can be damaging both to the mind and to soceity’s tolerance to others’ horrors.

Anna Anderson, Feature Editor

From podcasts, books, Netflix documentaries and in more recent times, mukbang videos and ‘get ready with me’ storytelling; ‘True Crime’ has continued to be the rage online. It is in human nature to want to understand more about things that we simply cannot comprehend ourselves. However, as we maneuver ourselves down the rabbit hole that is the world of ‘True Crime’, there are some unsettling questions that arise. Why do some develop an infatuation for serial killers, kidnappers and mass shooters? Why have we developed a fascination with the horrors endured by others for our own entertainment? 

As a child myself, growing up with relatively unrestricted access to the internet. I found myself drawn more and more towards ‘True Crime’, starting from a fairly young age. In my young tween and adolescent years, I found that I had the ability to access  vast amounts of information on these somehow infamous murderers and kidnappers. There were stories about their personal lives and their lives before the crimes, but there was rarely any information to be shared about the victims’ stories. There has become a huge disconnect over the years in that this manner of displaying content has gone too far. The lack of compassion and empathy shown to victims has now spawned into a form of entertainment. Because we have grown accustomed to this, it is not uncommon for viewers to now view these victims no longer as real people. Imagine Googling the name of a loved one that has passed, and instead of their obituary, there are instead pages and pages of people making Mukbangs or ASMR videos telling all the gruesome details of their death. Unfortunately, most of the time, these content creators are not asking permission from the families, nor contributing to the families through their adscents or sponsors from the videos, but instead being about the profit and popularization of the creator. 

The newest rage on Netflix, the documentary titled: Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has become a prime example of this. Netflix not only did not ask permission from the victims families to document their traumatic experiences yet again, but did not donate any of the profits made from the show to the families. What I found also to be interesting was that Netflix wanted to make a huge emphasis on the fact that there was no memorial built for the young LGBTQ men in Milwaulkee, yet they made no donation to the cause. Some of the victims family members posted after Dahmer came out stating that, “It’s retraumatizing over and over again…How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need,” said Eric Thulhu, the cousin of victim Errol Linsday in a tweet. 

This is not to say that it is not important to raise awareness and to remember the lives that were lost, but not in the way that is being done today. Why are shows and stories like this told over and over again in a drama like fashion or advertised as the latest trendy TV show? In this way, there is no real awareness being brought to the families in a positive way or easy access for charities and organizations to donate to. It is crucial to maintain a level of respect and dignity for the people these stories are about both when telling and listening. There are ways to find these ‘True Crime’ stories in ways that are both productive and respectful to the victims while not glamorizing the perpetrator. As with anything, consume with great caution.