Are We Giving the Serial Killers What They Want?

Fame seekers and the media


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Demetria Slyt, Opinion Writer

Within the past few years, there has been a noticeable surge in true-crime podcasts, documentaries, movies, and general media coverage aimed exclusively at serial killers throughout history. These media outlets cover the majority of villains’ crimes and their origins, getting insight from both the victims themselves, or family members, and federal investigators on the case. We’ve heard stories all about killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and John Wayne Gacy. A lot of serial killers and even mass shooters seek notoriety for their crimes. Are we really just feeding into what these murderers wanted? How do we stop? I think we are feeding into that sick desire, but I am not sure how we could stop other than not supporting this kind of media or falling into it’s clutches, so-to-speak.  

Obviously, it is good to spread awareness and warn people, however, I am not sure this is the same thing. For numerous reasons, news coverage sources are obligated to share this information. I do not think Hollywood has any excuse, we have to stop romanticizing these types of things. I remember a few years ago when the Bundy Tapes were released on Netflix everyone was talking about how “hot” the notorious serial killer was, it made my blood physically boil! These were real monsters, not some redeemable movie villains. 

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 I do know that there were circumstances in some of these murders’ early lives and early development that are considered “heartbreaking.” I feel like I have heard a lot of attention being drawn to that recently. The things that happen to you during those developmental years of your life can seriously affect the person you become. However, those backstories aren’t an excuse. Those backstories shouldn’t make you feel bad for bad people who committed heinous acts. I feel like when the media does this, again, It is like they are trying to glorify or victimize the actual criminals themselves. It’s really mind-boggling to think about or try to wrap your head around. Why do we do this?  

That is the part of this that piques psychological interests, with questions like how the mind of these criminals work, what made them the way they were, and what led to the murders. In some cases studying these questions does help us recognize these types of people, and maybe even catch them before it is too late. Most people are very fascinated by the psychology behind these things and just want to know the bigger picture. It counters my previous argument in a way because by consuming these types of media for psychological curiosity and learning about a killer’s past is different than hearing about their crimes. It still puts them into the limelight none-the-less but isn’t necessarily glorifying them. Watching or reading content like this could be a way to counteract the worst of fame seeker’s goals.  

The case of Ted Bundy was one of the first televised incidences of a serial murder trial in America in which the murder was present and confessed to dozens of crimes. This might have really kicked off this trend, even into present day and the public’s hyper fixation on true-crime. I wonder if the victims or the victim’s families support any of this, or if they also think it’s a big issue as well. I think it’s an important side note to consider, how much of the information we are being presented is picked and sewn? In other words, the media has and will possibly always continue to be very selective about any information being transferred. How much of the information about these murderers is exaggerated or dramatized to make for a bigger story or more “excitement”? 


Demetria Slyt is a Dakota Student Opinion Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]