The toxic romanticization of serial killers

(18+) With serial killers gaining attention within the media due to documentaries and social media, they have begun to be toxically romanticized.


Photo by Aryanna Martinez

There has been an influx of serial killer content that can be accessed.

It is human nature to romanticize. Many glamorize their idols, and their idols lives, and other specific aspects of life. For the most part it is harmless, but with the resurgence of serial killer documentaries and fictional based shows following real life murderers, some have taken it too far, to the point of romanticizing killers like Jeffrey Dahmer and Ted Bundy.
This new wave of dark romanticization has spread across TikTok, and while not new, it is highly likely that the recent releases of documentaries such as “Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes” and “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” has been fuel to this rapidly growing fire. Teens and young adults have taken to the media platform to share their attractions to Dahmer, defending him by saying he was misunderstood or bullied. The media attention specifically to Dahmer has focused more on his “charming” looks rather than his heinous actions and crimes.
“I think it’s really gross. I feel like nowadays people are into true crime and they kind of get sucked into all the details and mystery of it, but they don’t really realize there is a story behind the person who actually got murdered,” senior Kayla Gonzalez said.
Along with Dahmer, Ted Bundy, the infamous 1970’s serial killer, has been persistently romanticized for his conventionally attractive physique. It is common for serial killers to pose as innocent, friendly people, all in a scheme to hide their true dark motives. This trend skyrocketed in 2019 after Netflix’s “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” aired.
“I feel like [that attractiveness is] what made Ted Bundy such a successful serial killer, cause he would be able to lure women, if he was ugly I don’t think he would’ve been as successful,” senior Noah Brewer said.
While these shows bring light to tragic eve​​nts, it should be known that the studios cast generally attractive men as these people, such as Zac Efron as Bundy in the 2019 crime drama “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Vile and Evil,” and Ross Lynch in the 2017 horror film, “My Friend Dahmer.” Casting attractive men as serial killers gives people a reason to glorify on social media.
“If the intention is to cast good looking actors for these serial killers, it can create a false image, but if that’s just how they look like, actually happen to look like in real life, then I think that’s fine,” Brewer continued.
Romanticization of these dark figures in American history has to stop. Killers like Dahmer and Bundy were truly awful people, who had major mental illnesses. This is not something to be romanticizing about. In doing so, it almost defends what these men have done in a way, with many pushing aside what they did. Instead of bringing awareness to mental health issues, they were labeled as “different.” There is a fine line between ‘different’ and ‘psychotic’ and it has been crossed way too many times.
“I think it’s important that even though true crime can be interesting, and to know there is a mystery behind it, it should be known that there are people who are actually behind these stories, and not just Zach Efron and Evan Peters,” Kayla Gonzalez continued.
While it is important to highlight these dangerous men to prevent similar events from repeating, this publicity gives men like Dahmer and Bundy the opportunity to be romanticized and often hailed as role models. This issue is very concerning as it has only gotten worse, as social media has inspired fast spread praising of serial killers. Action should be taken to stoke the flames of these dark idolizations before it’s too late.