Serial killers: Why do we continue to celebrate horrific atrocities in popular culture?

By Ana Salgado, Dec. 6, 2022

The buzz surrounding the Sept. 21 season one launch of “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” made me sick because of all the vile things my friends and family had told me about this psychopath, despite the fact that I had never heard of this Netflix series.

I believed that bringing Dahmer back from the dead through the media would have grievously harmed the victims’ emotions, given that there are already a few crime films and documentaries about this monster. With the recent Nov.7 announcement of follow up seasons to “Dahmer,” I couldn’t help but wonder what else held people’s attention and attracted so much interest.

I decided that I needed to navigate and search for tags on TikTok of those who worshiped the monster. I had no idea how I was going to analyze “pop culture” through a post. However, I was immediately convinced and intrigued by the comment section on videos of peoples’ mixed opinions on the show.

Social media revealed that the show glorified the attacker through the history of both his victims and his adolescent life, bringing backlash to singer song writers, like Billie Eilish, Travis Scott and many more for glorifying serial killers in their music.

The newest “What’s Poppin Freestyle” was one of a few recent tracks that referred to the serial killer and the crimes he committed! Fans in 2020 were dancing to this pop song by Machine Gun Kelly. On numerous platforms, the song is still popular in 2022. His third verse contains a Dahmer reference.

These musicians are being careless when some of us have lost loved ones in horrific crimes, and “Dahmer” is making many people relive their nightmares by drawing attention to him.

“Dahmer” was a big shock to many viewers because they were able to maintain emotional control while reliving along with the victims’ families the grief after watching the program.

There’s more to it than just the perverted things Dahmer did. Did he even feel anything? Remorse? This is a show that depicts a terrible past as well as how pop culture can lead to repulsive glorification of serial killers in entertainment media.

What matters most is how entertainment media influence our mental wellness. The show’s creator, Ryan Murphy, stated in an interview with Netflix that “as a viewer, you’re not really getting into his predicament. It’s not just him and his history; you’re sort of observing it from the outside. It’s the consequences. Society is to blame. Because of racism and homophobia, society and our system repeatedly failed to stop him.”

The dramatic music and media extravaganzas are meant to highlight that Generation Z frequently confronts “Dahmer” on social media as a result of extended, moderate to heavy exposure to violence-related content through mass media, such as news broadcasts and television shows. But because of the prevalence of these crimes, the family groups and extended families of the victims are compelled to live through the past every day. Even if we tried, we could never escape the past. I’ve come to realize that it’s a cycle.

The narrative of how Dahmer got away with his crimes and how he was apprehended in his apartment with body parts — and evidence indicating that he might have even eaten some of his victims — has shaken audiences.

Even though Dahmer’s motivations may never be known, I now realize that sometimes raising awareness through the media is the best course of action because it allows people to be aware of those with harmful intentions.

Whether it be partying at a club “party hardy” or going over to a stranger’s house alone when they say, “I just wanna take some pictures,” the dangers of strangers are especially prevalent today. You never really know if people are sincere, so by shedding light on these issues, we can all take precautions.

In the event that anyone ever undergoes emotional trauma, never be afraid to ask for help. Students in need can visit the website for Counseling & Psychological Services (CAPS)=

Feature image by Sharon Wu

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