Opinion: The glamorization of serial killers


Mia Risolia

The Dahmer series on Netflix is played on screen.

With the recent release of “Dahmer” on Netflix, the glamorization of serial killers has been brought to the forefront of many minds. This, along with “My Friend Dahmer (2017) and “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” (2019), are media productions where a real serial killer is portrayed by a conventionally attractive actor. This has created a twisted community of social media users romanticizing serial killers.

Evan Peters plays Jeffrey Dahmer in the most recent production. “Dahmer” was released on Sept. 21 and tells the story primarily by following Dahmer’s victims. 

Overall, public reception of the show has been relatively positive, with many feeling that Peters was a good casting choice for the role. However, the problem with this is that Peters has been a heartthrob for much of the younger generations. Similarly, Zac Efron was cast as Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, causing his character to be romanticized as well.

Many Hollywood actors and actresses are conventionally attractive, so it is not an issue of casting less attractive people for these types of roles.

“It’s not the casting of the actors that’s the problem, because the actors are just doing what they’re told,” Hollis Branch, sophomore, said.

The problem is that turning a real life event into a film or show disconnects events from reality. It is easy for the audience to forget that criminals, like Dahmer and Bundy, were real life serial killers hurting innocent victims and their families. 

Furthermore, Dahmer contributed directly to the already present hatred towards the LGBTQ+ community. Being a gay man himself, his actions cast a very negative view upon other members of the community.

“The LGBTQ+ community had a negative light on them because of his actions. He added to the homophobia and transphobia in the 70s, which was already an issue,” Branch added.

Glamorization of serial killers takes away from the severity of their actions, which is completely unfair to victims, their families and other groups affected. Families of victims are still alive and forced to continue to suffer by the continual creation of shows and movies dedicated to these events.

“It’s a recurring issue of [people] glamorizing these really serious roles because they’re played by a good looking actor,” Victoria Loret De Mola, junior, said.

Although the show placed more emphasis on the victims than productions in the past, there were still moments where the audience was pushed to feel sympathy for Dahmer. 

“Don’t justify [his actions] by saying it was just an instinct. What he did was wrong, period,” Alysha Kennedy, freshman, said.

Overall, it would be most beneficial to stop the production of shows and movies like this. While it is entertaining to audiences, it is not fair to families who are constantly reminded of who they lost. The responsibility doesn’t ultimately fall on the actors who portray the killers, but on production companies who continue to revive traumatic past events. 

“The production companies that create these shows should be held accountable for exploiting the use of attractive actors to play these types of roles,” Loret de Mola said.