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Serial killers should not be glorified by the media

Serial killers should not be glorified by the media

Serial killers should not be glorified by the media
September 13
05:00 2019

When it was announced that Zac Efron, a well-known Hollywood leading man, would portray infamous serial killer Ted Bundy, America waited in anticipation. The film, “Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile,” was released by Netflix and went on to become one of the most talked about movies this year. Likewise, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” a film directed by Quentin Tarantino, featured infamous cult leader and murderer Charles Manson. This led me to wonder, is the media glorifying serial killers by making biographical movies about them? Are they now serving as role models now? Does this serve as a message that by committing crimes, one can earn notoriety and fame? I have to unfortunately say yes.

Serial killers often capture the intrigue of the masses by the names they get associated. Jack the Ripper, the Killer Clown, the BTK Killer, the Zodiac Killer and the Night Stalker are just a few names the media creates to attach to these killers to add to their mystique which then makes them more marketable. However, when the media does this, I feel it trivializes the criminals and desensitizes us to the crimes they commit.

Can the media sensationalizing serial killers inspire copycat murders? Yes, in fact, because it has happened before. From the late 1960s till the early 1970s, the Zodiac Killer killed five people in Northern California and was also suspected of operating in Nevada. After sending cryptic letters to the police, a widely publicized manhunt for the Zodiac went underway but no leads were ever found. From March 1990 to October 1993, Heriberto “Eddie” Seda, killed three people and injured five others in New York, fashioning the murders to the Zodiac.

Like the Zodiac, Seda sent taunts to the police and media after each crime. Up until his capture, police suspected that the Zodiac had resumed his rampage. Seda later cited the Zodiac Killer as his source of inspiration and that he admired him for never getting caught. Seda, aka the Zodiac Copycat, was later sentenced to 232 years in prison.

Tumblr is also a hotbed of serial killers being glorified by users on the site. There is a page dedicated to quoting serial killers along with quotes about serial killers. One of the quotes reads, “You inspire my inner serial killer.” Underneath the text, it was tagged as “inspirational.” Further down on the same page, there is a post by an anonymous user asking, “Do you think Ted Bundy is hot? I find him very attractive.” Bundy is not the only killer on Tumblr who has a “fandom,” either. Richard Ramirez, Jeffrey Dahmer and the Columbine shooters all had their share of admirers as well.

According to Tokyo Reporter, a 21-year-old woman named Yuka Takaoka, made waves this year after she stabbed her boyfriend Phoenix Luna with a large kitchen knife because she “loved” him so much. Luna survived the attack and claimed to “hold no grudges” against Takaoka. People came out in support to free Takaoka for being “too beautiful” and for being a real-life “yandere”.” A “yandere” in anime culture is usually a female character who turns homicidal in pursuit of love.

Since the incident there have been Instagram accounts devoted to her with paintings and drawings of Takaoka stabbing Luna while she is smiling and holding up a bloody knife with a cigarette dangling from the side of her mouth. This position is how she was found by police when they arrived on the scene.

The news sensationalizes these serial killers because upsetting and controversial news sells. Then when movies come out about serial killers, it can possibly be seen as rewarding these killers by profiling their life story in the same way filmmakers would profile the life story of positive role models such as Martin Luther King or Gandhi. It only gives them recognition, adds to their notoriety and makes them somewhat of a celebrity in the eyes of impressionable viewers, which is exactly what serial killers want. We cannot give them the tools to build a legacy. In death, figures like Ted Bundy, Charles Manson and Richard Ramirez all deserve to be what they were in life, nobodies.

Featured Illustration: Kylie Phillips

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Adrian Maldonado

Adrian Maldonado

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