Mass media profits off the American obsession with true crime.

Nathan Feller

More stories from Nathan Feller

May 2, 2023

Photo Courtesy of Canva and Gabby Paterson

True crime and serial killers have become a staple in American Culture. Ranging from obessions with TV shows to attraction to legitimate murderers, Americans are captivated by crime in all it’s ‘glory.’

The American Psycho – not the famed movie starring Christian Bale – but the concept; an idea that American culture has become obsessed with. From the “Halloween” movie franchise to the late night serial killer documentaries on commercial television, true crime media has never been in greater demand.

On Sep. 21, 2022, Netflix released a thriller drama “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” starring the notorious cannibalistic serial killer, Jeffery Dahmer, told through the point of view of his victims. However, many viewers were upset by the manner with which the producers created the show.

It’s messed up that [Netflix] produced [Dahmer] without talking to the families, but it’s not like corporations like [Netflix] care about other people.

— Armando Hernandez

“I feel that it was inappropriate to make a dramatized version of ‘Dahmer’,” junior Jon Hawley said. “The producers made it for money, whereas a documentary [production] would make it to inform.”

The controversy surrounding “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” has caused some outrage and discontent among the audiences as well; particularly, the family members of Dahmer’s victims.

Rita Isbell is the sister of Dahmer’s eleventh victim, Errol Lindsey. In an article by Time Magazine she said, “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it. But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid.”

Production by any means seems to be the name of the game for Netflix and many other media companies within the States. 

“It’s messed up that [Netflix] produced [Dahmer] without talking to the families,” senior Armando Hernandez said. “But it’s not like corporations like [Netflix] care about other people.”

The greed and disregard of these media companies is creating a glorified pedestal and placing the true crime genre atop it. Serial killers such as Jeffery Dahmer have shows, books and movies made about them. They have become American celebrities all in the name of profit.

However, many fans of the true crime genre don’t recognize an issue with certain aspects of what the media releases, so long as it satisfies their curiosity.

“I find [serial killers] fascinating,” senior Aidan Wantulok said. “I think it’s acceptable for the media to produce [true crime content]. It’s awful, but very interesting to learn what goes through their minds, or what they experienced to become what they are.”

Not only are serial killers captivating audiences’ minds, but certain figures have found their way into their hearts as well.

“I’ve seen some thirst trap edits on TikTok about Dahmer,” Hernandez said. “It’s crazy to think that people can see past a person’s horrible actions and find them anywhere near attractive.”

The obsessive attraction to characters of true crime is one that confuses many.

“I find the idea of attraction to serial killers bizarre,” Hawley said. “It makes no sense to me why someone would find themselves attracted to a person who killed others who were also attracted to them… just because the killer looks good or is ‘misunderstood’”.

Regardless of the motive behind the interest, the media has all but fallen short of creating a profit off of the extortion and murder of hundreds of victims.