Opinion: Jeffrey Dahmer is receiving the wrong type of attention


Credit: Katya Luzarraga

WSPN’s Katya Luzarraga discusses the Netflix show, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” and highlights the drawbacks of the disturbing hit show.

Katya Luzarraga

Why is America so fascinated with serial killers? America’s past-time is filled with true-crime dramas glamorizing a cannibalistic serial killer. Not only is it morally concerning, but it brings into question the appeal of serial killers.

The new Netflix series, “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story,” was released on Sept. 21 with 10 episodes available to viewers. The episodes span across Jeffrey Dahmer’s entire life and tell the disturbing story of how a young boy from Milwaukee turned into one of the most prolific serial killers of all time.

Each episode of the Dahmer series makes the viewer feel sympathy towards either Dahmer or his victims. Viewers watch Dahmer’s parents abandon him while he’s left all alone in a house, and they watch his father teach him how to disembowel roadkill. Finally, viewers watch him murder innocent, unsuspecting men who had bright futures ahead of them.

How should a person react while watching a show about a serial killer? As a viewer, we want to hate these serial killers with every ounce of our being, as we know what they did to their victims. However, as soon as we start watching a show designed to reveal all the intimate details of the killer’s life, we begin to view them as human beings, and we begin to form sympathies begin for a person we shouldn’t feel sympathetic for.

Dahmer was not a human being, and should never be categorized as such. He lacked the capacity to care for others, and he blatantly disregarded the value of human life when he killed his victims. He should be remembered as an evil person, but he is constantly being glamorized by the film industry. This is the wrong type of attention.

It’s not even the sympathies that concern me, it’s the renewed attention these killers are receiving because of their portrayal by attractive and well-known actors. For example, Evan Peters as Dahmer captivates young audiences with his fit body, blue eyes and blonde hair. Dahmer’s signature round-framed glasses transport Peters into a disturbing role that he eloquently navigates through, making him the target of many TikTok fan edits.

When I open TikTok and see “thirst traps” and edits of Peters as Dahmer, with seductive music playing over clips of the show, it’s jarring. For a moment, my brain tricks itself into finding him attractive and intriguing because he looks so normal, just an average blonde guy with abs.

This romanticization of serial killers is any true crime fan’s kryptonite. Everyone wants to see the inner workings of a serial killer’s mind, and the product of romanticization has heightened the attention that they’re getting.

Morally and ethically, true-crimes shows don’t do anything positive to the minds of our generation because they fuel this disturbing fascination with evil people, like Jeffrey Dahmer, and re-traumatize victims who deserve closure.

It’s sick, it’s painful and it’s shameful that shows like “Monster” have allowed people to forget the pain that families of Dahmer’s victims can never forget. The smokescreen distraction of blue eyes, blonde hair and abs that glamorize him, will never change the fact that his victims will never be returning home.

After the show’s release, it began gaining criticism over the fact that the directors didn’t reach out to the families of victims. One of Dahmer’s earlier victims, Errol Lindsey was murdered in 1991 at only 19 years old. Rita Isabell, the sister of Lindsey, led the criticism towards the show. Watching a portrayal of herself on-screen was the first and last time she watched Netflix’s series on Dahmer. Imagine seeing the most traumatic moments of your life being depicted verbatim in a show you didn’t know existed.

In the show’s attempt to highlight victims’ stories, they’ve also reopened the trauma that the victims’ families have been trying to find closure with for years. Isabell claims that she didn’t need to watch the show, because she had already lived it. This sentiment is true for all, and that’s the part that bothers me most.

Ryan Murphy, the director of the series, recently released a statement claiming to reach out to over 20 of Dahmer’s victims’ families to conduct research for the series, yet no one responded. It’s justified why many of the people Murphy and other members of the series contacted did not respond. The families need time to heal, not be interviewed about the person who killed their loved ones.

The Dahmer series is not Netflix’s first true-crime production that has become a number one hit overnight. In 2019, Netflix released the movie, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” which showcased the life of serial killer Ted Bundy. Netflix also released a documentary on John Wayne Gacy, which showed up in my ‘what to watch next’ section minutes after finishing the Dahmer series. Netflix is the problem, and they know it.

Netflix knows how much money they’re making from these true crime series and movies, and they’re putting the economic interests before their moral ethics. Families are getting no compensation from the producers, who are knowingly profiting off of their pain.

My parting thoughts that I leave you with: Please question why a show depicting a cannibalistic serial killer captured your attention. Then, you should follow that up with, why did it become Netflix’s number one hit show?