From Caution Tape to TV Screens


Kylie Pavlovsky, Editor in Chief

True crime dates back to the early 16th century. The earliest murder recorded was 430,000 years ago, yet not the last. As the years progressed, true crime grew increasingly popular with shows such as America’s Most Wanted and Dateline becoming fan favorites. New true crime films drop daily, “Dahmer” among many. With these new films, the line between nonfiction and fantasy becomes blurred and the topic of desensitization leaves for an open discussion

“I think social media glamorizes serial killers too much,” said sophomore Lee Warren. “For example, the compliments of being “intelligent.” I don’t think that’s an OK thing to say because if they were truly intelligent, they wouldn’t have killed someone.” 

Even in films that are educational and provide good information, the use of a popular celebrity in the cast may do more harm than good. 

“While true crimes can be entertaining to watch, sometimes when the killer is acted or played by an attractive actor/actress, people seem to forget what that killer was known for,” said junior Rome Holmes. “They then focus on the said person playing him or her.”

Examples of popular actors as serial killers are Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, Evan Peters as Charles Manson, Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer and Neil Patrick Harris as Paul Kenneth Keller. On social media apps such as TikTok, edits and videos idolizing these killers can be seen with a simple search. An edit of Ross Lynch playing Jeffrey Dahmer currently has over 25 million views and 3 million likes. 

“They’re not right. It’s glorifying them which we shouldn’t do because they murdered people and that affects their families,” junior Gianna Gonzalez said. “Bringing it up on social media brings back unpleasant memories and past trauma.” 

On September 21, 2022, a new show about Jeffrey Dahmer was released. It’s a fictional retelling and focuses heavily on Dahmer’s backstory. It is now one of over 10 shows and movies that tells the story of what he did. It has also received backlash and tore the true-crime community into many sides. 

“We already have a ton of shows, books, and movies about Dahmer,” said Warren. “He has to be one of the most notorious serial killers, but with all this media around him there’s been a clear lack of acknowledgement from the victims family.” 

The families in question have spoken out about the show. Rita Isbell’s brother, Errol Lindsey, was a victim of Dahmer. During his sentencing, Isbell had a breakdown and that exact scene was recreated word-for-word in the new show without her consent. She stated she was not happy with this adaptation. 

“They shouldn’t have done that,” said Gonzalez. “Even if they did get her consent, they shouldn’t have made a whole show about it. I feel bad for her. She should definitely sue.”

Although it is fine to enjoy true crime, there is a line between what’s real and what’s not. Serial killers are real people as well as their victims and their actions. 

“It’s only OK to watch in a documentary or in a book,” Gonzalez said. “When it doesn’t have the consent of the families then that’s when it’s simply for profit.”