real dimmer? How Netflix fails to weed out a killer

The first episode of Netflix’s buzzing new true crime series, “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” unfolds like a horror movie. Dahmer (played by Evan Peters) roams a nightclub full of young black men. He approaches three club-goers and convinces one of them, Tracy Edwards (Sean J. Brown), to go home with him. Dahmer promised Edwards a paid photo, but in his apartment he drugged Edwards before holding him with a knife and telling him he would eat his heart after killing him. A cat-and-mouse encounter with creeping horror unfolds; It is impossible to know if or when Dahmer would hit with this knife.

The tide turns as Edwards makes his way to the front door and escapes. When skeptical police officers bring to Dahmer’s doorstep, they discover the killer’s ever-growing haunted house, including a bowl full of body parts and a severed head in the freezer. We’re seeing the end of Dahmer’s horror spree, however, and this nightmarish opening sequence captures the spirit of the series.

We’re supposed to be afraid of Dahmer, aka the Milwaukee Monster, because he’s able to use his whites to hide in plain sight. No matter how much evidence accumulated against him, he was able to escape. Instead of serving a prison sentence for sexually assaulting a teenage boy, he was put on probation the first time and only then was sentenced to a year in prison the second. Instead of being arrested when his neighbor Glenda Cleveland (convincingly Niecy Nash) finds a 14-year-old boy who has fled his home, Dahmer convinces the police that it’s just a quarrel between lovers.

It is clear that Dahmer has mastered the art of blending – and using the incompetence of police officers to his advantage. That should terrify us now, just as it terrified the nation more than 30 years ago. And if planting and amplifying that horror was the goal of the Netflix series, it worked. The show had one of Biggest debut week in the history of the streaming device and it has generated enough conversation to trend on Twitter. However, if the display The goal is to restore the Dahmer Victims Center – As model Ryan Murphy claims – then he failed miserably.

If planting and amplifying this terror was the goal of the Netflix series, it worked.

To be fair, Murphy’s stated goal isn’t a bad one. America is a culture obsessed with serial killers, but stories about their crimes often focus on “monsters” rather than the consequences. And while we’re still learning a little too much about Dahmer’s background, the series is at least trying to reverse this common Hollywood scenario.

There is an entire episode dedicated to Dahmer’s neighbor Glenda, who repeatedly called the police about his suspicious behavior and the strange smell emanating from his apartment. A particularly poignant episode follows one of Dahmer’s victims, Tony Hughes (Rodney Burford), who is deaf and only seeks friendship when he crosses paths with cannibals. In this way, Dahmer attempts to recast the serial killer’s story into something more sympathetic. But why do we need to recreate (and capitalize on) these murders in order to feel empathy for Dahmer’s victims, especially when the victims said they were primarily LGBTQ + men of color?

It’s the same question that some family members of Dahmer’s real-life victims are asking today. Rita Ispel, sister of victim Errol Lindsey, He said from inside That neither Netflix nor the show’s producers reached out to the families before their personal tragedies were revealed (again) for ratings. “It’s sad that they are only making money from this tragedy,” she said. “This is just greed.”

And she’s not the only relatives who speak out. Eric Berry, a member of the Lindsey family, told Los Angeles Times“I want people to understand that this is not just a story or a historical fact, this is the life of real people. [Lindsey] He was someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father, or someone’s friend was taken away from him [our] Lives.” For Isbell and Perry, this re-enactment is clearly shocking. It’s hard to see how that price tag is worth it.

Americans need no more “awareness” of serial killers. And in the case of a crime that took place many years ago, it’s hard to see what the series can realistically achieve in the context of police accountability.

But there are darker consequences for shows like “Dahmer”: a serial killer. In the days following its release, the numbers of TikTok users He seems to romanticize the killer and feel sorry for him. not him who – which bad. Maybe I just misunderstood! And by the way, have you seen how beautiful his glasses are?

In the wake of Johnny Depp Amber Heard defamation Case, and the way the experience has been triggered on TikTok in particular, this seems like a very predictable outcome. Serial killers like Ted Bundy It has also been widely romanticized and fascinated by Hollywood over the past few years. Show-goers shouldn’t be surprised (and may have been counting on) what’s going on here.

We may never be able to separate ourselves from the real crime phenomenon. And to be fair, this is not an inherently bad thing – after all, Adnan Syed is free today Partly because of the success of the “serial”. But we need to approach these stories with self-awareness and real (not artificial) empathy. We need to be honest about the consequences of recounting the real tragedies. Above all, we need to take into account the wishes of the families most affected by these crimes. This is what true humanization looks like.

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