On September 21, Netflix released Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story. Since then, the series has become the top show on Netflix in different countries on five continents.
As the new show’s popularity has increased, opinions have surfaced around the internet as to whether watching the show is ethical.
When I first heard about the show I was excited to check it out. Then one day, as I was scrolling through Twitter, I saw a tweet that said people watching the show were entertained by the trauma of others. This raised a question I had never asked before: are serial killer crime shows ethical?
I asked my roommate about it and she let me know. The families of Jeffery Dahmer’s victims are still alive and they have never unequivocally approved of Netflix making and releasing this show. Because of this, people have started to wonder why others see it.
The controversy has got me in an odd place – am I watching it or not? I still want to, but I can see where these views are coming from. If I put myself in the shoes of the victims’ families, I don’t think I would be enthusiastic about the situation either.
Here’s what I think – so many movies and documentaries have been made about this particular serial killer. While it’s an interesting subject and people benefit from this type of media, we’re completely blind to who this affects.
There’s enough information out there about Dahmer, and making another show about him feels a bit like hitting a dead horse on Netflix. Maybe we should keep going so that the families of the victims can finally do the same.
Casting American Horror Story star Evan Peters as Dahmer glorifies the serial killer and removes him from the reality of his murders. Fans romanticize and “stanning” Dahmer, forgetting that he’s a serial killer and not actually Peters.
Whenever a new series about a serial killer comes out, we see social media users delving into hybristophilia, the sexual attraction of a person committing a crime. This is wrong because once again it takes away from the reality of Dahmer’s crimes and victims. Although not every viewer has participated in this behavior, it is encouraged by the casting of well-known, conventionally attractive, and relatively popular actors.
This series has been described as intense and difficult to watch. Dahmer’s murders are dramatized and reenacted. This puts the victims’ families in agony, forcing them to relive their worst fears over and over again. Other stomach-turning scenes are shown, such as dissecting street victims and drinking human blood.
Regardless of the gruesomeness of these scenes, the show is psychologically disturbing. Watching Dahmer repeatedly get away with rape, murder and cannibalism reminds viewers that there are people out there who are capable of the worst.
While the show is waiting for me on my list, I don’t think I’ll be streaming it. After listening to the argument and really thinking about these families, I can’t imagine not feeling guilty afterwards.
True crime can be interesting and entertaining, but there’s a fine line between right and wrong. To me this show feels like the line has been crossed in a way that cannot be undone.