Does the Media Glorify Serial Killers?

Source: Creative Commons

Ella Pope, Opinions Writer

The Netflix series, Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story first premiered on September 21, 2022, telling the story of infamous serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. 


Within a month of premiering, the series became the second most-watched English language series on Netflix. The widespread popularity of the show led people to wonder if the dramatization of Dahmer’s life is causing serial killers’ lives to be glamorized.


The main reason that the Netflix series is drawing criticism is due to the reactions of those who watched it. The show has resulted in some viewers claiming that they are fans of Dahmer or that they have empathy for him. These responses caused outrage among many, who felt upset on the behalf of the victims and their families. 


The families of the victims had no input into how the show and its characters would be perceived, and the choices of how to accurately portray the victims and the events of Dahmer’s life were left entirely up to the production staff.


“Film companies should be able to make their own adaptations of true crime events, but only with the permission and input of the victims’ families,” said Isha Shah, a junior at Glenbard South. 


“When shows such as Dahmer are produced, they force the families of the victims to re experience the feelings of losing their loved ones.”


 If a show gains as much popularity as the Dahmer series, many people are going to be talking about it, and this can bring up memories and feelings from the past for the families of the victims.


Rita Isbell, the sister of one of the victims spoke out about the Netflix show, saying she was never contacted by Netflix despite being portrayed in the show. She shared how watching an actor version of herself on the show forced her to relive the tragedy all over again, bringing back emotions she had previously felt.


“When I saw some of the show, it bothered me.” Isbell said. “When I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said.” 


She went on to explain how the actor’s portrayal of her was extremely accurate, to the point where it was off-putting for her. This shows the importance of getting consent from the families of the victims when creating a true crime series, as their original experiences were likely traumatic for those families.


 Without the input of those involved in the events, the shows can glorify the serial killers and their lives, which can be extremely harmful.