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Column: Why Hollywood should stop glorifying crime

February 6, 2019

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile is a whimsical way to present the story of serial killer Ted Bundy through motion picture poorly executed. The film is from the perspective of his longtime girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer played by Lily Collins, who did not acknowledge the truth of Bundy’s actions. While it can be inferred that the trailer, dropped Jan. 26, was attempting to portray the charisma and allure of Bundy, Efron’s good looks and the overall cheesy cinematography and dialogue dominated the screen instead. 

Dark stories draw audiences in. Serial killers and criminals entertain us. The media is filled with gloomy anecdotes that we can’t seem to peel our eyes away from. Though, there is a way to approach entertainment depicting such violent or grotesque crimes without glorifying a criminal’s actions. 

Social media, especially sites like Twitter and Tumblr, are full of young, naive users. In the past few years, there seems to have been a large increase in the amount that criminals are discussed on the internet. A lot of people, women especially, have shown attraction to the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, who was an American serial killer and sex offender, and Dylann Roof, a white supremacist and mass murderer responsible for the Charleston church shooting. 

Tweet after tweet can be found romanticizing their actions and lusting after their attractiveness. On one occasion, I found a video montage dedicated to Roof where the creator explicitly wished the two of them, Roof and herself, could one day be together.

This sort of behavior is not only disturbing, but damaging to victims of violence and their families. To glorify sexual violence and murder is equivalent to forgetting the victim. To sexualize a human being who hurt another is to allow the names of victims to disappear into a puff of nothingness. To romanticize criminal tendencies is to create an inability to prevent repetition of such drastic crimes. To praise mass murderers and evil persons through media like film and literature is to harm the families of the victims by reminding them that their loved one is nothing but a memory tarnished by the wicked actions of another. 

Films like Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile are not educational. Directors and producers alike can see the potential interest from viewers and choose to make profit for themselves based off of others' misfortune. 

Though, none of this is to say that there shouldn’t be a market for media containing information about famous killers. Productions like Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and Evil Genius: The True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist are both documentary series which examine and evaluate the mental state of criminals and methodology that goes into committing such vicious crimes. They still possess an entertainment value, but the purpose is more clear, to take a viewer through the entirety of a case, including investigations and convictions. We see the “bad guys” go where they belong, or where society deems it appropriate for them to go, places like prison. 

We should work towards educating others on what and who to be wary of. We should use these upsetting stories in order to help families process grievances more clearly in the future. We should use these examples of insanity as a way to help introduce better mental health awareness and care. We should use these famous cases as a way to evaluate methods of criminal intent, in order of catch and prosecute current mass murderers. We can learn lessons from entertainment, rather than lusting after criminals or glorifying their actions. 

Emily Ludwa is a weekly columnist for The State News.

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