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Stop Sensationalization

Glorification of serial killers is a dangerous and harmful trend.

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Stop Sensationalization

Actor Zac Efron (right) will be portraying serial killer Ted Bundy (left) in the upcoming movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.”

Actor Zac Efron (right) will be portraying serial killer Ted Bundy (left) in the upcoming movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.”

Photos from Wikimedia Commons and MCT Campus

Actor Zac Efron (right) will be portraying serial killer Ted Bundy (left) in the upcoming movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.”

Photos from Wikimedia Commons and MCT Campus

Photos from Wikimedia Commons and MCT Campus

Actor Zac Efron (right) will be portraying serial killer Ted Bundy (left) in the upcoming movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.”

Taylor Pitzl, Web Editor-in-Chief

Charming. Intelligent. Attractive. These are words that fit more in with describing a movie star rather than a serial killer. However, the notorious murderer Ted Bundy, who killed at least 30 women, is often cast in the same light.

The upcoming feature film, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” stars “High School Musical” star Zac Efron as Bundy. While casting a Hollywood heart-throb as the supposedly charming, attractive monster who perpetrated these crimes doesn’t seem like much of a stretch, it glazes over the true depth of Bundy’s manipulation. Bundy wasn’t truly attractive or charming. It was merely a manipulative facade he used to lure innocent women into his trap. No man who raped and beat women to death should be described as “charming.”

This romantic, idealized version of serial killers has repercussions far beyond entertainment. It hurts victims and their families and can encourage others to become copy cats and commit similar crimes.

From podcasts to movies, books to documentaries, pop culture is infatuated with revolting stories of serial killers, unsolved crimes and the “true crime” genre as a whole. However, what is often left out of the conversation, is the healing and compassion for those hurt by these crimes. These victims are stripped of their identities and their whole existence condensed down to their cause of death. They are exploited by the media who use their memory, not to document and remember history, but to sensationalize and derive entertainment from violence.

Not only does obsession with serial killers hurt victims, but it can also encourage more people to follow in Bundy’s footsteps. Thirty years after his execution, Bundy still captures public attention. From the upcoming movie to Netflix’s recently-released four-part docuseries “Conversations with a Serial Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” Bundy seems to have celebrity status. Not only does this give into Bundy’s desires, who always wanted notoriety and attention, it can also push others over the edge and cause them to start murdering in seek of this notoriety. This “contagion” can be seen today in mass shootings, according to a 2015 study from Arizona State University, which suggested that wide-spread media attention contributed to the spread.

There is a fine line between media coverage on violence being educational and historical or it being purely sensationalized entertainment. The latter has dangerous and harmful effects and should be avoided at all costs. From sensationalizing their murders to the glorifying their personalities, many times the media crosses the line when covering serial killers and other violent criminals. Instead of giving these monsters the attention they crave, coverage should be focused on education and history, not entertainment. Let’s leave these criminals and their heinous actions in the history books, not on the movie screens.

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