Sunday, July 12, 2020
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Serial Killers and Their Dark Appeal

Over the years, there has been a rising infatuation with white male killers in pop culture.  But why? Is it their looks? The way they killed their victims? American media has successfully mass marketed serial killers such as Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer, our resident stars who emit ultimate creep status.

Oftentimes their attractiveness, which is highly debatable, is the common factor that propels them into media. Accounts dedicated to showcasing pictures of these men in their youth, even sitting in court, have captions filled with thirst emojis and words that surely conceal the dark truths of these men.

Recently, Netflix released “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” on Jan. 24. The issue is not that they have managed to dredge up old videotapes and recordings of a man who I would surely run away from, as most people would; it’s that they teter on the edge of hero-like obsession with his heinous acts.

I understand the intrigue and mystery behind men like Ted Bundy. As a usually level-headed person, I often think about the psychological phenomenon found in serial killers.. The “sensitivity chip” we all have is clearly missing, but that also begs the question: are we born evil or do we become evil? How can someone sleep at night knowing they’ve killed people? Apparently, Ted Bundy slept pretty well.

This growing wave of obsession brings up issues that run deeper than infatuation. The implications of knowing that a serial killer who is moderately attractive can have a massive fan base is troubling. What does that mean for their victims? In the case of the public, these victims are often not thought of at all. They became nameless and faceless as their murderer is idolized and cemented in history for all the wrong reasons. To be fair, the most recent movie about Ted Bundy has not come out, therefore judgement can only come from the trailer. But there is little hope that a fair portrayal of his victims will be shown. Their lives matter just as much but most of us do not know their names.

I came across the murder of Laci Peterson and her unborn child. She was murdered by her husband Scott Peterson after finding out he was having an affair. After being convicted, Scott’s presence has blown up. According to an article from SFGate, there has been no shortage of marriage proposals to the convicted killer. Charles Manson was the leader of a cult that committed nine murders. His persona has managed to inspire movies, crime documentaries and covers of songs by famous musicians. But why? It could very well be the danger, or the fact that these men are locked away limiting their chance of causing harm. It could also be that the mere thought of a serial killer is so foreign to our brains, it is a guilty pleasure per se. The exotic nature behind their murders causes mass pandemonium and forces us to consider what it would take to be able to kill in such a gruesome way.

Since the 70’s, the rise of the serial killer has been prominent in media and has now transferred into the social media sphere. Studying the minds of these distraught and evil beings has created new research in the psychology field. By recalling the motives, interviews, and histories of past killers, it has created more than just one stereotype of what a serial killer can look and act like.

Now more than ever, we can reflect on the ever-burning question of nature vs. nurture, although I don’t know if that can ever be answered. The truth of the matter is, we may never actually know why they hurt the people they do. At best, we can shed light on the victims they’ve chosen and not forget the potential futures they had and the grief their families have gone through.

Brittany Zendejas is a fourth year English and Literary Journalism major. She can be reached at