By Gizele Touré
Personally, I have many thoughts about the new Dahmer series. I would like to say that Evan Peters did such an amazing job portraying such a bone-chilling and complex person. He is absolutely fantastic, and there are many times when you’re forced to stop the show just to say, wow….this really happened. I mean, I could literally feel the emotions from the characters seeping through the screen. Niecy Nash did an impeccable job as well!! Normally we see her in comedic roles, but this dramatic role was insane. My eyes were practically glued to the screen as I watched episode after episode. All of the actors and directors really did such a great job depicting all of the different angles to this crazy story… but it seems like the show is becoming popular for all of the wrong reasons, and I do fear that people aren’t seeing it for its real purpose.
In an interview, actor Evan Peters points out that the show is in no way hailing Jeffery Dahmer. Instead, it’s meant to show cops’ brutality and hatred towards minorities during the 1900’s, and how that same abusive structure allowed this real-life sociopath and serial killer to get away with this horror for so long. Watchers get to see how homophobia flooded the justice system, and how easy it was for a white man in the 1970’s to go through 13 years of murder without once getting caught, no matter how obvious the issue was. But still, viewers fail to see its purpose and begin to fictionalize and romanticize the series. This is seen many many times in both fictional and true crime series on serial killers, and now even more since platforms like Tiktok and Twitter have surfaced.
For example, many may have noticed that when Netflix’s 2021 documentary Night Stalker was released, the serial killer Richard Ramirez gained an immense amount of popularity and the show itself began to spiral and attract an obsessive–and rather enthusiastically big–fan base. People became infatuated with him and went as far as sending fan mail, to making sexualized fan edits* of the killer that practically raided the hit social media platform TikTok. This is also seen when Netflix released the Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile film that starred Zac Efron to play the notorious serial killer, Ted Bundy. Watching the movie and seeing scenes that portrayed such unlawful and immoral behavior was meant to help viewers fully grasp what kind of a monster Ted Bundy really was. Instead, fans were again seen editing these scenes, calling the serial killer “hot” or “attractive.” (*fan edits – when one composes a video filled with scenes and or pictures using transitions or effects, can be clips taken from movies or tv shows).
Along with that, I also believe that film directors can be to blame for this. It has become a trend for directors to cast male heartthrobs to play insane characters. Again for example: Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer, and now Evan Peters who plays Dahmer as well. Well known director Ryan Murphy, who is in charge of making the show American Horror Story, as well as Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, is notorious for using this technique to exploit people in order to harbor more views. He is commonly known for mixing both eroticism and horror into shows. And this can seem kind of weird and confusing for viewers when they see their favorite handsome male lead playing a real serial killer who raped and killed real people.
These problems are becoming even bigger regarding this new fictional series on Jeffery Dahmer. Viewers are becoming attracted to the actual killer and are practically glorifying Jeffery Dahmer himself. Dahmer wasn’t some poor lost soul: he was a deranged cannibalistic satanist, and yet viewers are still trying to drown him in sympathy. Both the media and society are constantly drowning out the actual seriousness of what they are dealing with. This is definitely the negative side of making these kinds of series and documentaries. It is the fans and directors like this that honestly make it hard to enjoy anything. They are constantly failing horribly to grasp the purpose of these kinds of shows.
Overall, I think that the series’ accuracy is absolutely amazing and I hope that the victims can now rest in peace knowing that their story has been told. But way too many people are blowing the show out of proportion and society as a whole needs to stop desensitizing the representation of sexual and physical violence regarding serial killers. People need to realize that it is not funny, cute, or quirky, to continue to do these types of things. It can especially pollute young minds and make teens think that things like this are ok. And once brutality is normalized through publicity, it becomes real in private. I love this show because it portrays how the justice system continues to fail people of color and how they are forced to fight just for a say in their own prerogative rights. But honestly, I’m disgusted by the lack of care from the fans who are making it extremely hard to enjoy anything.