Serial killers seducing social media



The cover art of Netflix’s Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story series.

by Emily Rice, Managing Editor

The sexualization of serial killers is nearly as bad as the crimes they commit. How has modern society stooped to such an all-time low? 

On September 21, Netflix released “Dahmer,” a documentary based on the life of Jeffrey Dahmer and the people he killed. After 12 days alone, it had reached 496.1 million hours of watch time. Since the release, the show has reached a total watch time of more than 701 million hours, making it Netflix’s second-most popular English language series of all time.

Since its debut, fans on social media have been obsessed with sexualizing the appearance of lead actor Evan Peters in his role as Jeffrey Dahmer. However, the idolizing and romanticizing of serial killers like Dahmer is unacceptable and disgusting. 

The creation of the show alone has already negatively impacted the victims’ families. Friends and families of the victims are forced to relive the trauma of losing a loved one through the show’s intense reenactments of their murders. Netflix did not ask any families for permission or even inform them that the show was being made and would feature them and their loved ones. 

“When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself … I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said,” said Rita Isbell, a sibling of one of Dahmer’s victims, in an article by Insider

Isbell explained how her trauma resurfaced after “Dahmer” was released. She lived through her brother’s death and seeing her name plastered on the screen of Netflix’s new show brought back every single emotion from that day. Isbell said that her brother did not live only for himself. He was a dad, and in the present, he would have been a grandfather. This heart-breaking fact is only emphasized through the release of the new series.

“’It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,’” said Isbell. 

These comments and opinions spawning from the show only worsen the effects of these murders on Dahmer’s indirect victims. Not only must they relive it, but they must also see people interpret his carnage as something worthy of empathy or even, somehow, attraction.

The comments underneath edits on TikTok of Evan Peters playing Dahmer showing fans sexualizing him. (Emily Rice)

This reaction is completely insensitive to the families of Dahmer’s victims. Fascinating over someone that has killed and tortured 16 men and boys is vile. Not comprehending how this is unacceptable is concerning. It reflects poorly on the mental health of those making these internet videos and society as a whole.  

Fans of the show on TikTok have gone as far as demonstrating interest in the real-life polaroids that Dahmer took of his victims and proceed to look them up on the internet. Multiple videos show how fans react to the real polaroids that Dahmer took himself.   

This is not the first instance of serial killers or other horrific people finding attention and adoration on the internet. “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” is a Ted Bundy film that actor Zac Efron stars in. Fans of Zac Efron had similar reactions back in 2019 as some are doing now with Dahmer. The difference, though, is Dahmer is an actual serial killer, not an actor.

Bundy confessed to committing 20 to 30 murders in 1974, yet some estimated he was responsible for hundreds of deaths. Even with this information easily found on the internet, people are still fascinated by him. It seems like the more well-known the actor is, the more fans continue to sexualize the killer. 

I’ve seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service — almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers.

— Netflix

Many students at Linganore High School are frustrated with the way Jeffrey Dahmer is being idolized and sexualized on social media. Junior Lizzy Miller is one of them. She is a true crime junkie, and while she enjoys researching the psychology behind well known criminals, she is horrified by the internet’s response to the new show.

“Honestly, I think it’s disgusting, because you have to realize what these people did and how horrible and traumatic they were. I mean, the stuff Dahmer did was absolutely horrific– like, he was a murderer, cannibal, and pedophile,” she said. “It’s disgusting that people think something like that is hot.”

People on social media never actually talk about the horrifying crimes these people have committed, only how attractive the actor is or the killer himself. The fact Netflix has noticed what fans have been nonstop talking about shows how much of a problem this has become.

Our society is beginning to completely normalize sexualizing and romanticizing killers, so much so that pop culture consumerism has taken notice.

This fan-made Ted Bundy Funko Pop figure features him shirtless with abs. (Mikey Heller)

In 2019, Mikey Heller tweeted a picture of a fan-made Funko Pop figure of “Super Hot Murderers,” and it is a doll of shirtless Ted Bundy.

Their caption was “I think the sexualization of Ted Bundy has gotten out of control.” 

The amount of sexualization of serial killers that is manifesting on social media is deeply concerning, particularly for the mental health of those perpetuating it.

The sexualization of serial killers in series like “Dahmer” can potentially lead to Hybristophilia. This condition is defined as a sexual interest in and attraction to those who commit crimes. Women are more affected by this disorder more than men. They see criminals as misunderstood, sexy and in need of their love.

This condition is most often seen in women who write to and develop relationships with convicted criminals serving time in prison.

According to Women’s Health, “There are several unstudied theories behind the attraction, like enjoying attention, being needed and being in a relationship with someone that’s highly controllable.” 

There are drastic consequences to the obsession with serial killers that is being perpetuated by social media. This sexualization has continued for way too long and it needs to end.