Ethical Violations and Mental Health Awareness
I thought I loved true crime. However, I can say that I have confidently fallen out of love with it. I used to really enjoy it, but the older I get, the more I realize I don’t like crime; I like mysteries.
One of my favorite online shows is Buzzfeed Unsolved, especially the true crime one; I don’t feel guilty consuming it as the cases are often very old, and the people affected by the crimes are often long dead.
However, I have found myself unable to enjoy most modern true crime stories. A lot of time, the media can focus on the gore, the crimes, and the criminals and often don’t focus on the victims or the people who have been emotionally impacted by the crimes.
While I find I can still consume a documentary, I can’t watch the Hollywood sensationalized versions of these stories like “Jeffery Dahmer” on Netflix.
Now in talking about why I won’t consume this show, there is a lot I could talk about. I could address the erasure of real-life black people in the front. I could address the gore in the show or the disgusting amount of “thirsting” after this serial Killer on the internet.
Instead, I am going to focus on the mental health impact that shows as these have on the family members of the victims. Family members of the victims found out when all of us did that this show was going to be on Netflix. I don’t think I need to jump through too many hoops to convince you that having some of your lowest moments depicted on Netflix is not a great experience.
Many of the victims report that every time shows like this are remade, they find it re-traumatizes them all over again.
In the study entitled “The Burden of Loss: Unexpected Death of a Loved One and Psychiatric Disorders Across the Life Course in a National Study,” researchers found that “Among those with at least four potentially traumatic experiences, more than 30% reported that unexpected death of a loved one was the worst event that they experienced. Among those with at least five and upwards of at least 11 potentially traumatic experiences, more than 20% reported the unexpected death of a loved one as the worst. A higher proportion reported unexpected death as their worst experience than for any other traumatic experience assessed in the survey, at every level of exposure.”
To summarize, losing a loved one is an incredibly traumatic experience and having the loss of your loved one to be sensationalized or depicted on TV without your consent is a humongous ethical violation and a nauseating lack of empathy.
Not only are you reminded that they are no longer with you, but you also have to be reminded of the graphene manner in which they died and watch stupid teenagers on the internet thirst after their Killer.
If you want to talk about a crime in a documentary or educational manner, that’s fine. But to depict such horrific violence and often elevate it is just cruel. For example, in the scene in the show where Dahmer works at a blood bank and steals blood to drink it, that’s not really what happened.
Dahmer stole a tiny amount of blood and then spat it out.
While the producers of this show claim to be about “the underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight,” if that was what the show was really about, they would have consulted the victims and worked to tell the story from their point of view, not Dahmer’s.
The show handles the lives of the victims with such little tack that I think that this comes off as surface-level pandering to society’s current progressive values. If they actually wanted to talk about the systemic issues that black people face in our nation, the main characters would have been through the lens of the people of color affected by his crimes.
The only positive thing that came out of this show was that actors of color got to have an opportunity to be on screen. But it is my personal opinion that depicting racism in this manner isn’t the move.
While it absolutely played a part in why it took so long for Jeffrey to be apprehended, I think that talking about racism affected people fifty years ago can allow people to believe the lie that things aren’t like that anymore.
I also feel like everyone neglects to remember the fact that Jeffrey Dahmer was a rapist before he was a serial killer, and even though we know of 17 victims, that’s just the list of the murder victims. So many more people were date raped by this man, and the true number of people affected and lives ruined can not be truly quantified.
If we were going to give a spotlight to someone, it definitely shouldn’t be on the killer. There’s a reason why when we talk about mass shootings, we don’t talk about the shooter. We talk about the victims. That is the approach that should have been taken with this show.
As for you, the reader, I don’t think you should be watching it either. When we, as consumers, watch these kinds of shows, we tell producers and directors that these are the kinds of shows that we are interested in watching.
You can, of course, do whatever you want, but watch with your brain turned on. Recognize how these shows affect people.