I will admit, I downloaded TikTok at the beginning of the pandemic in an attempt to mindlessly entertain myself – and it worked pretty well. One of the things that I noticed was that the presence of true crime fanatics translated almost immediately from Youtube to TikTok. I’ve always had a pretty weak stomach when it comes to consuming disturbing content (like horror movies and depictions of serial killers), but it was nearly impossible to avoid it on my for you page. I also realized that quite a few of my friends were really interested in this sort of subject, so I began diving into the phenomena to try and find the appeal. I realized more than anything that people have an incredible tolerance for unsettling stories and images. There are always a few videos on my fyp with comments like ‘don’t click the link you’ll regret it’ and ‘I don’t claim the negative energy from this video’ so I was always curious as to why people would choose to seek a deeper experience with these conspiracies and gory types of videos.
It’s like the metaphor of a car crash, you can’t look away no matter how much you want to and probably should. There was also a big wave of popularity in 2019 for the true crime documentary titled “Don’t F**k with Cats”. There are a few reasons for which I (and others) believe people find these sorts of documentaries, podcasts, articles and videos to be so fascinating – inspiration (they romanticize the actions of these criminals and aspire to be like them), research (they want to find out what makes a person fall into the life of crime and how to avoid it or those kinds of people), or just a general spirit of curiosity. The curiosity aspect of this interest can be seen in a few ways, whether its because of the murder-mystery appeal, seeing how you would respond if you were a victim of these crimes, being inspirired by the perserverence of certain victims, or just simply because it is someow piquing an interest.
One of the main topics that has always been a point of contention for me is the romanticization of serial killers. Why are there so many high-budget movies out there that glamorize a life of running from the law while ending innocent lives? I don’t mean to glamorize as in the serial killers are living their best lives while going shopping in Paris, but rather the humanising of these people in attempts of making target audiences feel empathetic. Examples of this sort of display are getting Zac Efron to play Ted Bundy in a movie, Penn Badgley in YOU and Ross Lynch as Jeffrey Dahmer. A big argument that I have seen resurfacing lately is the fact that these films and depictions of serial killers as suave, meticulous and successful in their plans not only downplay the severity of their actions, but also create a narrative that almost erases the suffering of their victims.