We need to stop romanticizing serial killers

Sakina Ghatalah, Forum Editor

Good looks get people places. Some of those places are jail. Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, Andrew Cunanan, Jeffrey Dahmer, and many more serial killers are labeled the most ‘good looking’ and charming murderers in history. It’s understandable if people have opinions on a serial killer’s looks, but the internet has become a cesspool of morbid tweets and comments towards people that have tortured, raped, and murdered multiple people, some of those children and most of them women.

Users on Twitter and other social media platforms have begun romanticizing serial killers, especially Ted Bundy in the wake of his documentary and new movie. The movie itself has garnered criticism, which is pretty fair given the trailer. Judging based on the trailer and name, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, I get the sense it’s going to be a more witty dramatic thriller instead of a movie addressing a man who confessed to killing over 30 women and is thought to have murdered, mutilated, and raped over 100.

However, Twitter users continued commenting on his looks.


Zac Efron starring as Ted Bundy has also contributed to this deranged response. Netflix even had to issue a tweet countering the notions of Twitter users, writing, “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.” I can’t imagine how the families of the young women feel when seeing such responses as they show a complete disregard for the lives that were lost, lives that had hopes and bright futures.

However, some people have taken this to a whole new level: they are writing love letters to mass shooters and murderers. “Night Stalker” Richard Ramirez, rapist and serial killer, had many admirers due to his looks. One woman wrote him 75 letters and he later married her. Nikolas Cruz, who took over 17 young lives when he opened fire at his high school, has gotten letters, money, and graphic photographs from hundreds of men and women, some complimenting his looks and others confessing their love for him.

Will this type of response eventually become normalized as we become increasingly desensitized to shootings?

It’s unacceptable for people to be thirsting over and glamorizing sociopaths. This brings up the question—should movies and TV shows be made which can lead to this sort of romanticizing? I feel that creating awareness for the horror and tragedy that these people solicited is a better approach than the fantasized one being twisted by fans. Even in the series “You,” the main character is a stalker and murderer, yet there are women on the internet making excuses for his actions and expressing their attraction to him. And it’s directed towards the character, not just the actor.

The way with which we make such shows and movies is impacting how audiences react. Cinematographers at times draw a thin line between ‘romantic’ and abusive, and that’s impacting our societies response as many of the audience members are blurring that line and normalizing stalkers, abusive partners, and in some cases murderers.

Netflix’s documentary on Ted Bundy did a better job at showing the promising lives that were lost and the impact of his crimes, yet it’s also made him into a celebrity of sorts for a new generation. His story is circulating with the power of the internet, a lot more than stories of the dozens he tortured. And yet again, his renewed popularity lead to people leaving comments like ‘I wish I was the electric chair’ or Twitter users labeling him daddy, which makes me want to cringe very hard. I’m also thinking of the victims families who are forced to relive the memories of their young daughters cruel deaths.

I’m not sure what an effective solutions is, but maybe showing the aftermath and pain of the victims could hopefully minimize people tweeting and displaying their affection for murders. When people realize that actual lives are being lost and these people are to blame, the affectionate response would be limited or admirers would keep their glamorized view of the murderers to themselves.