Have we made serial killing too sexy?


The minute Darren Criss walked into the scene with his perfectly tousled curls and his tight shorts I knew there was going to be a problem.

There is no question that he played the role of Andrew Cunanan incredibly well in the “American Crime Story: The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” and he earned a well-deserved Golden Globe for his talents. But it felt wrong being attracted to a serial killer. I may not have made it very far into the show (keeping up with live TV is hard OK), so perhaps he becomes less attractive as his character became more and more obsessed with murder. However, I was doomed from the start.

I was an avid “gleek”—for those of you who I’ve lost, that’s a term for someone who really stans “Glee”—so naturally I have nurtured a longtime crush on Darren Criss. He serenaded my 13-year-old soul, and though his character, Blaine, sometimes annoyed me, he was and is undeniably good looking. I know I’m not the only one out there who feels this way about Darren Criss, so I have to ask, why him?

Well, first I suppose I should ask why are we making movies and TV shows about serial killers in the first place? Why are we bringing them to fame? In our current world of seemingly endless and meaningless mass shootings and terrorist attacks, why are we taking the time to tell the stories of these killers?

As a journalism student, I have had this discussion from the perspective of media ethics quite frequently in the past three years. Almost always we come to the conclusion that when reporting on a shooting it is best not to dwell too much on the shooter so that we don’t have to worry about inspiring “copycats.” Also, victims are surely still suffering and grieving when the news is being broadcast, so why bring more harm to them by analysing the killer who just terrorized them.

I understand that there is more of a critical distance in the stories like “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” and there is definitely a market out there of people who like to watch movies and TV shows about serial killers, but did they have pick someone so good looking?

Andrew Cunanan murdered five people in three months. His victims included close friends, lovers and idols. One of his murders was committed simply to get a man’s truck. He killed senselessly and publicly before committing suicide eight days after his final victim’s death. Not very attractive if you ask me.

Which leads to my main question: Are we making serial killing too sexy?

Criss isn’t the only example of a murderer turned appealing, unfortunately. “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” the story of Ted Bundy, will premier this weekend at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. And who, you may ask, did they get to play the infamous Ted Bundy? None other than every girl born in the mid to late 90s’ first true love, Zac Efron. Again, why choose someone who has a reputation for being extremely attractive to play a serial killer?

The story is interesting. It is told from the perspective of Bundy’s longtime girlfriend who, evidently, refused to believe the truth about him for years. Perhaps they found a way to make Zac Efron ugly, perhaps he has become a good enough actor to make us forget about teen heartthrob Troy Bolton. But honestly, I doubt it. At this point, it seems like Hollywood likes to make serial killers look glamorous, but I for one am not here for it.

Ted Bundy kidnapped, raped and killed at least 30 people—those are all he confessed to at least—in a four-year span. He was a known necrophile, hebephile and ephebophile, and he lured women by feigning injury. Just looking up details from his life makes me sick. And the worst part is I truly do not think Bundy was ever sorry for what he did. He may have confessed to his crimes, but he succeeded in escaping prison twice before he was eventually executed.

So let’s have Zac Efron play him, right?!

Let’s make him cute, right?!

Let’s tell his story, share it with the world, show people how he defiled and killed women because there’s nobody out there like that anymore who could benefit from some tips, right?!

I may be in the minority, but I don’t think it’s right. I don’t think Hollywood should be able to sexualize horrific crimes for monetary gain. I respect the art of film and television making, I really do, but next time maybe we should stop and think before we make murder so desirable.