"While the show does bring to light how Dahmer’s crimes stayed under the police’s radar due to racism and homophobia, the show was also very re-traumatizing for the victims’ families and friends." -- Drax Richardson, 8th grade
Ryan Murphy’s latest Netflix show, Dahmer - Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has stirred up a lot of mixed opinions. It’s a well made TV show that goes into depth of what happened to Dahmer’s victims and the repercussions of racism and homophobia. It really shows what happened to Dahmer throughout his life and how he managed to avoid being caught for so long because his victims were mostly young, black, queer men.
While the show does bring to light how Dahmer’s crimes stayed under the police’s radar due to racism and homophobia, the show was also very re-traumatizing for the victims’ families and friends. Quite unfortunately, Murphy and Netflix did not ask any of the victims families and friends if they would like to be featured in the show, if it was okay to use their statements, or if they even felt comfortable with the whole show being made. Eric Perry, cousin of Rita Isebell, who is the sister of one of Dahmer's victims, spoke out in a recent Time’s article. “I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show,” Perry said. “It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?” It’s really quite sad to see Netflix completely ignore these people's lives and what they’ve been through just for ratings.
Another very unfortunate thing that’s been happening after Monster’s release is the sudden romanticism of Dahmer. Many younger viewers have joined a trend of “fantasizing” about him. It’s really disgusting to think of people joking around about something that is so serious and has damaged so many people's lives.
“People romanticizing Jeffery Dahmer because Evan Peters is hot, doesn’t sit right with me… and it’s happened before with Zac Efron as Ted Bundy??” says ‘Ziv’ from Twitter in a Glamour article. Many people agree with Ziv. This isn’t the first time this has happened. It’s happened with quite a few other true crime movies and actors. For example in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile with Zac Efron playing Ted Bundy. It was also an inherently romantic movie, causing more romanticism, sexualization, and sensationalism of someone who committed extreme violence. While this shouldn’t happen, it will likely continue to, but we need to remember there is always a limit to what we make, especially if it could harm others physically or mentally.
“It’s important to investigate the darker parts of the world. The reality is these are focused on things that are alive in our world,” said Amelia Whitcomb, a teacher at OSA. “Fiction can be a tool to make sense of the senselessness of living. Of violence and cruelty. But it must be done thoughtfully. Especially when drawing from real life. We have to think of the purpose behind what we create.” Whitcomb understands the raging popularity of the show, but does not condone how it was made and many people's responses to it.
Cb Omand, 7th grader at OSA, said that before they watched it they thought it might be more of a documentary. “It would be a lot more helpful,” said Omand. “A documentary about all the things he [Dahmer] did. A reenactment might just be taking it too far because of how negatively it impacted so many people.”
Whitcomb seemed to agree with Omand, saying that it made her a little uncomfortable about how it was told. Whitcomb thinks she might not be able to finish the show as it is so gruesome and doesn't help anyone or solve any big problems.
In the end, many people are boycotting the show because unfortunately it does more harm than good. Omand thinks that Netflix should just remove the show because of how much backlash they are getting and how upset it made the victims’ families and friends. It’s really a shame because if it wasn’t a reenactment and it focused more on what happened because of Dahmers actions, it could’ve educated a lot of people on what actually happened and why Dahmer went unpunished for so long because of racism and homophobia.