Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

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Offical poster for Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story

Gretchen Roaden, Staff Writer

Netflix released the new series “Monster” about the twisted killer Jeffrey Dahmer, starring Evan Peters. The series graphically details how Dahmer committed his murders. Each episode was supposed to be dedicated to the victims that most deserved the screen, however the execution has been very controversial. 

The fascination with serial killers has been very prevalent in media lately, from true crime podcasts to horror films. The idea of serial killers is interesting to many, but does reenactment on the screen give them too much publicity?

Family and friends of the victims were able to plead their statements in court which have been reenacted on screen . One specific episode shows actress DaShawn Barnes reenacting the pain Rita Isbell, victim Errol Lindsey’s sister,  showed in the actual sentencing. Isbell claims that she was not contacted by Netflix before the show was released. 

 “When I saw myself on the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said… Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That’s why I felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then,” Isbell says in her essay for Insider

Isbell also states that she feels Netflix released this show without any thought to what could actually help the victims. “I could even understand it if they gave some of the money to the victims’ children,” she says. “Not necessarily their families. I mean, I’m old. I’m very, very comfortable. But the victims have children and grandchildren. If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless.” 

If Netflix decided to give the victims’ families a warning and the credit they deserve for being the people whose lives are portrayed through a television show, this series wouldn’t be as controversial, however there’s more. 

This series is really no different from other motion pictures about Dahmer, as some have been glorified or romanticized  in some way. In 2017, “My Friend Dahmer” was released. Starring Ross Lynch, a former Disney Channel star, the film follows Dahmer as a teen in high school. The movie presents Dahmer as having thoughts of killing, before he became well known as a morbid manslayer. 

Lynch was previously known for Disney originals like “Austin & Ally” and “Teen Beach Movie,” singing and dancing on screen. Instead, Lynch portrays a teen who would soon be known as a monstrous killer. 

US Magazine quotes Lynch, saying, “I was really to myself and alone, like Dahmer throughout his childhood.” However, just because he was alone in his childhood does not mean he was like Dahmer at all. This can confuse young minds, considering Lynch started his career playing in teen shows, then  plays a role about a real serial killer. Usually, viewers tend to root for the actor they like. If they like Lynch, then they’re more likely to root for Dahmer on the screen. 

The actors in these films are potentially seen as good-looking, well known men, but if appearance takes precedence what is the real reason for producing these shows? Each year it seems to be common for Netflix to present the audience with horror content, however the content they release is not always interpreted the way it should. Over the course of 13 years, Dahmer was accountable for raping and killing 17 men. Creating entertainment to viewers about anything other than the victims does enough to glamorize serial killers on its own.