19 February 2019
With many docuseries like “Conversations with a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes” and full length dramatizations like, “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” (a movie detailing the life and crimes of Charles Manson), America’s fascination with its most infamous killers seems to be on the rise in 2019.
Almost half a century since their crimes were committed, these real life monsters have recaptured our attention in a way that I can only imagine they would take pleasure in.
Ted Bundy was responsible for a confirmed 30 murders of young women in seven different U.S. states. His youngest victim was just 12-years-old. These murders were grizzly, horrific and were committed with no hesitation.
Charles Manson was a cult leader responsible for orchestrating nine California murders with the so-called “Manson Family.” He was known for manipulating his followers into committing heinous murders and various other crimes.
However, for some reason, these two are making major “on-screen” comeback and receiving undeserved attention: it’s disturbing.
The retellings of these murders should remind us of the horrific potential of the human race, and leave us feeling uneasy or even disgusted, yet so many are excited and thrilled by these gruesome true stories.
One of the most sickening parts about the recent buzz around these two, specifically, is that it’s a well-documented fact that they both thrived on attention. They loved the fame that their crimes brought them; it was like a twisted reward. And although both Charles Manson and Ted Bundy are not alive to reap the reward that the big screen has brought them, it’s still unsettling to think of how they might have enjoyed it.
Knowing how truly appalling these men were, why are viewers still glued to the screen?
Undeniably, there is a certain adrenaline rush associated with watching these true crimes in any capacity. But the level of intrigue surrounding the tragedy of others might be telling to the current state of empathy in Americans.
I think we watch because, in some way, we think it makes us more powerful than the killer. As if knowing how things played out would have saved us if we ever were put in that position. But why we enjoy it — that’s a whole other psychological mystery. Charles Manson himself once said, “I am just a mirror. Anything you see in me is you.”
To an extent, this has contributed to a sort of glorification of American murderers and has immortalized them as classic Hollywood villains. And even worse, it places them on higher platforms than the people they killed.
One of the major flaws for me in the “Conversations with a Killer” series from Netflix was that it barely addresses the victims. It tells how they died and where they lived, but I left feeling as though it showed everything about Ted Bundy and almost nothing about the lives he took. In fact, by the end of it I am not sure I could even say I learned their names.
Bundy is being brought back to life yet again in 2019, with the highly anticipated movie, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” His seems to be a story that our society just can’t keep its hands off of.
Keeping this all in mind, I hope that in the future, when these stories are inevitably retold, they are done in such a way that does not uplift the killer but instead pays fair tribute to the victims.