Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer has been all over social media lately: TikTok, Snapchat, Instagram – you name the platform; he received publicity for it. As Halloween As we get closer, I hear more and more people talking about buying a Dahmer costume. In other words, the Netflix show “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story” has caused quite a stir about a serial killer. To be precise, it has clocked up 196.2 million hours of streaming time since its release meeting.
The dramatization of these crimes is rarely discussed, despite the series’ popularity. Few question the impact this ultimately has on victims’ families and their trauma from real-life events. It was conveniently released before Halloween for a money heist. Dahmer’s story may be compelling to a viewer, but its problematic fictionalization of a truly disturbing event that happened makes it not worth watching.
Between the premiere date just before Halloween and the story largely following Dahmer and his development, it’s clear that this show should follow your typical serial murder storyline. But the line begins to blur, beginning with the misrepresentation and sheer disrespect once the show’s focus becomes clear.
The use of traditional horror themes such as gritty locations, jump scares and pure gore belies the show, despite Netflix’s claims in its press release that it was in no way created to tell the story of the victims.”
— Elle Vail ’23
The previous statement that the show would follow victims’ stories not only caused disappointment after its actual release, but also revealed that Netflix was exploiting victims’ stories for a money grab.
As Rotten tomatoes said, “There’s too much Dahmer in Dahmer.” While there is some perspective from the victims, it’s not enough to call it a humanizing act. The Netflix portrayal of Dahmer features a character arc designed to elicit sympathy from the viewer. Facts are only invalidated for Dahmer to keep remembering that he has a character arc. she says: “Like everyone real crime, it plays on the human impulse to understand—perhaps to find some semblance of empathy in—even the most serious acts of violence.” His first murder is portrayed as an accident; Family issues are underscored to divert blame from the killer himself to brain surgery, which is mentioned to divert attention again from Dahmer, who simply has malicious instincts.
I can’t think of a more disturbing outcome than when a traumatic event is re-enacted on screen. The prioritization of money in the creation of this show can be seen especially when Netflix doesn’t have permission. All in all, Netflix’s recovery is incredible for entertainment purposes, but neglects the real events and trauma that bind them together. Netflix disappoints by dramatizing yet another sob story to make the unconcerned feel safe by leaving the real victims in the back of the creators’ minds.