Ted Bundy. Jeffrey Dahmer. John Wayne Gacy. Jack the Ripper. All famous serial killers with fascinating stories. For some reason, humans love crime stories, especially when they’re based on true events. We love to be shocked by how twisted and vile some of us can be. Like it or not, there’s a much bigger chance that you’ll read the story about the guy who murdered 30 women than the story about a corrupt government official.
When someone commits such brutal acts, we want to know why. For weeks after a major crime, who they were, where they were from and what traumatic childhood event caused them to “snap” is plastered on every major news outlet. Unfortunately, the desire to understand the “why” behind the violence often means keeping the killer in the spotlight, which is exactly what most of them want.
Recently, Netflix released a new documentary series called “The Ted Bundy Tapes.” Over the course of four hour-long episodes, journalists, investigators and friends of Bundy walk you through his life and how he sexually assaulted and murdered 30 women in seven states, including Florida, between 1974 and 1978. You see friends and family members describe him as “handsome,” “charming,” and even “kind.”
Right around when the series was released, it was revealed that Zac Efron will be playing the serial killer in the upcoming movie “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile,” a choice that has become a controversial topic.
Some say casting Efron as Bundy is a poor choice as it will encourage some to romanticize the killer. I have news for you: women have been doing that for years.
Remember Charles Manson? The cult leader who convinced his followers to kill people? After he was convicted, people would wear his face on their shirts and write letters to him. Jeffrey Dahmer received money, books and letters from hundreds of women. Chris Watts, who killed his wife, unborn baby and two daughters last year in Colorado, has also received numerous love letters as women continue to comment on how attractive they find him.
Why do we have such a hard time believing that good looking people are just as capable of grotesque crimes as the ones we deem ugly? And why do their looks give girls a free pass to glorify them while ignoring the lives that were taken by these criminals?
Maybe it’s because the villain in our children’s stories always looked evil. The bad guys looked like monsters and the good guys looked like Ken dolls. There was always a stark difference in the good and bad guys. You’d think we would be able to realize that’s not always the case as we become adults.
That’s why casting Efron as Bundy was a smart choice. Bundy was considered insanely attractive, funny, clean and brilliant. He was the guy-next-door and that’s what makes his story so terrifying.
Sheri Kotzum is a reporter for The Destin Log. She can be reached at email@example.com or 315-4353.