Is true crime problematic?



Gracie Thrush

Staff Reporter

After a quick glance at the top titles of Netflix, HBO Max and Amazon Prime, it’s evident that America is obsessed with the true crime genre. Apparently, what’s called entertainment in 2021 is the violent murder of innocent victims and the glorification of psychopaths. The industry goes to great lengths to gather information on the lives of killers and their victims, which results in the exploitation of people’s personal information.

According to The Post, after listening to a podcast or watching a true crime show, many people find themselves wanting to know more details about the case. However, many avid followers go too far, intruding on the lives of grieving loved ones or even damaging criminal investigations.

Many fans do not realize that what they see on their screen is not a horror movie; it is the ending of someone’s life. The families of the victims of these horrendous crimes are traumatized, and the trauma is worsened when true crime shows appear as a suggestion on Netflix.

According to Crime Reads, constantly seeing a lost family member on a news channel is already difficult for families of the victims; seeing them as the center of attention in a Netflix series is a whole new category of privacy invasion. 

Furthermore, most true crime shows do not even focus on the victim; they focus on the killer. The majority of the time, family members of victims find it extremely disrespectful that crime shows use the death of a loved one as background information for the story of a serial killer, according to Crime Reads. 

According to the Cleveland Clinic, the true crime genre can make people paranoid, anxious or depressed. When devoted listeners become too fearful that they will be someone’s next victim, some may never leave the house. 

Cases of true crime should remain with the police and courts instead of being analyzed through headphones across the country. The genre of true crime is problematic because it invades the privacy of victims and their families.

Quinn McDermott

Staff Reporter

Ted Bundy. Jeffrey Dahmer. Richard Ramirez. John Wayne Gacy. Each one of these infamous serial killers have been the subject of a gory TV series or a movie based on the horrific acts they committed. Nowadays, there is an increased fascination with the true crime genre, which examines real crimes such as murders, serial killings and more. True crime shows can teach people to think critically and can help investigators in current cases.

According to Associate Professor of Psychology at Illinois Wesleyan University Amanda Vicary, people’s interest in the true crime genre is related to survival and self-preservation. These shows give their viewers further insight into the common characteristics and red flags of a killer. Teaching people to spot particular social cues may mean the difference between life and death.

True crime films are usually based on cases that deal with unusual, unpredictable criminals. For example, before Ted Bundy was caught by the police, there was hysteria surrounding the series of murders he committed. The true crime genre can stop situations like these, because it can point out common characteristics of these criminals so people can notice the warning signs someone may present. 

Knowledge gained from these shows allows people to feel more secure because it helps them understand how a person could commit such a horrific act. According to psychologist Meg Arroll, people feel more in control of their lives if they can understand the motivation and the backstory behind the crime. 

Some may argue that the true crime genre is invasive to victims’ families and creates negative media attention; however, if done right, people’s interest in the genre can have a positive impact on victims’ families. For example, films portraying particular murders can spread awareness for charities that victims’ families might have started in their name.

By investing oneself in the genre, people can pick up certain survival skills that make them more aware of the world around them and possibly avoid dangerous situations. 

Freshman Henry Pitts

“No. They are educational in case you find yourself in a similar situation to that of the victim.”

Sophomore Maddy Michaels

“No. I think true crime can be informational, and also it makes me aware of my surroundings.”

Junior Doug Denby

“Yes. True crime television and podcasts invade people’s privacy, especially victims’ families, for a profit.” 

Senior Lina Ordoñez Aguiar

“Yes. Sometimes the listeners of true crime podcasts take it too far, and they contact the people involved in the case.”

Spanish teacher Lauren Robbins

 “Yes.  It can draw attention to problematic situations, and it can exploit victims who don’t want to be in the limelight.”