The true crime industry that exploded in the years after Serial, the podcast that became a cultural phenomenon in 2014, is inherently exploitative — even if the work in question has a supposedly noble mission.
Anyone who consumes true-crime podcasts, films, or television series, whether documentary or fictional, must make calculations as to whether the broader search for truth, redemption, or cultural inquiry justifies the inherently charged aspect of retelling harrowing stories. And sometimes the question arises as to whether such justification stands, as in the case of Ryan Murphy’s new Netflix series. Dahmer – Monsters: The Story of Jeffrey Dahmer.
Murphy’s stated goal in retelling the story of the Milwaukee serial killer who confessed to murdering and dismembering 17 young men is to shed light on who his victims were as individuals and the fact that they were primarily black and gay . The show also stars Glenda Cleveland, the black neighbor (played by Niecy Nash), who repeatedly called the police but was ignored over the stench and disturbing noises coming from her neighbor Jeffrey Dahmer’s (Evan Peters) apartment.
The 10-episode limited series follows several film attempts to tell the story of Dahmer from the 2002 horror film dahmerwith Jeremy Renner, on the 2017 drama My friend Dahmerwhich is based on a graphic novel by Dahmer’s high school classmate Derf Backderf and stars Ross Lynch (from Disney’s Austin & allies) in the title role. This series, in particular, is one of the few about the killer that aims to keep the focus on his victims, though it ultimately falls short.
Dahmer – monster sets the tone as Cleveland weeps while watching a news report about a black man who was killed by police after they pulled him over for an alleged traffic violation while he was working undercover. The remainder of the episode focuses on Tracy Edwards (Shaun J Brown), the Dahmer victim, who was able to fend off his attacker, leading to Dahmer’s arrest.
But even when Dahmer is handcuffed and led away – with a distraught Tracy wishing he would face death for his heinous acts – the series soon descends into gruesome shock value. As police question Dahmer’s father and describe the horrifying discoveries they made at his son’s apartment, the series features a severed head found in Dahmer’s refrigerator and a human heart hidden in a freezer.
Critics and viewers are divided Dahmer – monsterwhich has a 50 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where several reviews mention Murphy & Co’s attempts to tell the stories of Dahmer’s victims and how those stories are too often overshadowed by the killer’s actions.
Relatives of at least one of Dahmer’s victims have spoken out. Rita Isbell, a sister of Errol Lindsey, who died in 1991, spoke insider about the series, which recreates the emotional moment Isbell punched Dahmer in a courtroom. “When I saw part of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself,” she said. Despite the criticism around Dahmer – monsterviewers are still tuning in – the show is listed as the #1 TV series on the streamer.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/gruesome-acts-of-killers-like-jeffrey-dahmer-often-overshadow-their-victims-in-the-true-crime-cottage-industry-42028197.html The horrific acts of killers like Jeffrey Dahmer often overshadow their victims in the true crime industry