Society’s true crime obsession contains ethical questions about the genre’s exploitive nature and biases
MONDAY on "The Source" — True crime is the most popular genre for podcasts — a staple for documentaries and the backbone of broadcast news. However, does the obsession with crime stories distort reality and highlight another instance of racial bias?
In September of this year, Netflix released a limited series about serial killer Jeffery Dahmer. “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” was met with success and great excitement from the public, but also scorn from the victims' families. Many of the victims' families spoke out and said that they were retraumatized.
Netflix’s limited series about the infamous serial killer is just one example of a true crime series that exploits families of the victims and victims themselves for profit while glorifying those who commit horrific acts.
Often, true crime media gives those who follow it insight into the anxieties and values of our culture. True crime along with horror media provides a safe space for fans to explore the darker sides of humanity, and play out the desire to solve puzzles and mysteries.
Is there an ethical way to consume true crime media? What struggles do the families of the victims face when their story becomes entertainment? What is the fascination with serial killers?
Why are women in particular drawn to the genre, especially when the victims of these horrendous acts are women and people from marginalized communities? Is there a clear bias represented in true crime media?
- Aja Romano, culture reporter for Vox
- Erica Hernandez, courthouse reporter for KSAT 12, and co-host of the “South Texas Crime Stories” podcast
Danielle Slakoff, Ph.D., assistant professor of Criminal Justice at Sacramento State University
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*This interview will be recorded on Monday, October 31