From Zac Efron’s turn as Ted Bundy in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and VileTo the parade of serial killers prolific in Mindhunter, Netflix has tapped into America’s uneasy love affair with some of its most abominable criminals. In the streaming service’s latest true-crime dramatization, Evan Peters breathes life into Jeffrey Dahmer. This time Netflix might have gone too far.
Jeffrey Dahmer had Seventeen Victims
Jeffrey Dahmer (also known as the Milwaukee Cannibal) terrorized Eastern Wisconsin for years. In his murder spree that spanned from 1978 to 1991, Dahmer drugged, raped and killed seventeen young boys and men. But, thirty years later, his crimes still attract attention for what many argue are the wrong reasons.
Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is Ryan Murphy’s latest project for the multimillion-dollar deal he struck with Netflix in 2018. Murphy is well-known for his numerous hit TV shows, including Glee, American Horror StoryAnd Pose. In his latest project, Murphy dramatizes Dahmer’s reign of terror, with actor and longtime collaborator Evan Peters cast in the role of the infamous killer.
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Given Murphy’s history of making campy comedies, there was a bit of fear that MonsterIt would be difficult to carry the weight of such heavy subject material. However, Critics have admittedMurphy and his team made an effort to not glorify Dahmer. Murphy does his best to retell the events through the victims’ points of view, paying special attention to their families and the failings of local law enforcement.
There’s a respectable amount of attention paid to Dahmer’s typical victim profile: African American men of the LGBT+ community. However, audiences are finding that despite Murphy’s best efforts, it’s impossible to dramatize such tragic stories without inherently exploiting them.
Errol Lindsey’s Sister Speaks Out
In 1992, Rita Isbell delivered a victim impact statement in court on behalf of her brother Errol Lindsey, Dahmer’s eleventh victim. The powerful moment was broadcasted on live television, leaving the country to watch as she rushed at Dahmer from the podium, screaming at her brother’s killer, “This is out of control!”She was taken out of court by officers. In the new series, actress DaShawn Barnes reenacts Isbell’s statement word-for-word.
Isbell, despite being a singer for over 40 years, is still a household name. Protest against the series that dramatizes her brother’s murder. “When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself—when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said,”Isbell stated. “If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.”
Isbell continues: “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it. But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid. I could even understand it if they gave some of the money to the victims’ children. Not necessarily their families. I mean, I’m old. I’m very, very comfortable. But the victims have children and grandchildren. If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless.”
Stream with Caution
Isbell’s biggest problem is the wastefulness of the show. Instead of contacting the victims’ families for approval or trying to donate any of the proceeds that the series is sure to rake in, the show just serves as a greed-driven tragedy binge.
The day is over Monster isn’t controversial because it fails to highlight Dahmer’s victims’ struggles. It’s controversial because it indulges in them, putting them on display for audiences to revel in. It just goes to show that some true crime stories don’t need to be retold. Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer StoryThis could be one such story. All these years later, this dramatization offers little more than pain for the victims’ families.
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Yet, despite the controversy it caused, it’s too late: MonsterAlready a big hit. It is already a hit. Record-breaking premiere on streaming giant However, before you choose the series as your next weekend binge, it’s worth remembering that Dahmer’s victims weren’t only the young men and boys who died by his hand. Some of these victims are still alive, and they have to see America relive their trauma for entertainment.