Our obsession with True Crime

Murderers, rapists, and paedophiles are initially introduced to us as a concept of fiction, something written about in books and plays – a terrifying figment of the imagination. So, when we are introduced to them in True Crime documentaries, films and television series it is hard to comprehend the reality of these criminals’ actions.

The popularity of True Crime has risen dramatically of late. Making a Murderer has been on Netflix for quite a few years now, and until recently I had never taken the time to watch it. But after watching The Ted Bundy Tapes, Abducted in Plain Sight and Dirty John, I simply cannot get enough of True Crime.

Names like Ted Bundy and Robert ‘B’ Berchtold had never been on my radar. After watching these documentaries, it is hard to comprehend the lengths that some will go to in order to gratify themselves. Necrophilia and paedophilia have always been something that nobody really understood, I was introduced to the terms during games of Cards Against Humanity, so they were nothing more than a joke. But the True Crime dramas that I have watched in the last few weeks are both disturbing and enlightening. My pick has to be the Ted Bundy Tapes. I was shocked that a man could kill so many people and that he was only caught when pulled over by the police for reckless driving. Bundy’s charisma and charm won a alarming amount of the public over for the majority of his trial. His ability to deceive and manipulate the law enforcement agencies in America during the 1970-80s is second to none as he was able to escape from custody not once, but twice.

There has been a lot of controversy regarding Ted Bundy and the film starring Zac Efron. I heard of the film mid-way through watching the Netflix documentary and immediately saw the resemblance between Efron and Bundy. The main issue however is that many people find Efron attractive and charming; these feelings are not acceptable to associate with serial killers. There is certainly a concern that True Crime romanticises serial killers. However, the main reason that Bundy was able to get away with the crimes he committed was because he was charming.

Even after escaping from prison to kill again, commit necrophilia and paedophilia, he was still capable of being admired. The fact that after his convictions, Carole Ann Boone married Bundy and had a daughter with him is something that astounds me. The relationship between them makes me incredibly uneasy. It is hard to know if the relationship was something to make the media favour Bundy: he proposed to her whilst on trial and they conceived a child whilst he was in prison. However, surely Boone must have loved Bundy deeply in order to face the public backlash to their relationship. The existence of such a relationship proves the extent of Bundy’s charm, for without it I doubt he would have found someone with such devotion as Carole Ann Boone.

Abducted in Plain Sight is another of Netflix’s latest True Crime offerings, focusing on the multiple kidnaps of Jan Broberg. Berchtold was involved sexually with both of Broberg’s parents, as well as Broberg herself (who was only a child at the time). The multiple sexual relationships involved in this True Crime documentary has led to an uproar on the internet, especially in regard to the creation of memes. The lack of consideration of the Broberg family and their ordeal is concerning. But perhaps this is why True Crime is so fascinating, because these crimes are so outrageous and troubling.

The actions of both Bundy and Berchtold are so far beyond societal norms that the public cannot help but be fascinated with these stories. The fact that these men were both capable and able to commit such horrific crimes is mind-blowing and frightening. We cannot help but binge watch True Crime shows, being entertained whilst simultaneously being horrified.

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Jess Barrett

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November 2021
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