Interest in Serial Killers Has Increased Exponentially

Julles Marquez, Features Editor

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There’s a grisly appeal to true crime that has seized the attention of many adolescents.

From the pervasion of true crime books depicting gruesome stories about murder, to documentaries discussing the brutal details of crimes, people have become riveted by it all and have dedicated their time into feeding their interest habitually.

I have heard adults often express their concerns for teens and young children, saying that they shouldn’t be exposed to such brutal occurrences early on. That our minds have been infected with enough depravity and that we mustn’t feed our hunger for something so grim. Oh, the horror.  

The thing is, everyone has an interest or fascination with something that, from a critical interpretation, can seem rather uncanny and outlandish. A perfect example of this is serial killers. People fear that such “obsessions” with the macabre will drive people’s deluded reveries and encourage them to emulate those violent crimes.

However, I must argue the validity of liking serial killers and why the subject matter is a popular topic that people have invested quite a lot of time into. Coming from someone who enjoys immersing themselves in the world of true crime regularly, there’s so much that must be understood and evaluated in order to reach a better understanding of it all.

We humans have this desire to learn as much as we can about something that we’re curious about and want the answer to. Whether it be a complex mathematical formula, or the reasonings for the Cold War, our minds are constantly absorbing information that could lead us one step closer to an answer that will reveal the truth.

“Our brains are hardwired to make things make sense,” AP psychology teacher Stephanie Rossi said. “The behavior of a serial killer is an anomaly. Since we don’t witness people harming others, our minds want to make sense of it.” Essentially, Rossi explains that our minds, by instinct, feel inclined to dissect the nature of a crime and, in general, have a morbid fascination with the grotesque. When we are exposed to something that is unconventional or deviates from normality, curiosity strikes and fascination ensues.

That is, generally, the cause for the fascination in serial killers. The part that many people still want an answer to is, to what extent has a fascination with serial killers gone too far? How can signs of obsession and unruly idolization be measured and stopped before detriment is inflicted on people?

Simply put, Rossi said, “Fascination has gone too far when someone begins to replicate what the killer does. Any form of initial harm is over the line.” I would have to concur. I believe that once someone mimics the behavior of a killer and their horrific propensities, one’s fascination has turned into something unhealthy, something concerning, and something obsessive. It’s okay to feel empathy, but idolizing who they were and what they did is extremely problematic.

I find the assertion that TV contributing to violent and aggressive behavior has no correlation. Serial killers and how they were conditioned as children is what shapes them, not what types of shows they watched. Television “promoting” violence and/or showing the nefariousness of a killer has no effect on the cognitive maturation of an individual. Coddling teens and children from the harsh realities of the world is what will affect them more long-term in the future.

All in all, I think that being fascinated by serial killers is completely valid. Many people formulate their careers off of the study of criminology and have caught several criminals. I think this sort of interest should be more widely accepted by society in its totality, and that the stigma around true crime exposure should be removed. Although stories revolving around true crime and serial killers can be emotionally difficult to endure and understand, we must become more cognizant of the reality that we are living in. Without this pursuit of knowledge, we would be more unaware, more clueless, and more vulnerable to ignorance.