Column: Critiquing the criminal craze


Dorothy Lakshmanamurthy, page editor

Mindlessly scrolling through my TikTok “For You” page, I see a slow motion edit of serial killer, Ted Bundy, appear with the Britney Spears’ song, “Criminal.” The video shows Bundy, with a malicious smirk, being escorted out of the courtroom as Britney sings in the background,  “Mama I’m in love with a criminal…”

With the knowledge people know about Bundy today, it is off-putting to see someone romanticize such a psychopath. However, these edits are not just of Bundy. I have also seen TikTok edits of Richard Ramirez, the “Night Stalker,” in the courtroom with a caption that says, “I would let him murder me.” I look at the comments of this video, and I see people are commenting heart eye emojis for a man who raped and killed at least 13 people. 

 I think about what the victims’ families would think if they saw their relative’s murderer a part of a romanticizing Tiktok trend. These video edits demonstrate people being chronically online, as it distorts their sense of reality. People forget that these are real life killers that have damaged the lives of many. The video edits silence the victims and shine light on the criminal. 

Movies and TV series have prominently brought up mixed emotions amongst victims’ families. The Ted Bundy film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” glamorizes the Bundy case with an allure ambience by focusing so much on the charisma of Bundy that it drifts away from addressing his monstrous crimes. 

The recently trending “DAHMER” series does not just focus on the gruesome details of the Dahmer case. It expands more on the broader systems which failed the victims, and shows their dismissiveness toward people of color. The show does a better job to not glamorize the case. Although, just like the Ted Bundy film, directors did not make an effort to notify victims’ families.

True crime retellings need to do a better job of communicating with victims’ families before creating any sort of depiction. I do believe these retellings can be very interesting, but the directors need to be more mindful when creating them. The immorality of these killers that are being depicted, and even glorified, on large streaming services and in movie theaters only rekindles the trauma for the victims’ families. By glamorizing the killers, it is almost as if we are rewarding them for the lives they have taken.