True Crime Inspires the Next Generation of Criminals

An influx in true crime viewership has become a noticeable trend amongst the U.S. population. People have become captivated with the additional layer of drama and have lost touch with criminal reality. With such provocative and relatable programs that allow for an audience to connect with criminals on a deeper level, there comes great consequences, as they have substantial influence on impressionable human minds.

The question becomes: Is the entertainment provided by such television programs truly worth allowing violent criminals to undeservingly gain the spotlight and generally desensitize people to excessive violence?

True crime has decreased people’s response to violent stimuli drastically. I witnessed this firsthand when I saw my mother watching an episode of Dateline while she was driving me home from an event. She continued to talk to me as if nothing about the program was abnormal and made nonchalant comments like, “that’s interesting. This response showed that the victim’s death was of little importance to her, and I know that she is not the only person who experienced this diminished reaction to stimuli.

To the typical true crime viewer, the dramatic side-stories have a far greater impact on the viewer than the actual death of the person. After witnessing this strange sight, it made me realize how true crime has warped people’s sense of morality and has desensitized people’s view of homicide and other revolting criminal activity. The more people watch these shows, the less the shows become about those who are lost in the tragedy and more about the dramatic thrill of knowing that these are real-life murder mysteries.

The desensitization to crime and violence is amplified when broadcasted to millions across the country. Junior Christian Prizeman carries the fear that “[his] mom has homicidal feelings toward [his] dad because of her seemingly obsessive true crime watching.” Sentiments such as Prizeman’s indicate a trend of vulnerable teenagers’ worries. Distress over household security stems from true crime viewership and its significant effects on human thinking and mass desensitization and fear.

Furthermore, the paranoia that results from these programs leads to both mistrust and excessive fear. Sophomore Refi Briskman worries that, “[she] could be in the midst of a serial killer at any time and have no idea.” Such pronounced fear that results from watching fantasy murders is not only unnecessary, but also destroys one’s sense of innocence and trust. If Briskman’s fearful sentiments are prevalent across the country, the cognitive damage and destruction of positivism will result merely from televising brutality in an enticing way.

The main issue regarding true crime television’s impact on people is the way in which it “romanticizes crime and the criminals who commit them,” according to junior Grady Conrad. The most notable example of a brutal convict receiving surprisingly positive reception from the public is the case of Jeffrey Dahmer, also known as the Milwaukee Monster. The Dahmer- Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story series on Netflix hyperbolizes criminal activity, removing the criminal world from reality. Altering the perception of true crime gives convicts like Dahmer excuses for psychotic activity and promotes a world where violence is looked upon as an enthralling piece of drama rather than the travesty it truly is. Across the country, the Dahmer series was viewed for almost 300 million hours, demonstrating a broad audience. Dahmer, rather than shunned for his brutal sexual and homicidal crimes, was revered by millions since his televised alterego, Evan Peters, is seen as attractive and desirable to a variety of captivated viewers.

Junior Cyril Russell believes that another appeal of true crime helps people escape from reality and “offers a far worse world than anything we experience.” This is a reasonable assertion as people often demonstrate a tendency to gravitate toward things that make their situation seem better. The attraction to Dahmer,” Russell explains, “is fueled by millions of people in some way finding him either [relatable] or desirable. Making murderous psychos appear sociable and engaging will prove to be a dangerous shift in the way in which savage criminal activity is viewed. Murder, in this televised world, offers excuses and undeserved attention to criminals, two elements sought by those in unfavorable life circumstances.

The new cultural shift that celebrates true crime should be more greatly scrutinized as problematic shifts in the thinking of millions across the United States become more evident. With the way that the U.S. population has responded so positively to murderous television, it’s clear that our priorities have shifted in a detrimental way. Dahmer’s Netflix success most directly clarifies the problems as sympathizers across the United States have found connections to killers that will undoubtedly prove dangerous. The increasing sympathy and romanticization that criminals receive will inspire those who consider criminal activity in the future. That is why, as a nation, it is critical that we stray from true crime and watch more lighthearted and productive television that fosters a productive and united nation, not a fragmented world of criminal fantasy.