Feel fear, not butterflies

Has cinema and television created a culture of attractive murderers?

More stories from Ryan Huling


Photo by Wikimedia Commons

Ted Bundy, subject of interest in Hollywood in recent years.

The past year has shown cinematic fascination with the serial killer Ted Bundy. With heartthrob Zac Efron starring as the murderer in “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” and Netflix’s recent release of “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” serial murder has been quite popular around the news and social media.

The man’s popularity even prompted Netflix to purchase the rights to “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” to add to their catalogue in September. However, is the glamour surrounding this chaotic man possibly extremely dangerous?

In 1960, Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” was a cinematic risk that reaped the greatest rewards. The biggest movie of his career, “Psycho” got nominated for four Oscars, grossed $32 million in the United States and is the 33rd highest ranked movie on IMDb. Needless to say, the movie has gotten a lot of attention.

The film’s premise follows an ex office worker who embezzles her employer and flees. After pulling off the highway to stay at the Bates Motel, she meets the young owner who slays her in the shower. Throughout the movie, Bates kills again and it’s revealed he’s killed two others previously.

This young owner is where Psycho becomes relevant to our topic. This man, Norman Bates, is played by Anthony Perkins who, if I might add, is an attractive man. That’s a predicament for the viewer considering he kills two people. Surely, however, the actions and personality overshadow looks and show the true ugliness of a character?

Well, not exactly. A Reddit post that inquired why girls in the franchise were so quickly attracted to him had comments such as “somehow (his charm) even worked on me” and “To be fair, Norman’s pretty good looking … which goes a long way.”

It’s also not like this was a isolated idea. Films even cater to it. “My Friend Dahmer”, released in 2017, stars former Disney Channel hot boy Ross Lynch playing a man who murders. Zac Efron and his six pack star as Ted Bundy, someone that the media labeled an “all-American boy.” Netflix’s first episode about him is even titled “Handsome Devil.”

These men do not deserve a growing “fanbase” because they have a good jawline or are portrayed in movies by a childhood celebrity crush. The media has glamourized these monsters to make a good movie or draw a crowd. Historical thrillers may be a good way to educate people about these awful men, but they should leave an audience feeling uncomfortable and disgusted, not somewhat attracted to the subject.

Huling can be reached at [email protected]