Crime in entertainment makes a killing
In recent years, our society’s deep obsession with crime and horror, shown through the cases of murderers and serial killers, has made its way into the mainstream media. Although programs such as “20/20” and “60 Minutes” have existed for quite some time, the lives of infamous criminals are now being reimagined to show the sides of the stories that the cameras never caught. When “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story” premiered in 2016, it received much fanfare as well as continued hype for the show after each episode aired. While including the well-known images and phrases from the trial, the show also showed something beyond what was shown on the news – the perspective of Simpson before and during the trial. With that, this new generation of television viewers learned about the crimes committed by Simpson, while older generations got to relive what they had previously experienced but with a fresher perspective. The major success of the show brought the new generation into this dark and curious fascination with the twisted minds of killers, and it set off a trend in showcasing some of the most infamous murders in a new light.
Two years after the premiere of “The People v. O.J.,” “The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” premiered on FX and the film “My Friend Dahmer” was released in theaters. Both were met with high praise for getting inside the minds of these criminals to show what could have pushed them over the edge. This award season, Darren Criss has won a plethora of awards for his portrayal of Andrew Cunanan in “The Assassination of Gianni Versace,” which just shows that even after all these years, we are still drawn in by these complex figures that have left such an impact on our society.
As we make our way through 2019, it is clear that this year’s dark fascination is centered around serial killer Ted Bundy. On Jan. 24, Netflix released “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” which compares Bundy’s own recollection of the events with the perspective of those who grew up with him and those that knew him personally. Only two days later, the film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” featuring Zac Efron as Bundy, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. Unlike the previous films and shows mentioned, this movie is about Bundy’s relationship with girlfriend Liz Kloepfer (Lily Collins) and her conflicted feelings for him as she is unsure what the truth is. While the movie, as well as the other features mentioned, show how the media perceived these criminals, they also show how the killer viewed themselves, what their motives may have been and how their community and loved ones were impacted. By looking through these lenses, we are reintroduced to a story that we thought we knew everything about. The history of these killers and their horrendous acts continues to unravel as the entertainment industry begins to highlight and acknowledge the different angles and sides to these stories. We can definitely expect more retellings of infamous crime stories through film and television as we continue to be captivated by the unique points of view surrounding these types of cases.