Awed by the Odd


Fatima Qureshi, Opinions Editor

Why are people so fascinated by the ugly? Is it purely human nature to be curious about the taboo? These questions stem from the fact that the new series Dahmer-Monster is dominating Netflix’s charts. A few weeks ago, this docuseries held the second spot in the top series category. 

The show goes through the crimes of Jeffrey Dahmer, who murdered and subsequently ate the bodies of the 17 men and boys he killed between 1978 and 1991. Most of these victims were people of color. 

The ratings of this show are a testament to people’s interest in the bizarre. In fact, most serial killer documentaries embody this phenomena. 

It seems to me that we are putting serial killers on a high pedestal, giving them unnecessary notoriety. Most of us recognize that killers should not be admired, yet this notion seems to dissipate as we continue consuming true crime media. 

It’s easy to become so enthralled with a villain that we forget to remember and console the victim’s families. This show emulated this same theory since it more or less glossed over commemorating the victim’s value; rather, it resurfaced the trauma the families faced.

The show seemed to avoid redeeming and giving honor to the victims; rather, it focused on the gory details: femurs, torsos, and grotesque pictures were prioritized; skulls were shown in a file cabinet.

This curiosity with the grotesque ties into evolution. Before the advancement of society, avoiding potential predators was key to surviving the night. If we pay attention to the predators and find out what motivates them, this knowledge can be used to our own advantage. This survival tactic has carried-on in our subconscious, as we remain enthralled by the inner workings of a mad man from the safety of our homes. These days, I believe the greatest threat in itself are humans and what we can do with our minds. To an extent, these shows are a way of self preservation.

Part of humanity’s endless fascination with serial killers is to understand the inner workings that led them to commit such atrocious actions. Was it their upbringing? How did they feel when they killed? How did society fail in teaching them principles? All of these questions run through our minds when watching the show through the eyes of Dahmer when he explains that he is better than John Wayne Gacy, another notorious killer, because he drugged his victims before dissecting them. 

There is a faint line between revulsion and curiosity which the audience of such shows seem to tiptoe over.