Netflix has seriously questionable morals after releasing Jeffrey Dahmer series


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Zoe Poulis, Features Editor

The following contains sensitive topics, so please read with caution.

Netflix’s new series “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” has stirred up quite a bit of controversy, and rightfully so. If you’ve somehow managed to avoid watching the show, take that as a win, but allow me to explain a little bit about the infamous Jeffrey Dahmer and why this series is a problem. 

In 1978, when Dahmer was just 18, he committed his first murder. After this, he ended up murdering, dismembering and often eating 17 men and boys until he was arrested on July 22, 1991, when one of his potential victims escaped. Dahmer confessed to all of his crimes and was meant to serve 15 life sentences before his own life was taken by another inmate in prison. 

It’s likely that many of us had some knowledge of the Milwaukee Cannibal before, but with the release of Netflix’s series, his story has become inescapable. In fact, within the first four weeks of the release, it has already become the platform’s second-biggest English television show of all time, just behind season four of “Stranger Things.” 

The reality of it, is that there’s a huge difference between consuming this sort of content in the form of a documentary versus a television series. Whether or not either is necessary is up for debate, but a documentary serves an educational purpose, while a television series feels like entertainment. And, quite frankly, I don’t think we should find some of the most gruesome murders in history entertaining. 

The title role is played by “American Horror Story” star, Evan Peters, and although he has done an exceptional job portraying Dahmer, his large following allows for an idolization that blurs the line between him and the role. A similar ordeal occurred with the casting of Zac Efron as Ted Bundy in another Netflix film, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.” When beloved actors are cast in this way, it makes it easy for audience members to ignore the subject matter, leading to the glamorization of some of America’s most atrocious killers. 

Of course, I don’t believe the goal of the actor is to make the audience sympathize with the monster, but when the glasses Dahmer wore sell for $100,000 post-release, it makes a person wonder where society’s values truly lie. 

If all of this was not bad enough, Netflix did not take the time to inform the families of the victims about the series, as apparently, they didn’t have to because the case is public record. Many have spoken out about this, including Rita Isbell, a sister to one of the victims.

“I could even understand it if they gave some of the money to the victims’ children…. If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless. It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”

Her cousin, Eric Perry, took to Twitter to rant about the subject, writing, “It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

That’s the exact question we should be asking. Why do we feel the need to shine a spotlight on one of the most horrifying serial killers in history, yet again? No one knows the answer, but audiences should realize that it sends the wrong message. 

If you haven’t watched the series already, I would recommend keeping it that way. Giving monsters like Dahmer this kind of attention feels like a glamorization of the heinous things he has done more than anything else.