One of the biggest components in a well-done examination of true crime and horrors of the world is the voice of the victims and their families, but with Dahmer, Netflix has tossed that aside for the profit from their pain. Exploitation is "use or manipulates to one's advantage," and it greatly relates to the upsetting success of the limited series. The many victims of Jeffrey Dahmer have become the next big casting list for Hollywood, not letting go of the pain caused and instead relishing in the attention it brings to a screen.
For me, examination and investigation of true crime is truly a balancing act. There are plenty of shows out now and those in the past that have dealt with death and assault as if it were a ghost story to reenact rather than what it is. The Dahmer series can't simply put in the perspective of his neighbors in that apartment building and assume that their hands are clean. Sooner or later, the reality of victims' families reliving the trauma and seeing themselves on screen catches up to those behind this kind of media as it has with Netflix. There are no funds being given to families from the profit made, and yet their anguish is streamed for all to see. Imagine reliving your traumatic moments through an actor showcasing them on screen and without the care to consult you.
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Ryan Murphy has had plenty of success in horror with some killers lightly based on real crimes in American Horror Story and other creations he has been a part of, such as Pose with better queer people of color representation. The multiple memes on platforms such as TikTok with Evan Peters dancing or turning on the VHS player in his portrayal of Dahmer have continued to hurt online environments meant to connect communities. You can find Peters to be attractive, and I'll be honest, I've loved him in plenty of roles (my childhood consisted of the film Sleepover), but you can also rightfully be disappointed in him accepting this specific role. Just because a queer man like Murphy is behind a series, it doesn't make it okay.
Netflix has plenty of creative projects to explore and promote. They've got a series actively attempting to solve cold cases and promote the words of families in things like Unsolved Mysteries in order to obtain justice. Dahmer is a pathetic excuse for a limited series. Stylized edits on TikTok and YouTube, threads of thirsting over Peter's portrayal of Dahmer, and more continues to be an example that a big side of the true crime community (of which I've found myself) lacks basic empathy. I admit it, I watched the first episode and attempted the second one but found myself feeling physically and emotionally sick. I already have created hurt by watching that much of it, and for that, I deeply apologize to families and victims for that.
Replying to @pooperscoopertrooper just type "I don't give a damn about traumatized families or POC victims and" next time and save us all some trouble 🙄
Rita Isbell wrote about learning about her trauma being played out on Netflix with the Dahmer series. Instead of watching the series, read her words. Take a moment to listen to her story and the pain this series has caused. I won't end this piece by continuing to reinforce how upsetting and horrific the popularity has become for the series. Instead, below will be a list of resources (ones local to areas like Milwaukee, WI, and nationally) helping queer people of color and reinforcing the standards of acceptance we need more now than ever after Dahmer.