Jeffrey Dahmer


Em Tran

Art by Em Tran

On September 21st 2022 Netflixed released a new series, “Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.” The series depicted the real life serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, and his narrative of his murders. Dahmer was played by American Horror Story actor Evan Peters. Peters is a  generically handsome man, and people began to gawk over him online. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the actor they admired, but it was the actor as he was playing the role of a real life prolific serial killer. Video edits began to pop up on social media of the TV show where Peters acts out Dahmer consuming his victims. A trend began on TikTok where girls would “tell” Jeffrey their problems and he would “take care of it.” The internet turned a murderer into a hero.

Dahmer’s killing spree lasted from 1978 to 1991, that’s only 31 years ago. The families of the victims are very much still alive and hurting. With multiple movies, series, and even comic books about Jeffrey Dahmer, the families have begged the media to stop replaying their loved one’s deaths as entertainment for the public. Rita Isbell, sister of Errol Lindsey who was one of Dahmer’s victims, said that Netflix never contacted her or any of the family members about their depiction in the show. And with the newest addition to Jeffrey Dahmer media, comes a response from some viewers that no one could have anticipated. 

In 2019 Netflix released a movie about another serial killer, Ted Bundy. The movie had a similar directing style to “Dahmer-Monster.” In the movie, actor Zac Efron played Ted Bundy. Zac Efron is also considered a handsome man, and casting him as Ted Bundy was a stylistic choice since the reason Ted Bundy got away with what he did for so long was said to be because of his charms and looks, both of which Zac Efron has a plethora of. Though both Zac Efron and Evan Peters are generically attractive, only one actor playing a serial killer was romanticized. 

Ted Bundy spent many years residing and killing in Utah. Many of us know someone who knew Bundy or knew someone who was a victim to Bundy. This could be a reason why Bundy hasn’t been admired as Dahmer has, however there is another more plausible theory. Bundy’s victims were white straight women, Dahmer’s victims were typically gay minorities. The safe assumption is that the people online who are making these edits are likely taking Ted Bundy more seriously because his victims were white straight women who fit into society’s standards of innocent victim whereas Dahmer’s victims were villainized because they didn’t fit society’s standards of an “innocent” person. People think it’s ok to make jokes about Dahmer and his victims because they were queer, but it’s not. The jokes and media using Dahmer’s name and his sexuality extended back to the time of his trial and SNL’s weekend update, and these jokes should be stopped. 

While it is the platform’s responsibility to take these types of videos down, it’s also the responsibility of the platform’s users to report those videos and to call them out as they see them. The film industry needs to stop making profit off of people’s unfortunate deaths. The people that Jeffrey Dahmer murdered had a life, and they are their own person, not just a victim. Even though in the Dahmer series they dive a little bit into the life of Tony Hughes, a deaf aspiring model who unfortunately met and was killed by Dahmer, his story was used as a stepping stone to see more into Dahmer than to see Tony as his own person in his own life. Tony’s family has spoken publicly about the series, and it is heartbreaking. Other people should not be profiting off of Hughes’ death, especially when it’s causing direct harm to his family. The Ted Bundy movie didn’t dive into any of the victim’s personal lives and yet the public still takes his murders more seriously, meanwhile Dahmer’s name is worked into songs, his face is plastered on the internet as a “handsome rogue,” and people have even gone as far to dress as him for Halloween. A pizzeria in Texas had a “Jeffery Dahmer Special” where the pizza was displayed as having human eyes and guts. 

With all the media around him, we need to remember that Jeffrey Dahmer was a real and horrific human being. And more importantly, all of his victim’s are real, as well as their loved ones. People are still dealing with the trauma this man caused. It’s not fiction, it’s real and not something to be joked about or profited on.