The contemporary issue that I chose was how the media has portrayed serial killers and how the people of the world have reacted to the media’s portraying. The first American serial killers were the Harp Brothers, which had started their spree in 1775. Not a lot of media was around at that time, and the media really didn’t start portraying serial killers until the 1970’s. Since then, the media has really exploited the way serial killers act and what kind of actions that they take place in.
Media is said to have boosted the fears in human beings when it comes to serial killers. The estimates of victims are made from 3,500 to 5,000 deaths a year. The sooner or later scar the public to great lengths. From looking at the evidence, it was noted that a usual serial killer would take about six lives a year. This number forms about 240 deaths a year in total throughout this country, resulting in about 1% of all murders. To some of the public, this may seem like “good news.” In ways, many people feel that the media is at fault for the rampage that serial killers have put on the society of humans. One thing that experts believe serial killers thrive on is getting attention, because they feel that most serial killers are children that were ignored during their childhood.
They are typically ignored in life, so when they do commit a string of deviant acts, they want to get caught so they finally receive the attention that they thrive on.
The media goes out of their way to give serial killers the attention they want, and to terrify the public. People go out of their way to pay 7 dollars for a movie, which shows the ways serial killers, live their lives and torture their victims. While people consider their jobs a career, serial killers consider killing a successful achievement in their field. When they reach the pinnacle of success in their field, they consider it a successful doing. Serial Killers get the glorification by resulting the attention they get into more killings. Serial killers have greatly profited off of movies/TV shows made about them.
Below are some basic characteristics that the media has given serial killers:
- Male Sexual Violence
- Set in white neighborhoods/suburbia
- Emphasizes anticipation, suspense
- Shows mostly female victims
- Detective actively pursue leads (over-glamorizes pursuit of chase)
There also have been movies and documentaries about serial killers, and what they are about. Movies such as “Silence of the Lambs,” “Seven,” and Copycat seem to fascinate the public instead of repulse and horrify them, which is what serial killers thrive on.
The general public is a big thing to serial killers, and the way they act towards them really give the killer their passion and desire. Most of all, serial killers have a big effect on children, and how they are told to and how they live their life’s. The media says that most serial killers are brought up, knowing about what is going on in the world. The media makes serial killers into immoral murderers, through TV, movies, magazines and other media ways. (Portray killers as “idols.”) There have also been serial killer trading cards, with criminals like Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson, and they have been published for $10 per pack. Lastly, comic books and clothing are big things that impact children about serial killers. They are read and worn with false sense of pride, mocking and trivialize the memory of each slain victim.
The American public may also be so fascinated with serial killer, murder, and violence because the federal government no longer holds public executions, so we instead rely on horror films, and fantastic media reports. The one thing that stifles me about serial killers, is that some women even send love letters to them, letting them know that they want to date that particular serial killer, and get to know him better. HBO had a show that was called “Life of a Serial Killer,” and it showed some of the past crimes committed by these individuals, and how some women are obsessed with them. Television channels like Court TV also contribute to how the human eye sees serial killers. Serial Killers see the attention they’re getting on television and through the media. Most serial killers have that mindset that they want to get caught so then they will get that childhood attention that they never received as a child.
There have been many cases against the media for portraying serial killers the way they have portrayed them, but the biggest one was with the movie, “Natural Born Killers.” A teen couple had watched the movie, and then decided to imitate the actions that took place in the movie. It resulted in the two shooting and paralyzing a store clerk is Louisiana, and killing a cotton gin manager in Mississippi. Both the defense and plaintiffs in this case felt that the media was at fault, for producing such a movie. It is also known that there have been more 100 copycat homicides that have been linked to this movie, since it’s release in 1994.
The media does have negatives towards it about serial killers, but they can also help the investigators and police find these sick and evil individuals. When the police send out a picture and information about the suspect, the media releases that to the natural public. While doing that, this lets everyone that is interested know about this such person, and the history behind him or her. The media also gets on the public’s good side, by doing such a thing, in order to help the investigators and agents catch the serial killer.
The bad thing is if the agents and investigators don’t catch this individual. The media then continues to release certain things and new information about this person, which results in the general public knowing more, and becoming more frightened. By this happening, the public then begins and continues to blame the media for such doings. There have also said to been complaints sent in to newspapers, news stations, magazine companies, and other media sources. Parent’s feel that the media frightens their children by making serial killers sound like an American idol to the people of the United States.
The media is also responsible for giving names to the serial killer body. Such names as the Boston Strangler, The Zodiac Killer, The Squid-Dicked Slayer are all names that the media is responsible for giving the serial killer. The name is something that the public wants to hear, and it is supposed to get the public worked up, over this individual. Then, they will need a calling card, which is something that the media, the public, and the investigators will be looking for to link a certain someone to the crime scene.
Now, as you can see in my report, the media has portrayed serial killers as Super Villains, but they have also helped the general public and investigators find these individuals. But, I just have one last thing and question to ask…Why is the media allowed to report this kind of stuff?