The recent Netflix documentary series “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” has created quite a bit of noise online. But probably not for the reason you think.
It shouldn’t really be surprising that even 30 years after his death, America’s most notorious serial killer is still captivating people with the same tools he used to literally get away with murder: His disarmingly “boy next door” face, voice, and manner.
It’s also not a secret that serial killers have “fans”. People write them letters in prison. Women declare their undying love and devotion, and their overwhelming desire to have sex with them. It’s really sick how twisted and perverted some people’s minds are.
Now, you’d sort of hope that in today’s internet age, where a single tweet can be heard around the world in 20 seconds, that people could show SOME level of decorum and keep their inappropriate thoughts to themselves.
I know, who am I kidding? The very definition of “internet” should be, “The place where you say whatever BS pops into your shriveled and empty little head, regardless of how absolutely moronic it is.”
So suffice it to say, I guess quite a few people took to Twitter after watching the documentary series to declare how “hot” they thought Ted Bundy was.
Yeah, let that sink in for a minute.
So many people, in fact, that the official Netflix account felt it was necessary to tweet this:
Listen, if you think that, fine, everyone is entitled to have thoughts, but please, have some decency and just keep your thoughts to yourself.
I too watched “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” recently. I have no obsession with serial killers, but research is a passion for me, and in high school, I wrote a paper on Jeffrey Dahmer for my Law class. Even when I was young, I was interested in learning about these killers because everyone, especially children, should know just how evil the world can be. Someone once said that you can’t fight an enemy that you can’t see, but that’s not entirely accurate. Better to say that you can’t fight an enemy that you don’t recognize – so I’ve tried very hard in my 32 years to make myself abundantly aware of how to recognize “the enemy” so that I can fight him even when I can’t “see” him.
The truth? I finished the documentary in absolute tears. Do you want to know why?
It obviously ended with his execution, and when I saw the people who were gathered outside of Florida State Prison, with signs and selling t-shirts that read “Burn, Bundy, Burn”, and singing and chanting and setting off fireworks, and acting like they were about to celebrate New Year’s Eve and the 4th of July all rolled into one… what else could I do but cry; cry over the fact that it wasn’t bad enough this monster killed 30 women, but now so many other people were taking pleasure in his death. Pleasure. It was no longer about justice. It was no longer about trying to right a wrong. It turned into enjoyment at the misfortune of another.
Did he need to die? Yes. Unequivocally yes. I’m not someone who is opposed to capital punishment in the right circumstance. And in my opinion, Ted Bundy was far too dangerous to even stay in jail. If you watch the footage in the documentary, you’ll see how even after he confessed to everything, people still softened towards him – people who really shouldn’t have. Dangerous.
But regardless of his crimes, no one should turn death into a spectacle to be exploited for enjoyment and entertainment. You can be glad he’s going to die, but guard your heart that you not become the very thing you’re condemning. Proverbs 24:17 says, “Do not gloat when your enemy falls; when he stumbles, do not let your heart rejoice.” It’s just not right. And watching all of the death and revelry just made me realize how terribly desperate we all are. And how flawed. And how important it is to keep control of yourself and strive to do good in all things, even if you know you’re likely going to fail.
So I’m taking a break from “true crime” programs for a little while. And I certainly had no intention of revisiting Ted Bundy’s story again any time soon. But then I was scrolling Twitter and saw an article that I simply could not just ignore.
It’s a lengthy article, but if you’re going to continue reading my post, I would strongly urge you to at the very least peruse the former first as I will be directly referencing what’s been said there.
Basically, the author of the Syfy Wire write up is trying to make the point that fantasizing about killers is okay – as long as they aren’t “real” people. She says, “fancying pop culture villains is one thing; fandoms for literal serial killers is quite another.” She talks about the phenomenon of “fans” of real-life serial killers, and even gets clinical about it all by discussing hybristophilia: “paraphilia in which an individual derives sexual arousal and pleasure from having a sexual partner who is known to have committed an outrage or crime.” (Webster’s Dictionary)
The author’s argument is based around the current online Bundy “fandom” who were using the Venom fandom to defend their fantasies about the real-life killer.
She then says this:
Okay. Now to the point of my post.
I totally and completely disagree with the author’s take on this. Whether a person/character is “real” or not, and whether or not their crimes — yes, crimes, this is important — are plausible or completely over the top, makes NO difference to the underlying problem: That people’s desire to fantasize about these monsters, and who consider them “sexy”, is perversion, plain and simple. Whether it’s actual murderer Ted Bundy, or it’s fictional murderer Hannibal Lecter (who was based on an actual murderous doctor—Alfredo Ballí Treviño—by the way)… HOW and WHY the fan is reacting to them is the very same.
For anyone who wasn’t alive or old enough in the ’70s and ’80s to have witnessed Ted Bundy’s horror story unfold, he might as well be a fictional character on a television show. He’s not “real” to them. They weren’t affected by what he did. They didn’t know him personally. Everything they know of him is being presented the same way their fictitious characters are. So let me just come out and say it: Yes, fancying Ted Bundy might as well be the same thing as fancying any evil, disgusting, murderous fictitious creature. The intent doesn’t change.
The actions of someone like Bundy are abstract to most of the world. Most people don’t have any “experience” with him or what he did. It’s all presented to them in the abstract, where their imaginations — which are encouraged to do this by the very argument presented in this article, and by every single piece of “entertainment” that glorifies rape, murder, gratuitous sex and violence, be it “plausibly” realistic or not — just run wild. They start imagining themselves in the stories of REAL people, the SAME WAY they imagine themselves getting involved with fictional ones.
The fictitious nature of something does not justify nor excuse it. Murder doesn’t suddenly become acceptable just because it’s carried out by a person who doesn’t actually exist in real life. And it certainly does not become any less heinous if the method is so over-the-top that some viewers think it couldn’t possibly happen in real life so they’re “safe” to fantasize. Rape doesn’t magically qualify as a non-criminal act simply because it’s being portrayed by two actors on a sound stage.
So I’m sorry, but to the author of the Syfy Wire piece I say: You can not use fiction as an excuse for your murderer fantasy, because at the end of the day, ALL fantasy is fictional.
And it’s exactly this idea that it’s “acceptable” to want to be f***ed by a murderer as long as he’s “fictional” that twists people and eventually leads them to believe it’s okay to want to be f***ed by REAL murderers. The idea that it’s “not the same thing” is completely W-R-O-N-G. When it comes down to brass tacks — it IS the same thing, because the person is feeling what they’re feeling and wanting what they’re wanting regardless of “fictional” vs “real”.
Think on this for a minute:
What makes people fantasize about Venom? Because he’s played by Tom Hardy… someone they think has a handsome face.
So what makes people fantasize about Ted Bundy? Isn’t it because he’s… someone they think has a handsome face?
Two murderers. Two monsters. The same fantasy. Is it really that different?
The author’s argument is flawed right from the start, because what she’s failing to admit is that she’s being shallow. What if we were talking about a different actor and a different serial killer. What if our fictional killer was instead played by Steve Buscemi, and our serial killer in question was Dennis Rader?
Do we really think that very many people are going to be publicly declaring their sexual fantasies about EITHER person, real or fictitious? Yes, unfortunately most serial killers have sad and unloved followers, attractive or not, but I just don’t think that Netflix would have been seeing the same type of publicity for anyone other than Bundy.
Why do you think they choose “good looking” actors to play murderers in these huge productions? Because it’s a sad but true fact that people are shallow, and easily manipulated by a nice looking face. The Syfy article itself proves this. Here is someone justifying murder … as long as it’s fictitious — [and is portrayed by someone who is smoking hot]. It’s fine to be a fan of a show with questionable content, but quite another thing to fantasize about its murderous characters.
Don’t even get me started on the many Syfy Wire articles lately which can’t shut up about how “hot” Jafar is in the new live-action Aladdin film.
“The Sexy Killer Fandom Wars: No, Fancying Ted Bundy is Not the Same Thing as Fancying Venom” article ends with a quote from the author of a book about Bundy. A quote that’s even more apropos than the article author realizes.
“They are grieving for a shadow man that never existed.”
You know who else never existed? Fictional characters. When you think of it that way, this kinda sounds like both “fandoms” are in the very same sinking boat after all. Sort of implies that fantasizing about things that don’t really exist isn’t all that healthy. So maybe think about that the next time someone gets skinned and crucified on “Hannibal” and all you can think about is how badly you want to hit the sheets with the killer because he’s just sooooo HOT.
Because no matter how hard anyone tries to justify it, there isn’t a face “hot” enough in all of existence — either real or fictional — to hide the fact that fantasizing about vile things like murder and rape is disgusting and perverted. Such acts are NOT acceptable in any way, shape or form, for any reason. There should be no such thing as a “sexy killer fandom”, period. Stop being so shallow. We should be repulsed not drawn to these people/characters even if they are “attractive”. If you can’t learn how to look past a pretty face, then you’ll never be able to recognize the monsters within.
And take care, because when that happens, you might find yourself as a statistical footnote in history — just another numbered victim on a documentary series in 30 years’ time.