Home Opinion Opinion: True crime leaves harmful impressions on society

Opinion: True crime leaves harmful impressions on society

Ominous music plays as blurry surveillance footage shows a cloaked figure running through a parking lot. Suddenly, the scene is enhanced by blood spatters and screams. Then, a narrator appears to recount the tragic events that just occurred.

True crime is extremely popular. According to a study by YouGovAmerica, half of Americans enjoy true crime media, with 13% reporting that it is their favorite genre. Take a look at the most popular podcasts or Netflix documentaries if these statistics seem preposterous.

Humankind has the intrinsic quality of “morbid curiosity” — an interest in unpleasant things. It’s natural to be unable to look away when witnessing a car crash and to pause when a roommate is watching a murder documentary in the living room.

Though it is natural, it’s harmful to consume true crime regularly. Psychologist Chivonna Childs shared some symptoms that those who watched too much true crime experienced: being fearful all the time, feeling unsafe at home and being overly suspicious of others.

“I do enjoy true crime, but I don’t find it particularly mood-lifting,” said Miriam Chacon, a junior majoring in marriage and family studies.

True crime and women

According to a study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science, true crime is more popular with women than with men. For example, YouTubers Danielle Kirsty and Bailey Sarian have made a brand by narrating their makeup videos with spine-tingling true crime stories.

“Essentially, women, more so than men, would have something to gain from (consuming true crime), especially when the story features female victims,” the study said. “Our findings that women were drawn to stories that contained fitness-relevant information make sense in light of research that shows that women fear becoming the victim of a crime more so than do men.”

Despite the popularity, women need to be more careful than their male counterparts when it comes to their true crime intake. Hearing stories of woe and violence constantly, especially when it’s easy to empathize with the victims, wears down on the psyche. According to the Mental Health Foundation

“I feel like true crime makes you less empathetic,” said Nicole Cherpeski, a freshman studying psychology. “When you are so constantly bombarded by violent images on TV, it starts to dull the effects of real life. It often makes me lose sight of the light of Christ that everyone has.”

Glorifying criminals

Many producers choose high-profile actors to play criminals in their true crime pieces. This is understandable, as this will create “buzz” around the upcoming series, which is important for its success. Though their motivation is profit, the public has a way of construing and glamorizing the criminals.

For example, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story received for its casting of Evan Peters as Dahmer, given his status as a teen heartthrob from the light-hearted horror series criticismAmerican Horror Story. TikTok has taken off with making edits of the actor portraying Dahmer.

The casting of High School Musical star Zac Efron as serial rapist and murderer Ted Bundy was also criticized. Some thought that Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile — the Netflix movie Efron was cast in — gave Bundy more grace than he deserved.

The series focused on Bundy’s public face, or how he chose to present himself, rather than making him out to be a monster. The camera would zoom in on moments where the killer was sympathetic or charismatic, rather than portraying his evil, brutal side.

Casting good-looking and well-liked celebrities to play serial killers is a dangerous decision. Of course, people should have the freedom to play whomever they want, but the general public will bring its preconceived opinions about those actors into any viewing of their work.

True crime, with the subsequent glorifying of criminals, carries the danger of inspiring copycat crimes. According to , a “copycat crime” is defined as a crime that “is believed to have been influenced by another, often famous, crime because it is so similar.”Cambridge Dictionary

According to Psychology Today, at least 74 plots or attacks have been inspired by the Columbine High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999.

Dr. Raymond B. Surette, a professor at the University of Central Florida, had 574 inmates do a survey

These are just some of the reasons why true crime is harmful. Consider reassessing the root of why enjoyment is attained through true crime. Consider limiting the consumption of true crime, or stopping it altogether, to benefit mental health.

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