Obsession with the awful: Our true crime addiction

Written by TV

The true crime genre has been widely popularised in recent years with sites like Netflix producing high quality documentaries, making it more accessible than ever but by all means, not brand new.

True crime has been exposed to us forever. It’s on the news, it’s in the papers. We see it everyday. Watching true crime is something many people feel guilty about enjoying but the growing obsession with the genre means viewers are now more open about it. The topic of discussion is why? Why are we drawn in by real-life murder cases and getting to know serial killers? Is this fixation normal? The answers to these questions are multifaceted but the easiest explanation is the adrenaline factor. It’s seeing something real, not a fictional horror flick. These crimes actually happened in real life and that’s the scariest part.

There is something to be said about people who get scared at fictional horror and not at true crime. Perhaps viewers feel like they have control over true crime; they become detectives from the safety of their sofas. Viewers often delve into extreme cases of crime committed by the likes of Jeffrey Dahmer, Ted Bundy and so on. These stories have become notorious. But a morbid curiosity is normal and true crime documentaries can be addictive once you start watching. You need to know what happened, who did it, if justice was served. It’s a level of interest in the human psyche that everyone has. There is a need to understand the perpetrator and their reasoning for doing what they did. What happened to them to make this horror a reality? Or rather, what didn’t happen to them? These criminals are people like you and I and you come to understand human nature on a different level once you know the lack of limitations to our capabilities.

Watching true crime is something many people feel guilty about enjoying

People keep watching it because it is a chance for us to explore this side of human nature without being too close to it, delving into the darker side of life without the threat of danger, since we’re just watching it on TV. Serial killers and criminals are capable of things beyond our imagination and many viewers find this fascinating. The increasing interest in this genre may also be because we get to know ourselves better too. We begin to understand our own nature. Some documentaries and podcasts even move away from serial killers and focus on one-time killers, showing us how one moment of anger can lead to murder, no matter who you are or what you have experienced. As with anything, there will be people out there without this interest in true crime. But for the majority, we are addicted to the adrenaline and have a desire to understand why these horrific crimes were committed.

The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix has been a recent topic of discussion, and will be followed by the upcoming film about Bundy titled Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, set for release later this year.

Last modified: 29th March 2020

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