Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story- a painful reminder of the past

'Monster: A Jeffrey Dahmer Story' looks deep into the life of the man himself. But at what cost?

Varsha Jayaprasad
17th October 2022
Image credit: Frank Okay - Unsplash
Content Warning: Mass murder, cannibalism.
Netflix brings out an American limited series starring Evan Peters as the infamous killer from Milwaukee, Jeffrey Dahmer. But are true crime masterpieces unnecessary retellings of traumatic memories?

From the makers of American Horror Story and GleeDahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a show that explores the life and murders of Dahmer between 1978 and 1991. Popularly known as the Milwaukee Cannibal, Dahmer had committed the murder and dismemberment of seventeen men and young boys. He engaged in cannibalistic activities with his later victims. Most of his victims were individuals of colour.

Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story portrays the life of Jeffrey Dahmer from depictions of his childhood memories to the methods of his murders. The show delves into the details of how Dahmer had adapted to the society around him and the relationships he had with the people in his life. The mind of the killer and the reason for Dahmer’s behavior and thoughts are discussed in raw and honest detail. The show illustrates the emotions and perspectives of some of Dahmer’s victims, their families, and Dahmer’s parents. 

It also has received severe backlash from various family members of the victims

Whilst the show does try to amplify the voices of those who were affected by the crimes committed by Dahmer, it also has received severe backlash from various family members of the victims. The series represents a rather dramatic description of the incidents that occurred during the time and does not provide an accurate portrayal of the events that occurred. Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsey who was one of the victims of Jeffrey Dahmer shared her views of the show with the Insider. Isbell said that she was never contacted by Netflix in regards to adapting a clip of herself onto the show. Other family members of Lindsey also exclaimed on Twitter that it was unnecessary to keep recreating the traumatic past in cinematic productions. Isbell also stated that Netflix is “just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”

Unfortunately, in an effort of invoking the emotions of the audience, this work turns into a cinematic project to tell a chilling story. Therefore, reducing the traumatic memories of many individuals into a stylistic and “well-produced” TV show. This raises the question of whether it is necessary to have the many serial killer biopics that exist to date.

Creating content comes with a responsibility towards the audience consuming it

There is a clear lack of empathy towards the affected when inaccurate cinematic adaptations of heinous killers are brought into the spotlight repeatedly.

Creating content comes with a responsibility towards the audience consuming it. It is consequential to create content that brings about change than more damage to society. Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story attempts to create an almost realistic portrayal of the crimes of Dahmer, yet in its attempt at realism it brings a disturbing recollection of unpleasant memories for many.

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AUTHOR: Varsha Jayaprasad
Hi! I'm Varsha. I am an M.A. Media and Journalism Student at Newcastle University. I enjoy writing for the courier and I wish to be a full-fledged journalist in the future

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