The Controversy Of Netflix’s ’DAHMER’

Devin David, A&E Editor

Jeffery Dahmer is played by American Horror Story actor Evan Peters (Netflix)

On Sep. 21 2022, Netflix released the highly controversial show, ‘DAHMER: Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’ which received a variety of responses.  The show has become Netflix’s second most grossing original series with around 824,150,000 streamed hours within 28 days. According to multiple news articles, including Times Magazine, the show has affected past victims of the serial killer who is once again  the center of attention Cousin to Errol Lindsey (one of the 17 victims), Eric Perry, stated on twitter, “I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family was pissed about this show. It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

In a discussion with social studies teacher, James Plaza, about the show, he stated “you can learn a lot from studying these people like Jeffrey Dahmer, and trying to figure out why they did the things that they did. But at the same time, you’re also bringing up that trauma that the victims are facing. Personally I think if it’s done well, it’s beneficial. Think of the things that behavioral sciences have learned from studying serial killers and studying the behaviors that these people have done.” Plaza further explains that there is a hard decision to make for the great or good of society whether to produce something that depicts every detail of a true crime such as the Dahmer events. “What if I was in that position of a family member who was involved in a situation like that? Would I feel differently? I don’t know. But if you’re asking me my opinion, right now, I would say for the purposes of understanding why these people do what they do, and hopefully preventing it in the future, I think it’s worth it.”

An anonymous student from Central stated that the show brings light to the wrong doings that our police and enforcement systems committed during this situation when asked on a survey if bringing up past traumas was worth the risk of harm to victims. “Without their consent I do not believe it’s entirely fair. However if we look at the police force and the biases and mistakes that were made it’s extremely Important to show the public what needs/needed to to change.”

Times Magazine also pointed out how the show was listed under LGBTQ+ representations, as if this type of behavior is representative of the community. This act angered and triggered many to write on twitter, one response stating, “If I need to stay in my lane absolutely tell me but anyone else think it’s pretty gross of @netflix to list Dahmer under #LGBTQ, especially when the True Crime tag would have worked?”

Another risk of portraying serial killers in the media takes  the chance to be taken as glorification. As Plaza stated, there are many shows and movies that depict traumatic events and use bigger subjects, one being ‘13 reasons why.’ “There was a lot of conversation around that show aboutl, is this making suicide seem like a right choice? I think there has to be a wider discussion around [heavy subjects] to prevent it from becoming a glorification of Jeffrey Dahmer making this guy this almost folk hero type of Persona.” He continues to explain that the risk of making a show like this might entice people to copy Dahmer or other horrific killers because of the attention they get committing these crimes.   This could be seen in mass shooters or “copycat killers” as Plaza stated.

A new disgusting phenomenon of Dahmer costumes that people are purchasing for Halloween is another negative effect of the popularity of the show, tying back to the glorification and attention. The impact that a killer holds on people doesn’t just affect the victims, it affects the general public as well. Even when writing this story, there were many who didn’t want to talk about the subject or simply deleted emails once they saw the name “Jeffery Dahmer.” As Plaza said,  “when you’re touching on such a difficult, heavy emotional subject, and you’re covering someone who’s so controversial and it’s such terrible things like the education piece, it has to be part of it. Like I said earlier, you can’t just throw this show out there with no context and check out this story. I think for a lot of people then you’re struggling to see the divide between reality and fiction or what they might perceive as being just this crazy Hollywood show or whatever it might be.”

Plaza concluded that there must be research done after consuming this type of subject. There is a fine line between the dramatization of Hollywood and actual horrific events. This show provides a conversation to help people understand the psychology behind serial killers and the effects on the victims. This Netflix film has impacted today’s society one way or another.