True Crime: A Fan Culture Devoid of Empathy

By Emily Kissinger //

With a rise in fascination with the true crime genre over the passing decades, there has been this false narrative of an illusive manipulator who can trap any victim he pleases. Stalking under the cover of darkness, he is ‘untouchable’. Ted Bundy, Richard Ramirez, or the Chicago Strangler, to name a few. Their crimes and psychoanalysis are all the rage within true crime circles spurring television shows, youtube series, podcasts; if you name it, it exists. Even after death, these sociopaths who reveled in violence and attention now have a morbid eternal legacy. I cannot imagine the twisted satisfaction they would have with the realization they will never be forgotten. 

As it’s most commonly known Ted Bundy would take advantage of women’s kindness by feigning an injury or disability to appear non-threatening before he attacked them. This isn’t smart, he is not suave, it’s not an impressively complicated plan that took him hours to complete in his fucked-up head. Serial killers are banking on the fact women are socialized to be empathetic and help others in need, despite any warnings about the world they may have been told. As women, we are in many ways groomed to be victims. These men always choose the path of least resistance and what will give them the quickest access to their target. The unfortunate coincidence of this, is the most easily accessed victims are women due to society seeing them as not only hysterical but replaceable. 

While the more extreme responses to their crimes fall into hero worship, the language surrounding these serial murderers is a surviving force of the harm they caused. The mythic version of a serial killer is an inescapable mastermind who evaded arrest via cunning and intelligence. When in reality their successes- a word I could not find a better replacement for despite feeling sick when using it- are due to societal failure. Police negligence, sexism, and victim-blaming are the fueling factors. Yet these men are seen as a person who lured victims in with a specific type of methodology, evading authorities with ease. Our reality is these men were nothing more than entitled, hateful, depraved individuals whose infamy relied on the existence of a system that was stacked against their victims from the get-go. 

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