Netflix Profits Off Of Re-Traumatizing Victims

Netflix Profits Off Of Re-Traumatizing Victims

Lexi Cunningham, Staff Reporter

In case you’ve been living under a rock, there has been a new adaptation of the Jeffrey Dahmer story that has hit Netflix recently. The limited series, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, stars Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer. The show was produced by Ryan Murphy, an American television writer best known for producing the hit shows Glee and American Horror Story. This series does not pull punches or shy away from the grisly and repulsive story of Jeffrey Dahmer and his crimes. However, there has been much pushback from people after the show’s release. Let’s face it, this is not the first piece of media that has been dedicated to Jeffrey Dahmer in recent years, but this one has, by far, one of the loudest negative responses.

After watching the trailer for the series, I decided that I did not want to watch it in its entirety. I, like many of the intended target demographic for the show, already knew about the case of Jeffrey Dahmer. I quickly had people in my ear recommending the show to me, instead of telling me how shocked they were and how horrifying the show is. They recommended it to me because it was “fascinating” and that Evan Peters played Dahmer “well.” On the other hand, I had others stating that they were disturbed by the show, but not because of the content, because of the tag that Netflix decided to slap onto the description of the show. Many individuals were quick to point out the “LQBTQ+” tag on the series. In poor taste on behalf of Netflix, the tag placed the series next to popular LQBTQ+ shows such as “Heartstopper” and “Sex Education”, two series on the platform which provide positive representation. Netflix has since removed the tag, but it took many vocal individuals across many social media platforms before the tag was removed.

Furthermore, many people expressed how the show seems to paint Dahmer somewhat sympathetically, almost humanizing him in a way. While I was shocked by this, I was more appalled that Netflix never contacted the victims’ families to let them know that this series was being created. Rita Isbell, the sister of Errol Lindsey, a victim of Dahmer, gave a heartbreaking victim impact statement at Jeffrey Dahmer’s trial in 1992. In Monster, there was an near-exact reenactment of her courtroom statement, down to the clothing, verbatim dialogue, and emotions.

Isbell has come forward since the show’s release and has stated that the show bothered her. The court appearance that was reenacted and dramatized brought back all of her trauma during that time. Netflix never “contacted” Isbell or any other family members about the show either. In a public statement she expresses her pain, “I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it…” and she went on to say that she felt sad that, “Netflix is just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.”

True crime always involves a perpetrator, a victim, and someone ready to tell the story for clicks, views, and followers. This is not a new type of media that many people like to consume, but this is an opportunity to start a dialogue in realizing that some stories need to be left for rest and that victims have families that will be retraumatized just for online creators, producers, directors, and actors to make money. At the end of the day, the more “gory” and intense a case may be, the more infamy many of these killers gain, whether they are dead or alive – and the victims’ families are stuck reeling in grief, many years later.