Many teenagers and young adults are terrified of getting flu shots and bleeding from their paper cuts, but when it comes to witnessing a serial killer melt the bones of victims in acid, teenagers are seemingly fine. Nausea and gag reflex apparently dissipate the moment Netflix opens, and the ruggedly handsome Evan Peters appears as Dahmer — a less handsome cannibal. Who would've thought that a docu-series detailing the horrific killings of 17 people would be so binge-worthy? Well, Netflix sure did: a total of 701.37 million hours of Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story have been streamed since its release on September 21st. The sick lives of psychos are oddly fascinating and surprisingly relatable.
For those who aren’t privy to the world of serial killers, Jeffrey Dahmer is widely regarded as an individual who committed horrific, unthinkable crimes. Born in 1960, Dahmer was brought into a household run by two neglectful parents; his mother suffered from depression and attempted suicide multiple times, while his father was largely absent as a response. The ten-episode series walks the audience through his disheartening childhood as Dahmer learns that loved ones aren’t always reliable. His main reason for killing and consuming his victims? He was frightened that they would leave him just as his parents had.
Over the course of high school, Dahmer was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, schizotypal personality disorder, and psychotic disorder. He exhibited intense interest in nothing but taxidermy, dead animals, and other queer boys. He was also characterized as an outcast who often enjoyed chugging a bottle of scotch and other alcohol in his morning history class. Not to scare anyone, but if a classmate starts showing pictures of murdered dogs (with a scent of Budweiser on his breath), please contact an East faculty member.
Now, one might inquire as to why it is acceptable to compare Dahmer to any other living (or dead) individual. Any true crime enthusiast knows that all criminals have a motive for their crimes, no matter the scale. The docu-series seems to re-humanize Dahmer as not only a neglected boy but a man who carried generational trauma and fear of loss. Despite being aware of the heartbreak Dahmer put dozens of families through, viewers have responded with a resounding sigh. A cannibalistic serial killer is not the ideal candidate to receive loads of sympathy, although Dahmer is stirring up just that. Now, why would a high schooler care about Dahmer's impacts on the average Joe? What are those impacts? What are some lessons to be learned? First off, sympathy is not as simple as one might assume — it can be found in the depths of hate. Next time there is juicy gossip circling, maybe take a step back and re-examine all perspectives. However, don’t forget that crimes like murder (hopefully not an issue at East) are never justified. Second, if worries about a loved one leaving appear, remember that murder will not keep them close. Show your appreciation and dedication to their presence without “pulling a Dahmer.” And third, please don’t eat others.