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Selling Criminal Minds: An Unexpected Part Two 

Oh dear, we are back again. I had hoped the trend of lionising lawbreakers was dead in the water, but clearly it is not. This article is a begrudging follow up from the article I wrote in March about The Tinder Swindler and glorifying criminals as it seems to be topical… again. Netflix just broke records with its series on Jeffrey Dahmer, fictionalising a killer who targeted black gay men. If you’ll recall last time I spoke on this I pointed out that a lot of the time these criminals who get super fun documentaries made out of them have targeted minorities, and here we go with Dahmer only doubling down on that point. To bring it way closer to home, law breaking politicians, responsible for thousands of deaths now get paid to go on holiday to the jungle! Matt Hancock recently appeared on our screens every night at 9pm delivering a huge slap in the face to everyone who sat at home for a year while he groped his aide in the office that was beautifully decorated with our taxes. 

ITV has given him a platform to ‘make the public see that politicians are real people too’ (his words), which really doesn’t work in his favour, as for the entire pandemic politicians exacted completely contrary to this. They were above the law, they could drive across the country, host parties, have affairs. And unfortunately for Matt Hancock, I really don’t care about him as a person. I care that he performs the job he was paid an astounding amount to do, and that he does it well and with integrity. Which we have established he is not very good at. So now he gets to go and do goofy challenges on TV so that the public can see that in reality he’s actually a fun-loving guy! The worst bit is that its working, twitter is flooded with ‘he’s actually really funny!’ and ‘let’s vote him for all the challenges!’, giving him more airtime, more time to win over the public and distance himself and the whole Tory government from the atrocities they committed.  

Celebrity culture is now seeping into every aspect of our lives, our governmental system is so broken that people are desperate to turn politicians into celebrities so they can avoid the fact that they’re terrible at being politicians. Matt Hancock is trying to get the BoJo treatment, the- ‘he’s so funny he’s like a cartoon! Silly bumbling Boris!’- treatment that effectively got him the power he has today. Hence, it really isn’t an understatement when I say our government is a complete joke. The other celebrities on the show this year did bring up Matts behaviour during the pandemic, and his reply was always some annoyingly diplomatic statement about falling in love. I think what can often be forgotten about politicians, especially those belonging to the current Conservative party, is that they are excellent at manipulation. Do you think whoever does Matt Hancock’s publicising would let him on this show if he didn’t know Matt knew the exact things to say and ways to behave? Unfortunately, something we should have learned by now with twelve years of Tory leadership is that there is always a sinister motive to their actions.   

While they are featuring in the same article, the Netflix special Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has little to do with a bumbling idiot on ITV. But they are both part of a wider problem, because we are obsessed with TV and the people we see on TV, production companies have started to realise they can sell us anything. They can create ten episodes recreating real life gruesome murders while casting everyone’s favourite white boy Even Peters to play the murderer and people will lap it up! So, the families of these men have to watch everyone go crazy for the man that ruined their families life. They must relive that grief and watch people get rich from their suffering. Not only that, but the story that’s being told is partly fictionalised, it’s not even true! It’s been sensationalised to attract viewers, and some could argue to garner sympathy for Dahmer as a character. Fabricating a relationship between him and one of his victims to make it seem like he had any sympathy for the victims he tortured and killed.  

This might sound a bit like slander, you might be saying ‘Maeve, lighten up everyone likes true crime and scary stories.’ Sure! I enjoy it probably more than the average person! But what you learn when you consume a lot of true crime or horror media is the difference between sensitive and insensitive portrayals. Documentaries have been made about Dahmer; it’s been done. A focus on the victims, a plain telling of the facts, avoiding sensationalising or sexualising those involved, that’s how you portray something like this sensitively.  

What I’m getting at, very long-windedly, is that there is a difference between using television to give the public access to parts of the world we wouldn’t typically know about, like the personality of politicians, or court records of serial killers, and profiting off controversy. That is all these shows are doing, profiting from curiosity and ‘thank god that could never happen to me’ mentalities. Giving politicians who barely did anything when they were in office more of a chance to show off like narcissistic celebrities. Does anyone remember when politicians just used to conduct politics? I have no reservations about saying that Matt Hancock has blood on his hands. So, to boil it down to one point, the same thing I said in part one, Stop making criminals famous.  

Maeve Topliff

Aberdeen '24

Vice president of my lovely little Aberdeen Chapter. Currently studying English at The University of Aberdeen. I like writing about films and women and quite often women in films. I am passionate about using my voice for change.