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A Look into the Ted Bundy Controversy

If you have been on any kind of social media recently, you may have noticed an old name floating around again: Ted Bundy. From the new Netflix documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, to the recent film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, the name of Ted Bundy has risen again. And, if possible, the name has risen with even more controversy than the first time.

The controversy around Bundy has exploded in recent media, mainly due to his portrayal in Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. The director of the film has been criticized for portraying Bundy (played by Zac Efron) in a sexualized manner, and romanticizing the idea of the serial killer.

Social media is buzzing with tweets and posts about Ted Bundy and his alleged “hotness,” so much so that Fox News released an article about the trend.

Even Netflix tweeted to address this new phenomenon:

Regardless of personal preference, there is evidence of Bundy’s charm and charisma in many quotes from people close to him, and even survivors of him.

Rhonda Stapely, a Bundy survivor, recalled her impression of Bundy: "He was very nice, polite, well-dressed. He looked like a college student and he presented himself as a college student... He told me he was a law student, he was going up to the university too and it was just right on his way, it wouldn't be out of his way at all to drop me off...And then he turned in his seat so he was almost facing me, and leaned in really close. I thought he was going to kiss me. But instead he said, 'You know what? I'm going to kill you.' And he put his hands on my throat and started squeezing and shaking me" (Woods, 2018).

This opinion of Bundy is not new; even people who knew him believed him to be a handsome, charismatic guy. He was a successful law student. He was intelligent. He was seemingly normal- on the outside, at least.

It is easy to regard someone we see on television as hot. It is easy when we believe it is an actor, someone who couldn’t possibly be capable of committing those crimes.

What people forget to remember, in the controversy of his looks, is that Ted Bundy did commit those crimes. He escaped jail twice. He murdered and raped at least 30 women, and admitted to doing so days before his execution. He brutalized people’s daughters, people’s friends, and created a culture of fear in America.

People forget that Bundy isn’t a fictional character in a Netflix drama, but a person who terrorized numerous cities and families, not even 50 years ago.

In light of this, Efron commented on this new trend in a recent interview, and made sure to set the record straight: “I feel a responsibility to make sure that this movie is not a celebration of Ted Bundy,” Efron says. “Or a glorification of him. But, definitely, a psychological study of who this person was. In that, there’s honesty.” he told Variety.  

If we are not careful, this trend can easily turn into the celebration of the serial killer. We see the glorification of him, even now, in the dialogue that is occurring solely based on his looks.

Attraction isn’t something that people choose. If you happen to find a person attractive, there is nothing inherently wrong with that. But what we need to remember, in the midst of all of the opinions, is who Ted Bundy really was. A man who did unspeakable things to countless women. A man who single-handedly help create the serial killer trend in America. A man who took away the future, the innocence, and the lives of 30 women.

A man who does not deserve to be glorified for his looks.

A man who deserves to be remembered for who he really is: a murderer. A rapist. A monster.

It is important to remember, now more so than ever, that looks really aren’t everything.   Look at the person. Their values, their actions. And then decide if that person is worth a word like “hot.”



Clemson University Her Campus Senior Editor
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