Everything Wrong With Zac Efron Playing Ted Bundy and How to Protect Yourself From an Attack

When I saw an article advertising Zac Efron as the “sexy” new face of America’s most talked about serial killer, Ted Bundy, I had to get up and physically walk away from my computer. 2019 marks the 30th anniversary of Ted Bundy’s execution as a serial murderer of around 30 young women and college students. Ted Bundy admitted to killing 36 young women during the 1970s, but experts believe that the final number is closer to 100 or more. The youngest victim was only eight years old. When I first saw the trailer for Netflix’s four-part series “Conversations with a Serial Killer: Ted Bundy Tapes,” I was convinced I’d be watching another true crime docudrama romanticizing America’s fascination with serial killers. But I was surprised to see that the series went in an entirely different direction. Spoiler, but it turns out Ted Bundy wasn’t the charming chameleon that everyone fell prey to, he was just a straight white man who used his privilege to get away with abusing and murdering over 30 young women.

Why was Ted Bundy Such a big deal?

The Netflix documentary explains how in the mid-seventies, Ted Bundy was the first known serial killer to commit such a large volume of high profile murder crimes. Larry Simpson, the prosecutor of the Chi Omega Trial, mentioned that this was the first time there was a case this massive televised for the entire nation to watch. The nation’s media coverage banded together to track the entire event including, but not limited to, several of his escapes, his ongoing murders, and the media was in court filming the entire trial live.

One of the interviewees stated that “Ted stood out because he was an enigma -clean-cut and handsome law student- didn’t look like he was capable of killing young girls.”

So What if Zac Efron plays Ted Bundy?

The problem isn’t necessarily that Zac Efron is playing Ted Bundy, but while the Netflix documentary focuses on the victims, the new feature film “Extremely Wicked and Shockingly Vile” focuses on the allure of Ted Bundy. Bundy was not a “bad boy,” he was not a handsome heartthrob, and he was not a clever young man. He was sick and he was responsible for a number of disturbed and heartbreaking murders. Even stating in the documentary, ‘Women are possessions…women are merchandise,” during his last days of life.

Interview with Jun Shihan (New Master) Gail Lajoie:

Gail Lajoie is a karate instructor here at Ithaca College and in addition to her experience in traditional karate, Gail is also certified by the American Women's Self Defense Association as an instructor of self-defense, and by Resolution Group International in conflict resolution and ethical protection. Since 2012, she has been teaching self-defense classes and seminars that help empower people with the physical and mental skills to keep themselves safe.

Q: You’re most known for teaching Karate courses here at Ithaca College, but can you tell me a little bit about what brought you to self-defense?

G: “I started teaching self-defense courses several years after I began my martial arts training and teaching after I had been to a self-defense teacher training course.  I was really impressed by the techniques we practiced, which were simple enough for anyone to learn in a fairly short period of time (unlike martial arts which can take a long time to master). I was also really drawn to the idea of helping other people feel empowered to protect themselves, not only by teaching them physical skills but by helping them realize their own power in making decisions to protect themselves emotionally and mentally as well.”

Q: Why do you think self-defense should be taught in schools?

G: “I actually really wish we didn’t need to teach self-defense at all. But because there are difficult people and circumstances around us, I believe that everyone should be as aware and prepared as they can possibly be. Having a course offered at school, whether it’s in a K-12 environment or at the college level, is a great way to expose people to the opportunity.”​

Q: Are there any behaviors or warning signs to look out for of people who might act out violently?

G: “Violent people come in all shapes and sizes, and their violence is expressed in many different ways.  There may be some signs (like an obviously angry person who’s holding a weapon and shouting at you), or they may have a more subtle approach (like a person who is very charismatic or charming, all in the name of being manipulative). The outward anger and violence is easy to see, and if we can avoid it that’s the best possible scenario.  The more subtle forms of violence can be difficult to identify. Often we see the manipulative person progress to violence in a domestic violence situation. Overall, if you have any misgivings about a person or situation, if your ‘little voice’ is telling you something, pay attention to that feeling and get away quickly if you can.”

Q: What are some quick tips to remember when walking alone or if you see an oncoming threat?

G: “Be aware, no matter where you are. It’s so easy to be distracted by phones or music, and we often create our own little bubble where we can’t hear anyone or anything around us. We can’t protect ourselves from a situation we can’t see, whether it’s a potentially violent person or just a big pothole in the sidewalk. So awareness is the first line of defense. Let people know where you’re going, especially if you’re going somewhere alone. If you see the threat coming and have time to get away, get away! Don’t wait for the person to get closer or the situation to get worse. Get to a safe place—an open building with lots of lighting and groups of people.”

Q: What problems do you think have led to the need for self-defense courses? What benefits can young women gain from taking a self-defense course?

G: “Sadly, there are many issues that have led to the need for self-defense training.  Though we live in a fairly quiet community, we still experience things like muggings, robbery, sexual assault, and even murder. And aside from those very significant experiences, we all deal with very subtle forms of violence and oppression every day—being verbally harassed based on our perceived culture, race, or sexual orientation, or just being pressured by people who are trying to manipulate us for any number of their own reasons. My goal in teaching self-defense is to have each person experience their own moment of empowerment, where they realize they have options. They can say “no,” they can make their own choices and feel confident about them, or they feel like they can fight back if someone tries to hurt them.”


Maybe the focus shouldn’t be on Ted Bundy, but why he did what he did. This way his actions can’t be repeated by someone else in the future. And young women can feel safe walking alone...