Our Obsession with the Psychopath

If you have access to the internet, you would have noticed that the recent obsessions have been regarding a rather dark topic, murder.  For example, Netflix has recently released "Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes".  There has been a great deal of discussion, particularly on Twitter on whether or not this is idealizing Ted Bundy and allows for forgetting his many victims.  Shortly before Ted Bundy was released, the Netflix obsession was a fictional show called You.  This show focused on Joe, a regular guy except for the fact that he was a stalker and a murderer.  The issue with this show is that it messed with the psyche of the viewer, they found themselves weirdly feeling for or rooting for Joe.  

Image result for conversations with a serial killer ted bundy netflixPhoto Source: variety.com 

"You" was an amazingly strange show because it caused you to really think about what was going on.  And maybe that is where the title came from, the show isn’t about the characters at all but about how the audience views them and what that says about them.  Joe was such an interesting character because the scenes where he was being a good person, you were forced to forget that he was a terrible human being, forcing the viewer into the idea of a seemingly “normal” psychopath.  Which brings us back to Ted Bundy.

Photo Source: mamamia.com.au 

Shortly after the release of the "Ted Bundy Tapes" on Netflix, Zac Efron posted that he was going to be starring as Ted Bundy in a new film, "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile".  The interesting thing about this casting is that they purposely chose someone who is viewed as an icon of love, everyone I know loves Zac Efron.  This was purposeful casting to show the story of Ted Bundy on another level. Ted Bundy was weirdly loved. He literally had a fan club of women that refused to believe that this handsome and charming man could ever harm and brutally murder women.  Zac Efron is the perfect icon to show this, I myself thought about the fact that I don’t want to see this movie because I don’t want my image of Zac to be ruined by him playing such a terrible character. This was a similar thing with Ted Bundy being seen as not possibly being a murderer because of his charismatic attitude.  

Picture Source: flickeringmyth.com

All of this is to say that humans have this weird thing where we want to like the psychopath.  We want to watch the murderer. Humans inherently have an obsession with violence. Think about it, action movies sell the most, no one can look away from the gruesome car crash on the freeway. In the past we have had an image of who the psychopath could be, a crazy, not normal, anti-social person that you could clearly identify as possibly being dangerous.  But what all these recent releases have showed us that this isn’t always the case. The murderer can be a “regular Joe” literally in the show You.  Now I’m not saying that the nice guy who holds the door open for you as you enter class is a potential serial killer I am just pointing out that media is now changing the stereotype of a murderer, whether for warning or simply entertainment is a deeper question.