Dahmer Article


Kaelyn-Rose Miranda , News Writer

After a month of trying to avoid watching Netflix’s original Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, my curiosity of wanting to know why all the attention on Dahmer after so many movies have been made about him gave in. What was supposed to be one episode before my 6:00 pm Tuesday class quickly turned into a Netflix marathon that quite frankly, I have some regrets about. Soon after finishing the series, I became more aware of how people all over social media platforms are expressing their opinions about Dahmer. 


In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, director Ryan Murphy explained the purpose of the disturbing series was to show what made Dahmer the monster he became. Although the show does exactly that, many responses on social media have come out expressing sympathy for the Milwaukee cannibal and even going as far as to dress up as Dahmer while making jokes about this extreme crimes


“It’s sickening,” Charlotte Kard ‘23 said. “I wasn’t able to watch more than a few episodes because of all the Dahmer edits I’ve seen.” 


Having sympathy for a serial killer is not anything new, but there seems to be an unusual amount of sympathy for Dahmer in particular. My guess is because Evan Peters plays Dahmer but there’s much more that goes into it. Sympathy for Dahmer has always been the case even before the series aired. According to Dr. Ferguson, a professor from the psychology department here at Stetson, many serial killers have certain qualities that make them interesting, qualities that can be “quite charming” in some cases. 


“They have some of these positive qualities that we like in people and yet they do these horrible things,” Dr. Ferguson said, adding that “part of what happens is that they have these qualities of being charming and intelligent and they can in some cases seduce other people into putting themselves in dangerous situations like the men that went into Dahmer’s apartment.” 


In Dahmer’s case, the series builds on the idea of him being a victim or rather someone who is a result of his surroundings. As the series is told in a nonlinear fashion, we get flashbacks of Dahmer suffering from neglect and emotional abuse by his divorced parents. The series depicts that he is not the only one to blame; however, this is by no means meant to be an excuse for his crimes. Many people around the world deal with neglect, divorced parents, and feeling alone. So what sets Dahmer apart? 


“What you may sometimes see is some people who are already in that direction, they’re already planning to engage in these crimes, and they may idolize people that came before. But you see that phenomenon a little bit more with mass homicides.” Dr. Ferguson said.


What sets apart serial killing from other crimes like homicides is the internal motive for why they are doing it. It seems that people like Dahmer are less likely to be fame seeking according to Dr. Ferguson. Their motive behind doing these crimes is to gain power, which we see occur in the series as Dahmer drugs his victims. Unlike crimes related to mass shootings where these killers want to be “seen”, serial killers don’t even know if other people like them exist, which we see in one of the last few episodes of Dahmer, when his father is explaining to him about a similar case to his. 


“Serial killers have their own more internal motive toward why they are doing it. They seem to be less likely to be fame seeking; they really aren’t in it to get personal fame. Their motive is sexual or power. You don’t really see any kind of evidence that they’re fascinated with other serial killers,” Dr. Ferguson said. 


So why all the fuss over Dahmer still after decades? Is it because Evan Peters plays the role? At any rate, this hyperfixation on dangerous individuals both glorifies them in the public eye and desensitizes the masses to their crimes. Remembering everyone’s humanity is one thing, but cosplaying as a serial killer or sending them fanmail is another matter entirely. We should take care not to grow detached to the severity of the real life consequences that result from cases like this, and remember to keep things in perspective.