Is Hollywood Romanticizing Serial Killers?
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Film

Is Hollywood Romanticizing Serial Killers?

Zac Efron's role as Ted Bundy is controversial, and the debate has sparked a conversation about an even bigger problem.

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Is Hollywood Romanticizing Serial Killers?

"Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" recently premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, and has since generated a lot of online debate. The film, which stars Zac Efron as serial killer Ted Bundy, has become a trending topic due to its controversial nature. People found themselves asking, was this film glamorizing the infamous killer, or was it accurately portraying him as "handsome" and "charismatic"? It seems that most of the Internet has come to the agreement that yes, the film was romanticizing Ted Bundy, but that's because that's what actually happened in the 1970s. All those years ago, people actually saw the murderer as charming and attractive, so it seems that Zac Efron was a suitable choice for the role.

But, even if you were to ignore the controversy surrounding "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile," there is definitely an issue in Hollywood when it comes to the portrayal of killers, psychopaths, and other types of menaces. In addition to Zac Efron, the past few years have seen some of our favorite childhood actors play violent and dangerous people, both real and fictional. In the 2017 film, "My Friend Dahmer," the cannibalistic murderer was portrayed by Ross Lynch, the blonde and bubbly former Disney Channel star. That same year, yet another Disney darling, Dylan Sprouse, took on the role of a violent psychopath in the movie "Dismissed." And Netflix's most recent hit, "You," sees Penn Badgley of "Gossip Girl" transform into a stalker and eventual killer.

We grew up watching these actors play some of our favorite characters in various movies and TV shows - the same movies and TV shows that shaped us to become who we are today. Our childhood is a pivotal time in our development, and what we saw on television and in theaters was a big deal to us. And now, all these years later, it's hard to separate the characteristics of Troy Bolton from that of Ted Bundy or think of the boisterous yet harmless twin Zack Martin as a violent psychopath.

When a person is unable to dissociate one character from another, there is a high possibility of false empathy. We take the desirable attributes of the actor and/or their former character, and then associate them with their new character. We might see ourselves attracted to killers, or sympathize with the actions of psychopaths and stalkers. For example, in "You," Penn Badgley plays violet stalker, Joe Goldberg. Badgley is most famous for his role in "Gossip Girl," in which he plays Dan Humphrey, a nice, funny, and creative New Yorker that woos a pretty blonde - all characteristics that could be used to describe Joe Goldberg. Because of how close Joe's personality is to Dan's, it can be difficult to not see Joe for the horrible monster he actually is.

This new trend of casting charming actors as murderous and violent people might cause some serious problems later down the road. The young and impressionable youth of today might find themselves empathizing with and falling for people who are actually dangerous. Of course, not all killers and psychopaths are unappealing outcasts, so not all killers and psychopaths have to be portrayed by unattractive or unpopular actors. But, because a majority of the roles go to handsome and famous actors, there's a possibility that the way we view dangerous psychopaths and murderers might be changing, and definitely not in a good way.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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