I've never been one to willingly watch horror movies or thrillers. In fact, when I was younger, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban terrified me to the point of being unable to look out the window at night because I was afraid I would see a dementor.
Now, however, I've found a hidden passion for true crime and paranormal stories that all started with my favorite podcast "And That's Why We Drink" and bled into my love for "My Favorite Murder," another weekly podcast.
So why am I encouraging you to listen to dark stories about troubled people? Because despite the horrific details of some of the murders, kidnappings, and hauntings, there are important lessons to be learned. One of the most interesting, most controversial, and most relevant is the serial killer Ted Bundy.
Just this month, Netflix added "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" to its movie collection. This movie, starring Zac Efron as Ted Bundy, follows the trial and eventual execution of Ted Bundy. This film sparked a lot of criticism as many claimed it "glorified" the serial killer and presented him as a "hot" and "sexy" man to be looked up to. The cast, naturally, reacted to this criticism, with Zac Efron stating, "Ted Bundy was a clean-cut, white dude, white person, so talk about white privilege. What he got away with back then, nobody would be able to do today."
In a similar vein, Joe Berlinger, the producer, and director of the film states, "You can't watch this film and say that we're glamorizing or glorifying Bundy. What we're doing is portraying the psychology of deception and betrayal."
Of course, these responses to the criticism the film received did little to sway the public's mind. So instead of taking the opinions of viewers and cast/crew members as the "end-all-be-all" of the Ted Bundy film, I decided to do some of my own research.
First of all, for those who don't know anything about Ted Bundy, Bundy was a serial killer from 1973 — 1978. As a child, Bundy grew up believing that his mother was his sister, and his grandparents were his mother and father, but it is believed he discovered the truth in high school and it had little effect on his personal development.
In 1966, Bundy started college at Seattle's University of Washington where he studied psychology. Along with his studies, he often worked the night-shift at the local suicide hot-line. He then met Liz Kloepfer, whom he fell madly in love with and dated until he was arrested for kidnapping in 1976.
It is believed that Bundy killed more than 30 girls in a seven-year period, often strangling and mutilating the bodies of his victims. His victims were even as young as twelve.
So why is Ted Bundy so important you may ask? Because he broke all the stereotypes about serial killers.
Bundy was described as an attractive, charming man. He did well in school, graduated college, began working for local Republican politicians and studying to become a lawyer.
Because of all this, Bundy was ruled out by police multiple times. He gave a false perception of safety simply because he was attractive and had a way with words. In fact, during his trial, many young women would attend just to see the "handsome" criminal, many believing there was no way he could have committed the murders.
Many of his murders were dependent upon the fact that women felt safe around him. When seducing a victim, his typical plea was to put his arm in a fake cast and ask a female to help him back to his car. Now think for a moment, if some random stranger asked for your help, but he was covered in tattoos, or piercings, or was under-dressed, and dirty, would you help? What if he was clean-cut and handsome with a nice smile?
Talking about Ted Bundy is so important because it demonstrates that attractiveness does not equal safety. That just because someone seems charming and sweet, doesn't mean they are mentally stable. Also, working for an organization that helps people, like the suicide hotline, does not automatically make someone a "good" person.
In the end, I believe that the movie "Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile" does a great job of focusing on the important aspects of the Ted Bundy case and pointing out the danger in believing that attractiveness means safety. Though Bundy would have found other victims, sometimes I wonder if his victims had known what we know, that attractive men are not automatically safe, if someone some of the murders could have been prevented.
Of course, it is not the fault of the victims for not knowing such information, but the fault of a society that teaches its citizens to trust those who "look" trustworthy and stay away from those who do not.
All information about Ted Bundy cited from Murderpedia.