On January 26, 2019, the film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was released at the Sundance Film Festival. This movie is about serial killer Ted Bundy, who murdered at least 30 women.
He preyed on women in public places, usually acting injured or confused to gain their trust before brutally murdering them and, sometimes, performing sexual acts on their rotting corpses.
There is nothing about Ted Bundy that makes him a redeemable human being. Bundy is disgusting, cruel, and belongs in the lowest depths of Hell. Yet, during his trials, the judge expressed that he wished he could have worked with Bundy under different circumstances.
Even after hearing of his crimes, women cried when he was sentenced to death. His friends and family refused to believe that he had committed his crimes until after he died; some believed he was innocent until their deaths.
Theodore Robert Bundy was born on November 24, 1946. The identity of his father is unknown, but some believe that Ted Bundy was created out of an incestual assault and his father is actually his maternal grandfather.
There is evidence that his grandfather was abusive, but Ted Bundy states that he was very close to him and spoke of him kindly. His family regularly went to church, and he was active in his community.
His high school classmates state that Bundy was well-liked and well-known. He had stable relationships and a few girlfriends. He was liked by his professors and colleagues. He spent time working as a social worker and wanted to go into politics. He worked for a suicide hotline and created a pamphlet on rape prevention for the Seattle Crime Prevention Advisory Commission.
I am not telling you this to humanize him. I am telling you this because these facts about him are what allowed him to become one of the most notorious serial killers in the world.
On social media, there have been many complaints about Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, and not just because the name is a mouthful. People are stunned at the fact that someone like Zac Efron, an attractive and popular actor, is playing Ted Bundy.
They feel the movie is romanticizing his story and that it is making people believe that he is something that he wasn't. When we think of serial killers, we think of people who have gone through extreme psychological trauma or someone who has shown sociopathic behavior since childhood.
Many serial killers tortured small animals or collected bones during middle school, and their violent nature grew from there. Ted Bundy's family and childhood peers have stated many times that he was not this kind of person. He was social, appeared kind and put together, and has been described as "charming" by his own victims. These factors, combined with an institutionalized belief that white man are the peak of society, is how he escaped capture and cornered his victims.
Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is filmed from the point of view of Ted Bundy's long-time girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer. This is an extremely important aspect of the movie because Kloepfer spent her entire relationship with Bundy romanticizing him and believing firmly that he was a normal man. So, is the movie romanticizing Ted Bundy? Yes. That's the entire point.
8 out of 10 rapes are committed by someone the victim knew. (RAINN)
40% of police officer families experience domestic abuse. Only 10% of the general population reports experiencing domestic abuse. (National Center for Women and Policing)
White celebrity abusers are excused or justified 2 ½ times more than black celebrity abusers. (Joanna Rae Pepin)
Ted Bundy was romanticized. He was loved by his girlfriend(s) and his family. He was let off the hook and was able to escape jail multiple times due to his skin color and his charm. He murdered over 30 women and had sex with their corpses.
He was extremely wicked. He was shockingly evil. He was vile. But, so were the police that handled his cases. So was the judge that wished he could work with him in a different life. So is the system that destroys the lives of black men for walking down the street and allows white rapists to walk free.
If we do not show this romanticization, we are failing to learn from our mistakes. We are failing the women who will not report brutal attacks by the men who claim to love them.
We are failing the children that are assaulted by their "kind" neighbors or family friends. We are allowing ourselves to believe only people who have shown their twisted, disgusting thoughts since early childhood are capable of being this way.
Instead of complaining about the way they are portraying Ted Bundy, use your time to research domestic abuse statistics. Take time to call out the white men in your life who do not understand how to respect women. Listen to your friends when they report weird men following them around. Be cautious of those who seem like they could do no wrong.
Believe victims; believe survivors.
(All information about the Ted Bundy case comes from the Netflix docu-series Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes)