Seeing a serial killer as a hunk is forgetting he’s a monster

Serial killer Ted Bundy is the centerpiece of Netflix’s four-part series examining his life and crimes. He is also being talked about for his physical appearance.

Following the release of “Confessions of a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” Netflix’s official Twitter account responded to an unexpected reaction from viewers.

The Jan. 28 message addressed how popular “talk of Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness” was on social media and gently reminded “everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men…[who] are not convicted serial murderers.”  

The thread that followed divided people, with some concerned about those lusting over “this handsome intelligent murdering mad man,” as one Twitter user described him. Sure, Theodore Bundy, convicted rapist, necrophile and murderer of 30 women, who terrorized a nation with his heinous crimes and was later executed for them, was ironically good-looking.

But he was not hot.

Although shocking — and perhaps offensive — attraction to Bundy is not entirely unfounded.  

Most psychoanalyses of the killer diagnoses him with antisocial personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder or some combination of the two.

The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) includes symptoms of deceit and superficial charm in criteria for diagnosing sociopathy.

A grandiose sense of self, arrogance and lack of empathy are traits recognized by DSM-5 for narcissistic personality disorder.

Serial killers are alluring because they provide false security. It is also human nature to trust more attractive people, so it’s no wonder Bundy’s physical appearance combined with his exploitative, charismatic personality proved lethal.

“I think the documentaries have focused on his grotesque behavior,” liberal arts major Rashaan Burns, 19, said. “They do a good exploration of his personality, necessarily mentioning how attractive he was.”

However, there’s something distasteful about pop culture’s approach to Bundy. It’s not the series romanticizing him, but social media’s tendency to perpetuate the wrong narratives. It’s easy to admire a serial killer if you aren’t focused on the killing part.

Some female students aged 18-24, the age group of the victims, on Orange Coast College’s campus thought the social media remarks about the murderer’s “hotness” were “inappropriate” and “problematic.”

Some noted the seriousness of the dangers young women face, arguing the matter as “disrespectful to the larger issue.”

Adding further controversy to the matter is the newly released film about Bundy, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile.”

“The choice of actor is bothersome, it’s sexualizing a serial killer,” political science major Niousha Farhangi, 19, said referencing Zac Efron’s portrayal as Bundy. “We don’t need a sex symbol playing a serial killer. We don’t need to make memes out of this.”

However arbitrary it seems, repetition gets the point across. Ryan Reynolds is hot.  Margot Robbie is hot. Ted Bundy was a handsome monster with a slimy personality who manipulated women to commit a hideous array of violations against them.

Ted Bundy was not hot.


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