While I have never truly understood the love that people have for serial killer media, in both my friend group and at home, I am surrounded by avid fans of the true-crime genre. These explorations of violent transgressions against other people prompted me to consider the possible drawbacks and effects that this genre can have on people. I previously discussed Why is true crime bad for society? by Laura Bogart which brought up how true crime media can dehumanize victims by focusing entirely on the perpetrator and even glorify violence and mental health issues.
The Benefits of Murder by Bethany Knickerbocker provides a different, more positive perspective on this subject. The author argues that this genre can help reduce anxiety in some individuals by exposing them to the worst possible scenario, providing them with a sense of control, as well as insight into the mind of the person committing the crime. “Women willingly scare themselves by consuming these stories because the exposure helps to alleviate anxieties. (…) Survival skills gleaned from this information makes a person feel more prepared” (Knickerbocker 2017).
She goes on to discuss how true crime media can make people more aware of injustices that are occurring inside of the legal system. A big part of the genre is the aftermath of the crime, the trial and the conviction. By looking at this portion critically instead of focusing entirely on gore and murder methods, we can bring to light instances where people were wrongly convicted, treated unequally, or got away scot-free. In this way, true crime can serve as a conversation starter about the shortcomings of the justice system and maybe even prompt change in the future.
True Crime, like many genres, has pros and cons, both of which should be talked about if we want to have meaningful discussions regarding its effects.