Serial Killers And Society Essay

The nineteen-seventies was an incredible decade. It was a
decade of change, one of freedom, a time for great music. It was also
an incredible decade for shock, fear and serial killers. John Wayne
Gacy, an amateur clown, was a pedophiliac homosexual. He tortured and
killed thirty three little boys and stored their remains under his
house. David Berkowitz, a.k.a. the Son of Sam, stalked New York City
from nineteen-sixty-seven to nineteen-seventy-seven. He claimed to
have been following a voice from his dog that told him when and where
to kill. Ted Bundy, who is believed to have killed at least
thirty-four people, was charged for only three under his own defense-
and in fact, he was commended by the judge for his own defense. He was
put to death.
With the combination of a very powerful media and a society
fascinated with gruesome, sadistic crimes, modern serial killers have
been put in the spotlight. We are enraptured with serial killers so
much, that we pay seven dollars to go see a movie where everyone
except the bad guys gets strangled, mutilated, or shot- and enjoy it
in some sick way. The media goes out of its way to glamorize murder
and terrify the public. We support killers like Charles Manson on
Death Row with our tax dollars. In fact, we support them with more
than that. About two months ago there was an art show in California
entitled: The Death Row Art Show III. Pieces sold for thousands of
dollars regardless of their aesthetic appeal, because of the identity
of the artists. Serial killers are becoming as popular as rock stars.
Serial killers are a development of the industrial world; they
really didn’t “come about” until the late eighteen-hundreds when
society was becoming modernized and the threat of the new age sort of
displaced some individuals so much they felt they had to kill to get
their point across to society. Jack the Ripper is probably the most
notorious killer in history because he established the serial killer
profile. Ripper set up a pattern for the new line of mass murderers
who would follow in the tradition of a truly organized killer. He had
a sexual obsession with prostitutes that led him to target complete
strangers for a days work. When he was done, he laid his victim out in
a ritualistic manner with various disemboweled items placed
strategically on or around the victim’s corpse.

Of course, murder has been around for centuries, committed by
under-educated thieves. No one was interested in meeting, and hearing
about a poor peasant that slit someones throat in a dark alley. But
ever since the introduction of serial killers into our society, with
their precision and strategy of the murder, the media became
fascinated with these people, and so did society. So instead of
killing or punishing these horrible people, we now have television
networks arguing over movie rights to the killers story. News shows
fighting to get the “exclusive interview”. T-shirts with the killers
faces on them(e.g.. the famous “Manson T-shirt”). The only explanation
I can offer is that we are still obsessed with our own mortality, and
we always will be. As long as we die, we’ll be fascinated by those who
seem to be invincible from death like, serial killers, Hitler…its
almost as is we like to see the act of death itself, over and over, to
observe the exact moment- or what it is that puts us over that
incredible brink between life and death.

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I can honestly say I am fascinated with the serial killer. But
since when did we condone the practice of serial killers? Why aren’t
they put to death promptly after being convicted, instead of being
kept alive for the media to interview? You have to wonder who is
making money in this. When we allow people like this to dominate our
media, it’s like we’re saying its all right to murder. Did society and
the media forget that the victims of those serial killers are us and
our families? Its not the serial killers that affected the twentieth
century so much, but the spotlight that allowed them to grow.
Maybe if not for all the attention, there wouldn’t of been so
many deaths. There are so many maybes, so many problems. But it all
comes down to one thing, basically, money. The media will do just
about anything for money. When are they going to learn that they have
been corrupting the minds and souls of observers everywhere?

Works Cited
Yofee, Ellen B. “Here Pigs!” Gear October 1995: 10-12
The editors of Time Life Books Serial Killers. Alexandria, Virginia:
Time Life Books, 1992.


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