They were people

Mieke Vanderkolk

Netflix, you have crossed a line.

A line you can’t uncross.

Errol Lindsey. Say his name. 

He was a real person.

   Steven Hicks, Steven Taomi, James Doxtator, Richard Guerrero, Anthony Sears, Raymond Lamont Smith, Edward Smith, Ernest Miller, David C. Thomas, Curtis Straughter, Tony Hughes, Konerak Sinthasomphone, Anthony Hughes, Matt Turner, Oliver Lacy, Jeremiah Weinberger, Joseph Bradehoft.

 They were people.

 Real living people, not characters in a show.

   The recent release of Netflix’s Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has everyone talking. Teenagers and adults alike continue to treat this like another horror story, but it’s not. Why are we telling a serial killer’s story, and not the story of the victims? This is not ‘representation’, Netflix, and you know it.

 Errol Lindsey had 19 years of his life. He tragically passed away in April of 1991. Devastated, his sister Rita Isbell created an emotional victim impact statement at Dahmer’s 1992 sentencing. Shockingly enough, when Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story was released, Isbell found a recreation of her victim impact statement. An interview with Insider reveals that Netflix made no attempt to contact the family and friends of the victims included in the show. “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it,” said Isbell. “That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then”. 

   Have these families not experienced enough grief, just for it to come back as everyone’s favorite new crime show? 

   Along with Netflix’s blatant disrespect towards the victims and the victim’s families, the show is normalizing blood, gore, and absolute horror to impressionable youth. Many people don’t realize the negative consequences of consuming this kind of media, or they choose to ignore the warnings.

   The National Library of Medicine goes into heavy detail regarding the unspoken impacts of violent media. The study concludes “Taken together, a clear picture has emerged that exposure to violent media increases the likelihood of aggressive thoughts, emotions, and behavior”. Exposing children to the gore-filled series is more serious than people understand. The impact is clearly demonstrated by comments made on social media platforms such as TikTok. Many videos contain youth claiming that ‘the gore didn’t affect them at all’, or ‘they didn’t feel anything’ while watching the Dahmer series, almost as if they are bragging. 

   TikTok is also circulating ‘jokes’ featuring Dahmer and his actions as the laughing point. Fan accounts and edits have been made, mostly by teenagers. We are teaching kids that death is an invitation to make more dark ‘jokes’.

   There are 18 (and counting) seasons of Grey’s Anatomy, yet Netflix chose to produce the most harmful, controversial film they could find. Is Netflix so desperate for views, that they are willing to walk across this line?

Monster: The Jefferey Dahmer Story (Netflix)