A victim of a stabbing thinks our true crime obsession is creepy

Originally published at: A victim of a stabbing thinks our true crime obsession is creepy | Boing Boing


Absolutely agree. I have never understood why people like true crime and why it exploded recently. It is not only depressing, it also just feels so…sleazy. Like reading the tabloids but feeling OK about it because it’s an NPR presenter that reads them to you.


The idea of a “favorite murder or murderer” is [ridiculous].

Also, WTF is up with the obsession over missing white women; ignoring that nearly 40% of missing people come a smaller portion of the population. White woman syndrome much?


It gets even worse when people start saying they think so-and-so murderer is cute/hot/attractive… people did it with Ted Bundy, the remaining Boston Bomber, this jerk that killed a woman and her daughter while street racing…

That’s maybe the type of intrusive thought you can joke around with a very close friend, but yikes… that thought should really never go any further than that. People need better filters.


The wisest words ever typed.


I personally don’t understand why people like fictional crime shows. At least the true crime stuff is realistic, doesn’t glamorize anything, and doesn’t insult the intelligence of the viewer, though it may of course horrify. And on a sidenote police interrogations, which are now all over the Youtubes, are some pretty amazing psychological thrillers.

I’ve been saying the same thing about serial killers for more years than I care to count. Never understood it, don’t want to, and await the year people drop it for good.


I noticed a couple of people who seemed to be doing it for ethical reasons (like to get exposure on cold cases and missing people) seemed to get burned out pretty thoroughly, which I think maybe contributes to the way it turns into sort of a fetish hawked by functional sociopaths. People end up romanticizing their fears I guess and making heroes out of murderous shitballs. But hey… something something engagement…


I am a big fan of the band KMFDM, and found out around 7 or so years ago there is a sub set of fans who are there only because they are infatuated with the Columbine killers (who had some KMFDM lyrics on their webpage). And then there was that woman a few years ago from Florida who was infatuated with them. She went to Colorado and killed herself. :confused:

So yeah, I kinda understand the gossipy nature of humans and how they gravitate to the tawdry, lurid and macabre. And while some people take that too far, others really take it too far fetishizing murderers.

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Stakes is why.

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I took a, well, fairly shallow dive some years ago now (30, or so) and read only
True Crime for some months. I was looking for I’m not at all sure what.

It made me feel very, very dirty.

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Personally, I like a certain genre of these bc they typically include a group of smart, caring people trying to solve problems and bring justice to the world. Criminal Minds was one I really liked. I think people who enjoy solving puzzles for relaxation, but who also have a dark side, might like these kinds of shows. I’m not trying to convince anyone, just explaining what some of us see in them.

A local duo has been making “the misery machine” podcast for a while now, and I hope they don’t burn out. I’m not a huge true crime fan, but I really like their work. They’re humane, often point out the failures of TPTB in letting this stuff happen, and seem to honor the victims.
ETA: they’re currently working on a series of child abuse cases in each state, which is bringing attention to the failures of our CPS system, and I applaud them.


Because I’m not using the suffering of real people for my entertainment that way.

Sorry if that sounds harsh and moralistic. I’m not trying to shame anybody, I just really can’t understand how that is entertainment.


'Cause I need to watch things die
From a distance
Vicariously I live while the whole world dies
You all need it too, don’t lie

I am not a fan of true crime as entertainment. Both my parents enjoyed it, so I got exposed to far more true crime shows than I ever wanted to watch. The forensic shows were the most tolerable, because they tended to focus on the science, which was interesting. Even so, they’d watch hour after hour of them, and I’d have to find some distraction after a while, because I found it depressing to be exposed to so much real-life pain and misery.

I don’t mind fictional who-dunnits, in moderation, because they’re fiction. There’s an element of puzzle-solving to them, because the viewer can match wits with the detectives to see who puts together the clues first. But my folks watched a lot of those too, to the point I still feel kind of burned out on shows like Criminal Minds and such. I prefer the cozier kind of mysteries; I used to regularly watch Castle and Lucifer, which had focused as much (if not more) on the regular characters’ lives as they did on the plot… but that’s my personal preference. :woman_shrugging:


It’s only really begun to sink in how much our perception of violent crime and its dynamics are, for most people, 100% a media creation. Not just the way the news and documentaries create these false narratives due to what they focus on (and how they report it), but due to fiction, too. (American notions about murder have more to do with murder mysteries than anything based on reality.)

It’s incredibly dangerous, as it stops us from having any reasonable policy discussions about say, gun control, because the discussion is entirely premised on fictional notions of how murder and violence works.


From what I have observed, a lot of these true crime fans have kind of been in the closet, not having much of an outlet or a space to discuss and process these details they have downloaded over the decades. Those people found their people in podcasts and online and is why it appears to be expanding, they have more visibility right now.

Alternatively, there are scientific and academic industries that research wars, famine, plague, weapons, and true crime but are those professionals thrown shade? (The number of people I have watched, as a child, die on the history channel must be staggering). We have days where we celebrate the dead. We have even created globally respected institutions with the sole purpose of assuring life after death, some followers even wear golden crucifixes. :thinking:

I get why a victim, or anyone, would second guess true crime fandom, but it’s only a small slice of our macabre obsessions.


I hear you, but I have the same qualms about people watching tens of thousands of mock murders throughout their lives. That just can’t be good for the psyche, or for people’s trust levels. And to me at least it seems far worse than watching, say, a police interrogation of someone who committed a crime. Sure that’s real suffering and it’s terrible that it happened, but at a minimum it shows the real consequences of violent crime unlike often glorified fictional renditions.

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For some reason, I’m reminded of this decades old new york times profile of Patricia Cornwall, a writer I haven’t read much of, and don’t care to, either.

“Patsy,” however, insists that “the mystery genre doesn’t apply to what I do, and if you expect that, you’re going to be shocked or disappointed. My books are crime novels and about the people who work crime – and not mysteries, which I’ve never read in my life anyway.”

Cornwell doesn’t “do clues,” as she puts it. Nor does she “do red herrings.” Instead, she tells the reader what it is like to be elbow-deep in blood and looking for pellets, and how hard it is to remove a shirt from death-stiffened arms. Or what it is to be scuba-diving in a murky river, as was a character in “Cause of Death,” and feel your loosened tank begin to slide down your back. She can tell all this because she has done all this, often in the company of an off-duty policeman named Michael McKee, researching it in the interests of an accuracy that is sometimes tough to take – not only for the reader but for her. When I ask if the body farm in “The Body Farm,” where corpses are left outdoors so the F.B.I. can study the rate of decay, is real, she answers sharply, “I don’t make up anything.”

I think I remember this profile because I briefly discussed it with the owner of a specialty mystery bookshop in Yellow Springs, where I went to college. She turned me onto Reginald Hill, who is very much a “mystery writer”. I enjoy mysteries.


I definitely think an obsession with true crime is kind of gross, privileged and disrespectful to the victims and their families and friends. But perhaps a little bit of true crime can be useful for satisfying natural human curiosity and teaching us a little about the extremes of human behavior (which is my excuse for loving The Devil in the White City even though I avoid most of this kind of thing like the plague. The upcoming TV adaptation, on the other hand… euugh.)