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
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.
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?
Yofee, Ellen B. "Here Pigs!" Gear October 1995: 10-12
The editors of Time Life Books Serial Killers. Alexandria,
Virginia: Time Life Books, 1992.
The editors of Time Life Books Mass Murderers. Alexandria,
Virginia: Time Life Books, 1992.