Seventies serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy’s pop culture reputation has been boosted by the upcoming Netflix movie, “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile,” which cast conventionally attractive actor Zac Efron as Bundy.
Netflix also released a docu-series surrounding the story of Bundy called “Conversations with A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes.” The buzz surrounding Bundy’s physical appearance was officially addressed by Netflix in a tweet.
“I’ve seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service – almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers,” the official Netflix tweet reads.
It’s difficult to ignore Bundy’s charm, as it’s a large part of what made Bundy a successful serial killer. According to Assistant Professor of Psychology Miranda Goodman-Wilson, psychopaths such as Bundy are typically likable and appealing.
“That’s part of how they accomplish what they’re able to accomplish,” Goodman-Wilson said. “They tend to draw people into them and form really unstable short-term relationships. Those sorts of qualities, if you’re just viewing them, can seem really charming and sophisticated and intelligent.”
According to Goodman-Wilson, there’s a danger that an audience who is too young to remember the real horror of the Bundy murders will only see Bundy as a dangerously sexy character instead of as a real murderer.
First-year Kenzie McNulty agrees that Netflix’s audience might not be the appropriate demographic for the Bundy-centric film.
“I think people are going to fall into a trap of romanticising Ted Bundy, which is really unhealthy, especially because they’re putting it out to a Netflix-age audience… which is teenage girls,” first-year Kenzie McNulty said.
Bundy confessed to killing at least 30 people, but estimates have been recorded as high as 100. The last known victims were killed in 1978 leaving many of their family members alive today. While it is not morally wrong to find Bundy attractive, the movie should not sway the audience to sympathize with Bundy. Righteous attention should be given to the victims.
“In focusing all the attention on Ted Bundy … it puts the spotlight on the perpetrator … but ignores the fact that the reason Ted Bundy is famous is because a lot of innocent people lost their lives,” Goodman-Wilson said.
Some have criticized the casting of a popular actor like Efron. His clout could draw more people to watch the movie without considering the real events behind it, or the people who were affected.
“I don’t think it’s ethical because there are families out there who actually went through this, there are victims,” first-year Haley Tharau said.
When digesting a story based on terrifying real-life occurrences, viewers need to remove themselves from the fiction and face the reality. Enjoy the movie at your own discretion, but remember that the characters are more than fictional.