Jeffrey Dahmer is a Criminal, Not a Trend

Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most notorious serial killers in history. The publicity his crimes received are long-lasting.

Graphic courtesy of Celeste Cariker

Jeffrey Dahmer is one of the most notorious serial killers in history. The publicity his crimes received are long-lasting.

Celeste Cariker, Copy Editor

Netflix series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has become the third most viewed Netflix series in history. The series retells the story of Jeffrey Dahmer, a cruel murderer and cannibal of 17 men as young as 14 years old. The popularity of the series has put Dahmer’s crimes into the public eye once again. Considering that it has been over 30 years since Dahmer’s arrest, we have reached a point in time where spotlighting his heinous crimes is inappropriate.

This attention is putting the families of Dahmer’s victims in distress. 

“If you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show. It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?” wrote Eric Perry, cousin of victim Errol Lindsey, on his Twitter.

Errol Lindsey, Dahmer’s 11th victim, was one of his “experiments”. On April 7th, 1991, Dahmer drilled a hole into his skull and poured hydrochloric acid into it. His intention was to put Lindsey into a zombie-like state where he could not resist Dahmer’s actions.

14 movies and television series about Jeffrey Dahmer have been produced since 1992. The story is old, and the families can feel that their personal stories are being reused for capital gain.

“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.” said Rita Isbell, sister of victim Lindsey. Isbell’s emotional testimony in Dahmer’s court trial was reenacted in the Netflix series and has caught massive attention.

It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed

— Rita Isbell

“I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there.” said Shirley Hughes, mother of Anthony Hughes.

Anthony Hughes was a deaf man who fell victim to Dahmer on May 24th, 1991. Dahmer dismembered Hughes and kept his skull.

It is cruel to continue to force these families to relive extremely traumatic experiences and losses for the sake of public entertainment. Part of the plotline in the Netflix series follows the pain and anger the victims’ families experience in reaction to Dahmer’s father publishing his book, A Father’s Story, written after his son’s arrest. The irony is unbearable as the series puts the families through the same anguish they capture in the show. Applause goes to Netflix for finding a unique way to be completely invalidating.

Alongside the trending Netflix series, insensitive merchandise can be found across the internet. Facemasks, t-shirts, ornaments, earrings of Dahmer’s head, mugs with cannibalism puns, and more are being sold online. One shirt with Dahmer’s face across the chest says, “I eat guys like you for breakfast”. A pair of earrings says, “If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em”.

People on the internet have gone as far as participating in TikTok trends under the hashtag “jeffreydahmer”. In one trend users find polaroids of Dahmer’s crime scenes and victims and provide reactions to them. In another trend users pretend to dance as Jeffrey Dahmer.

Halloween brought Jeffrey Dahmer costumes – exemplified by Filipino actor Martin Del Roasrio, who posted a now deleted photo of himself in his costume. Rosario apologized on Instagram.

“I sincerely apologize if I offended some of you with my Halloween costume. I did not intend to create buzz for my personal gain nor exude that attitude of indifference towards the victims of the character I wore.” said Rosario.

Every headline about the hit Netflix series, every TikTok about Dahmer’s crimes, and every piece of merchandise is an insensitive reminder to families of Jeffrey Dahmer’s victims. They are statements. They are telling these families that their comfort and healing is worth less than our entertainment. It is telling them that their experiences are jokes to the world.

Jeffrey Dahmer should not be the subject of over a dozen films. He should not be an article of clothing. He should not be a mug, or a pair of earrings. He should not be a TikTok trend. He should not be an aspect of popular culture. He is a serial killer, and the weight of his crimes still have a hold on those who were affected by the deaths of their loved ones.