The Internet is Turning its Back on True Crime

The Internet is Turning its Back on True Crime

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the time is 2:30 pm, saturday. location:  playwright counseling services   katie just told me that doc is almost done with  his previous client and that i'll be let in   soon. but i'm on edge. i saw katie step out for a  cigarette break three minutes ago with some guy   probably a boyfriend. probably a stalker. i've been  watching the top of her head through the tiny door   on the window waiting for her to drop, scream,  show any sign of danger. but she's still there   DOCTOR: Ah! M.Shanspeare! I didn't know  you were out here, please come in   didn't know i was out here? that can't be right  katie said...and where is his previous patient?

where did we leave off on our last visit  forgive me for being so scattered i haven't   had the best morning. did you ever get around to  watching the extremely online video i suggested   huh oh yeah i--i enjoyed it. why does  he look so nervous all of a sudden? why is his office in such disarray? could he  have gotten into a struggle before i got here?   yes and uh at the end of our last call you  mentioned something about paranoia induced by   viewing horrific images online? can you elaborate  more on that? yes well i've been watching a lot of   dateline...dear god is that blood on his shirt? i  mean what else could it be? that other patient   ah date line oh i got a little bit of ketchup on  my sleeve i ate a sausage dog earlier for lunch   but yeah dateline that's way beyond your-- your time. i used to watch that with my mom   we were always so intrigued by what made a  a killer tick... i-i heard there was another   patient in here before me were they the  cause of your off-putting morning oh no you--you're actually my first client for today.  i didn't have any other um...MS: that nervous drawl  

that sweat peppering his brow...he's  hiding something. something heinous   something murderous! doctor uh i have to go  um i actually left my stove on. your stove? oh are you--are you sure? will you make it back before-- your appointment ends... doc ain't no killer. he's being investigated  for malpractice in four states because he can't   keep his yap close to his spouse  about private client information   but he ain't no killer. and that previous client? doc just didn't want to mention them because   he's become paranoid about confidentiality. truth  is the client did pass Shanspeare in that hallway  

they just didn't see because they were too  preoccupied with katie the receptionist   not in the fun queer way either. M. Shanspeare is one of many preoccupied by the   worst case scenario. they're convinced everyone  is a killer because they watch so much media   where everyone is indeed the killer. but  this discussion is way more nuanced than   armchair detectives and paranoia. this  seems like the case for a video essayist

oh you meant me? hello, hello i'm shaniya but i go by shanspeare here on youtube   here's my satirical contribution to the episode.  i'm the romanticization of true crime because i   look good but i probably just killed my husband  or something. i don't know it came across better   in the storyboard. the year is 1850. the place: paris, france. spectators line up outside what  

seems to be a department store. clothes hang up  high in the window, stiff mannequin-like bodies   wait below. but no it's not a department store. it's  a theater. the kids press their faces to the glass   waiting to see the puppets dance. snack carts make  their rounds among the families perched about  

everyone is amiable, excited for the show that the  tourist guide calls a 'great parisian attraction'  but there's an anxiety hidden beneath the  anticipation. they all fear the closing of   the curtain. it's the only thing standing between  them and their fun. but the curtain closes anyway   after all, they have to rotate out the dead bodies  and their respective clothing, for the fresh bodies   and theirs. it's not a theater or a department  store. it's the paris morgue. in "the paris morgue   provided ghoulish entertainment," amelia soth  explains how during the 1850s through 1900s   a paris morgue infamously displayed corpses  in its windows. initially, it was an attempt to   utilize public knowledge in order to identify  unknown corpses who were sometimes deceased   factory workers. during the industrialization  period in paris, prospective workers traveled far  

from the countryside in need of income. they found  it--quite unfortunately--in the factories located   in the city. according to natalia bradshaw, the  condition of these job sites were dehumanizing   often leading impoverished employees to  feel enslaved to the wealthier bourgeoisie   "as surviving memoirs from french workers  reveal, unskilled workers were paid poorly, abused   by their employers, could barely afford to  feed themselves, resided in crowded unsanitary   conditions, and received minimal assistance  from the government." it's in these conditions  

that factory workers were injured and at times  accidentally killed. because they were often   migrant workers with families residing outside  of the city, they were displayed in the morgue   windows in hopes of being identified. but by the  1900s...well let's just say good intentions don't   always breed good practice. people were drawn  to the morbidity of the morgue windows, looking  

upon the bodies that were suffocated, stabbed, or  burnt. this fascination was backdropped by snack   peddlers and street performers, peppered by jovial  kids running back and forth between their friends   and the gruesome display in the window. Léon Gozlan, a french playwright likened the display   to a department store. "you go there to see  the drowned as elsewhere you go to see the latest   fashion." there was even a system at  play between the morgue and the newspapers   where you could read about these tragic deaths in  the press and then "pop over to the morgue to view   the victims bodies." or, soth suggests, you  could have even gone to the paris wax museum, which   often found itself in the business of recreating  recent murders in wax. the stated aim of this  

morbid display was to "create a living  newspaper." in truth paris and their   grim fascination with cadavers isn't uncommon in  the united states. i mean it's the united states   that's pretty self-explanatory. after all it  was an american photographer, tom howard, who   took what's known as the most famous tabloid photo  of the 1920s. a photo of ruth snyder mid-execution   ruth snyder ended the life of her husband,  albert, using the help of her married lover   henry judd gray. the picture of ruth's  execution was front page news the next   day, which matthew wills argues "forced the story  into a pre-existing genre of tabloid journalism   sexing it up." the idea of sexing up crime-- or, rather, sensationalizing it--began even earlier  

than the 1928 picture of ruth snyder or even the  1850 paris morgue. in fact murder ballads and crime   pamphlets were extremely popular throughout the  16th and 17th century. readers indulged in horrific   details of recent murders, which were sometimes  set in a narrative tone and in turn spoken from   the killer's point of view. these narratives were  usually coupled with woodcuts that illustrated   gruesome crimes, "dismemberment, torture, and of  course witchcraft" being among them. when  

the penny press was introduced around the 1830s,  these reports garnered a widespread audience due   to their new accessibility. but perhaps none of  these adventures are so infamous as the lizzie   borden case, which made waves in the latter half of  the century. scholars even posit that it was more   popular than the 1995 o.j simpson trial...and we all  know how that one went. the common ground shared  

by these historical accounts of morbidity and our  current obsession with true crime is the perceived   entertainment value and possible condemnation they  both receive. despite historical true crime being   quite popular, especially with the artisan class  who had the literacy, time, and money to spend on   crime pamphlets and murder ballads, the artistic  value of true crime was considered very low brow   only the 'lowest of the low' could possibly find  entertainment in viewing such inhumane, disasterly   content. and despite the current popularity of  true crime today, that sentiment still rings true   in the minds of detractors. true crime creators are  called insensitive or weird; true crime consumers   often have their identity conflated with serial  killer fans; video after video is made condemning   the sensationalist nature of true crime today  and i don't say any of that to say that these   critiques aren't valid. some of them. as someone who  watches a lot of true crime i know firsthand the   many proper and improper ways it could be handled  but i also feel that the criticism levied against   sensationalist true crime is becoming sensational  in its own way. we've talked about how extreme  

onlineness manifests in call outs, how the level  of distance and anonymity allowed by the internet   leads to criticism without construction. i've  ascribed to that in the past, definitely, but i   don't think that's going to solve this problem.  so just like most of my content, the purpose of   this video is not to point fingers. some creators  and true crime fans have their moments to critique   definitely, but giving you a tool to be able to  critically engage with this content is far more   productive than giving you a target. and personally  i feel that although we can point fingers and say   'these people should know better, they should  be doing better' i also think the culture we   have cultivated around true crime has led  to this saturation of insensitive content   we glamorize serial killers in the media, we  give them cool names. we primarily center them   in the conversations--when we have conversations  about true crime in general. so i believe it is  

the culture surrounding true crime, the culture  that we have all cultivated over the course   of centuries, that needs to be critiqued the most. therefore this video is an analysis of the machine   not the part. the only question  remaining is, is that machine salvageable? from the 90s to now, is they would always say 'this  is this person's family' we listened to the family   members as they talked about what happened. you  got to know the people, you were like 'oh my gosh   i'm so sorry that this happened to your family'  i think about forensic files, that's how they   did it. that's always been the formula. since  youtube and podcasts, especially during 2020   in the pandemic, i've seen a lot more people  be like 'oh yeah my favorite crime' or doing   these things. and i have tried so much to  get into mukbangers who were talking about   murders and i couldn't because here's the  thing. the people reporting on these crimes  

one: either were not passionate about it  because they didn't have all the facts. two:   they were just like yeah this is what happened  to this person's body anyway look at my eyelids   are you f****** kidding me? the era of  the crime pamphlet and the murder ballad   may not be as far behind us as one assumes. our  current preoccupation with true crime can best be   described by the ever-growing number of podcasts  and youtube videos on the subject which recount   the details of recent and old murders alike.  but phoebe lett, author of "is our true crime   obsession doing more harm than good?" and michelle  dean, author of "true crime addict: and the serious   problem of internet sleuths," both mention that  the catalyst for today's true crime obsession   are 2014's serial podcast and the 1966 novel in  cold blood by truman capote. although capote's   novel is lauded as a work of art in the genre, it's  also highly contested due to the possibility of   fabricated or sensationalist details included  throughout. jack olsen, who was an american crime  

journalist and author, stated that capote's novel  "made true crime an interesting, successful   commercial genre, but it also began the process of  tearing it down." to gauge the growing saturation   of true crime content, i wanted to track the  growth of true crime titles by utilizing imdb--   one of the largest databases for film, television,  and streaming content. at the time of filming, they   feature about 10 million titles of varying genres.  so you know, not every single piece of media on   the planet but close enough. please remember that i  am an english alumni, not bill nye. none of this is  

peer-reviewed, i'm a disgrace to the academic world,  moving on. according to imdb, at least 55 true crime   documentary titles were released or announced  in 2017. this is specifically in reference to   documentaries and docu-series. in 2018, the number  was at least 74. 2019 and 2020 saw 83 and 93   titles respectively. so we can tell that the number  is steadily rising over this three-year span. in  

2017 we're receiving about four titles per month  in a single year. in 2020 we're receiving around   seven titles a month-- nearly double the amount of  three years prior. but what happened in 2021 is   quite drastic. according to an april 2021 report by  parrot analytics (you know the actual professionals)   documentaries became the largest growing genre  on streaming platforms in 2020. in fact "between  

january of 2018 and march of 2021, the number of  documentary series soared by 63 percent while   demand for them skyrocketed by 142 percent." this  is somewhat reflected in the imdb database with   the year 2021 showing an approximate total of 158  true crime documentaries released to the public   that's around 13 titles per month, almost double  the amount of the year prior. whereas it took   three years to nearly double the number of 2017  titles, it only took one to nearly double 2020s.   so what does that mean? it means that amidst this  clamor for more true crime content, a community   is growing--one that has been steadily growing for  years. amongst the growth of the community is the  

growing popularity of the genre itself. and among  the growing popularity of the genre itself, is the   rise of true crime content. although true crime  content has been around for centuries by this   point, there's been a recent debate around the  morality of consuming and creating this content   it's not necessarily a new debate, as we've seen  earlier, but it's definitely one that tends to   resurface on social media every fortnight. enter  stage left: twitter. "someone could get brutally [law and order sound]  and left to die in their own [law and order sound] and true crime  youtubers will start the video off by taking   an obnoxiously loud sip of their boba and  going so here's the tea!" "people will talk about   how crazy it is that people used to gather in  the village square to watch executions but have   no self-awareness about how insensitive  and re-traumatizing true crime content   can be to the victim's loved ones." other than the  morality argument, there is the monetary argument   people condemn content creators who make a profit  off of these horrible crimes, especially when   it comes to inserting sponsorships. "true  crime podcaster: and after he got into her house   you won't believe what happened. this is an ad for  our sponsor key door, to boost your home security  

enter code [law and order] for discount at checkout." even  outside of youtube and content creation as   a whole, commercialization has and continues to be  a discomforting concern. naomi barnes explains that   after the 19th century murders committed by jack  the ripper, "the fascination with the identity   of the mysterious killer never really ended." i mean  with the way we talk about SK's in the media, it's   really no surprise. why do we keep giving them  chad names? like girl if you don't call that man   bert the loser! belittle him! bruise his ego! F**k! in  its heyday, window seats were ticketed and sold to   those who wanted to overlook the places where bert  the losers victims were found. although that sounds  

like something we'd condemn today, it would be a  little hypocritical if we did. "a brief search on   the internet shows the abundance of walking tours,  ghost tours, pub crawls, maps for self-guided tours   and pages of articles dedicated to the new  and much contested jack the ripper museum in   london's east end." outside of that  infamous case, further commercialization of   tragedy can be found. "hangman tours offers a  90-minute walking tour of sites related to   jeffrey dahmer's hunting grounds in milwaukee  wisconsin," all for the low, low price of $25.   for five dollars more, "seattle's private eye tours  takes participants on a tour of several killing   sites, including those of the Wah Mee massacre, the  capitol hill massacre, and more." and these aren't   desolate, fly infested haunts the way you may think.  people go to these places. willingly. according to  

barnes, hundreds of people sign up for these  type of tours, with hundreds more traveling   long distances to get to them. citing a source by  gibson (2006), barnes notes that out of 140 criminal   cases surveyed by gibson, "84 have some form  of formalized tourism associated with it--cases   excluding the number of mass murder."  that means nearly 60 percent of gibson's sample has been   turned into entertainment ventures. the interest we  have in this genre, the unmistakable pull we have   to all that is morbid and mysterious, reveals  something about us--whether that be humanity's   rotting moral compass or a revitalization  of our empathy, we've yet to find out "the general audience of true crime is the average  person who has a fascination with the psychology   of people. it's not the brutal killings or assaults  we enjoy but seeing what people are made of." 

that is a quote pulled from one of my  toe submissions and it reveals one of the main   themes of true crime. the possible role psychology  plays in the consumption of it is a very popular   theory surrounding our fascination. people claim to  want to know what makes a killer do what they do   they want to know what leads to  the crime sprees or the rampages   as another subscriber states "as an individual on  the spectrum, i tend to not inherently understand   why people do what they do-- and it was doubly so  for criminals. true crime helped me question the   why and then by proxy begin to question people's  actions in general." this view point of   true crime as a way to understand others then may  be what shahed ebesh calls true crimes inherent   anthropological perspective. a great deal of the  theories pertaining to true crimes popularity   deals within this anthropological framework.  there's the usual theory that consuming this  

sort of content arms people--primarily women, who  are the largest demographic of true crime viewers--   arms them with the means to defend themselves in  case of violence. as isabel, a subscriber states   "i believe it was princess weekes who made an  excellent point in her video about true crime   documentaries. about how, and i'm paraphrasing  here, women are often drawn to this kind of   content because we're all too aware of everything  that can go wrong at the drop of a hat. so we watch   and listen and read about these stories to try  to be prepared in a way in case anything happens   to us." there's also the more legal aspect of things.  people argue that viewing true crime content helps   viewers pinpoint the systemic injustices of the  so-called justice system. though you can also argue  

from the other side that true crime upholds a lot  of systemic injustices, seeing as how a majority of   popular cases covered are of white, abled, cis women.  not that they don't deserve justice, because they   certainly do. but it speaks to the inequality of  coverage. there's even the possibility that true   crime coverage helps certain cases. from obtaining  evidence all the way to capturing fugitives. but   above all, i believe it's eric g. wilson who  explains true crime fascination the best   and it's through the lens of morbid curiosity.  in everyone loves a good train wreck:   why we can't look away, wilson seeks to  explain our preoccupation of suffering and   the significance of death-- glaring at it through  a lens of morbid curiosity. wilson opens the novel  

with a personal recounting of his top "don't look  moments" including the day the twin towers fell   a car crash he happened to witness, and a school  fight. despite the inherent 'don't lookness' of these   moments, wilson was compelled to keep watching.  he physically couldn't turn away. jack b haskins   defines morbid curiosity as "an enduring  and usually strong attraction to information   about highly unpleasant events and objects  that are irrelevant to the individual's life."  

this morbid curiosity--at least in the  ways we show it--is unique to the human experience   according to psychologist colin beer. "nothing  in the animal kingdom, not even the necromantic   behavior of elephants quite adds up to human  morbid curiosity in either content or intensity   of preoccupation." within the specific  theory of morbid curiosity that wilson proposes   resides many smaller interconnected theories.  think of morbid curiosity as the large mother   wolf spider and the following presentation  as its little babies scuttling about. just my hair. and if you have a spider phobia so  do i and i regret evoking that image in my head  

wilson cites edgar allen poe's the  imp of the perverse as one reason   behind our morbid curiosity. this is where  we stand on the edge of an abyss and peer in   despite growing sick and dizzy. even as we try to  pull ourselves away from the abyss, to try to save   ourselves from jumping, "there is no passion  in nature so demonically impatient as that of him,   who, shuddering upon the edge of a precipice, thus  meditates a plunge." there's also theories  

regarding the morbid nature of horror movies  and how they produce "a safe routinized   way of playing with death, like going to a roller  coaster or parachute jump at an amusement park."   of course true crime isn't comparable  to horror movies or amusement parks... if you want   to seem less morally compromised, that is. true  crime cases handle the trauma of real people with   real lives who possibly still have real families  seeing this content--all of whom we may never   meet or have to explain our fascination to. as  will h. rockett explains, morbid content like this   is fascinating in the first place because of the  "controlled trauma of the film experience."  

though it's not necessarily fictional as  most films tend to be, we often view true crime  content through extensions of entertainment: television, youtube, and spotify podcasts. what's   more is the fact that we're effectively distanced  not from the ideas presented in the content--so   we still get a thrill from it--but from the actions  taking place within the content itself, meaning we   aren't necessarily harmed by it. we read or listen  to these horrible crimes knowing that they're just   behind the screen. and this distance breeds comfort  for us and for us only because the same cannot be   said for those directly impacted by the crimes we  listen to. it's an extremely selfish indulgence but   still somehow human. wilson also posits theories  of catharsis, empathy, and the idea of the sublime   where scholars argue that death and morbidity  is larger than life and therefore hypnotizing in   its power. wilson also considers the possibility  of our own mortality becoming easier to contend  

with in the face of morbid content, as well as  the idea of catharsis achieved through justice.   wilson states "a notion of justice, the  satisfaction--often moral--of seeing rampant   evil officially captured and punished,"  is a big draw for true crime content. but what   if all of the apparent benefits and theories  surrounding true crime fascination is outweighed   by the potential harm it may cause? what do we  do if these arguments, as wilson fears, are just   wishful thinking? that we use these theories to  further support our quest to romanticize or even   sensationalize death? in that case, perhaps it's  not empathy or survival instincts that drive our   growing consumption of true crime content. perhaps  it's the unparalleled response it gives our body, 

the subsequent desensitization we acquire in the  face of increasingly gruesome demises, and the   allure of the taboo that really drives us. through  that lens, true crime is in the business of three   deaths: the death of the original victim that we so  flagrantly talk about, the death of their families   who may be impacted by this content, and the death  of our own critical engagement as all we begin to   care about is yet another story, yet another  thrill, and yet another way to gain notoriety. one of the biggest questions i have about  true crime content--of both the consumption   and the creation of it--is why? we've argued  catharsis, we've argued survival instincts   we've argued empathy and a quest for justice.  these are all very valid concerns in my   opinion. concerns that have the potential to be  addressed within the realm of true crime content   if true crime creators approach the subject  from a place of respect and humility. but even  

so, even if these aren't just wishful thinkings  as wilson fears, how do we contend with the damage   the genre causes? the damage that greatly depends  upon what emily m. danforth, in her fictional novel   plain bad heroines, refers to as "the call of  the sensational mixed with a macabre." please   don't misunderstand, there is a great deal of  true crime that perhaps violently fights for   the justice of victims. creators that donate a  portion of their ad sense or sponsorship money   to appropriate charities. creators that work  closely with the families of victims to get their  

loved one's story out there. and there are a great  deal of families who want the exposure associated   with true crime--who genuinely do feel that this  sort of content is important for the continued   second life of their loved one. but there is also  a part, and i'm not sure how big that part is...   is that a twilight reference? there's a part of  true crime content that may very well eclipse the   f*ck! some aspects of true crime have  murky intentions. and i believe that if   we continue to make excuses for it, if we refuse  to critically engage with the content we watch   or the reasons we watch that content, we're only  being complicit in the harm the genre as a whole   may cause. i've been trying to figure out  what non-viewers of true crime content see  

when they see the odd documentary or youtube  video pop up in their recommendations. what   is the most readily available theme apparent in  this content that can't be explained by catharsis   because they haven't watched the video yet or  survival instincts--for the same reason. or even   a quest for justice which sometimes doesn't  exist? what is the most obvious aspect of true   crime content today? the only way to gauge that  other than asking my subscribers was to interact   with content i've never seen before, to try and  dislodge myself from the comfort of the genre   and the rapport i've--parasocially, i admit--built  with my favorite creators. first i see the language.   it's often, but not always, salacious. it appeals to  that deep sense of morbid curiosity, that desire   to know more. "the wicked mother who killed her  own child," "world's most evil killers," "the monster..." uh

in all caps..."the MONSTER dad who did the  unthinkable." we use words like chilling, strange   twisted, and shocking thumbnails that feature blood  splatter, sometimes around a picture of the victim   eye-catching phrases, large, red arrows or circles  to draw in our attention. even if the only thing on   the screen is the thing being circled...i'm not sure  who would miss that. a youtuber named pinely made  

a great video on the subject of true crime and  morality, and he mentions how creators fine tune   these thumbnails until they become clickable. as  most creators on this hell site have to. but for   true crime content creators, it's a double-edged  sword because on one hand you can argue that these   creators need these videos to be clickable so that  the victim can get their rightful spotlight. it   just so happens that in order to gain attention, in  order for it to be clickable, true crime creators   have to play by the rules of youtube's annoying  ass algorithm. therefore they may end up making   insensitive or sensational choices in their  designing process. the same generally goes   for these sort of gimmicks that come along with  sensational true crime content--the mukbangs, the   applying of makeup. we have to be entertaining  at all times on this platform in order for  

our content to even be viewed, in order for the  algorithm to pick it up and show other people   with all of this in mind, the goal of these  videos doesn't seem to be catharsis or a   quest for justice--and certainly not empathy or  understanding for the victim. it seems like a grab   for your money, for your attention, and for  your engagement. this grab seems completely   at odds with the stated purpose of true crime  content. unless you start to think of the goal  

being the grab itself. in "real people keep getting  re-traumatized: the human cost of binge watching   true crime series," melissa chan documents the  realities of a select few families affected by   true crime content. a bulk of the article discusses  how it's not legally required for creators--   both independent ones on youtube and larger  corporations like netflix--to reach out to families   before making content about their deceased loved  one. for example, mindy pendleton, the stepmother  

of now deceased robert mast, notes how she and  others in the family begged netflix to drop the   episode they were producing about robert in 2019.  writing to the producers mindy stated "as a parent   a fellow human being, i beg you not to do this.  please do not do this." refusing to   heed her pleas, a year later netflix released the  docu-series anyways opening it with robert's story   or rather robert's killer story. chan notes how  much of the episode is dedicated to painting   his killer in a sympathetic light, often ignoring  robert's side at all. netflix allegedly claimed   that the goal of the series was to start  social discourse around violent crime. they  

also allegedly said that robert's family should  essentially be grateful--this is not a direct   quote, i'm paraphrasing. and i'm a little biased  in that paraphrasing because netflix f***ing   sucks--they allegedly implied that robert's  family should understand that if they, netflix,   didn't share robert's story another company would  and there's no telling how sensational it would   have been then. robert's stepmother mindy, however, disagrees. "i really don't feel that with the name   'i am a killer' you will be viewed by an audience wanting to seek social change and understand   violent crime. they are just looking for gruesome  details of murder." it calls back to mind   my earlier argument, the salacious, clickable titles  and thumbnails that pepper youtube. the grab   seems to be the goal. in truth, there are many  families that went through and continued to go  

through what the pendleton family has gone  through. the same has happened to rosalie clark   who stumbled upon a book detailing the murders of  her family in 2018 and teresa halbach's family who   stated that they were "saddened to learn that  individuals and corporations continue to create   entertainment and to seek profit from their loss." i think the aspect of true crime that   needs to be critically engaged with the most is  the inherent entertainment value it seems to hold   and how we completely ignore the reality behind it  in favor of personal gain. kevin balfe, the founder   of crime-con describes true crime content as "the  interest is that most stories represent what all   great stories have. there's a hero, there's a  villain, there's usually a mystery, there's often  

a traumatic event. there's usually a resolution." that's not a normal thing to say   about victims of traumatic events. if anything it's  closer to what fred murray stated when condemning   a reporter seeking to make a book about his  daughter's disappearance "what i think, he's   trying to do is create characters for a screenplay." we have become so desensitized to this  

content, so enamored by the narrative it presents  that we've begun to completely detach humanity   from everyone involved. from the victim, to their  family, to ourselves. as eric g. wilson explains   imagination can be used as a buffer between us  and the morbid things we consume. but too much   imagination can also cause harm. "the witness," in  this case being the true crime consumer "becomes   overly confident of his ability to understand an  event, morbid or otherwise. his conceptual arrogance   actually alienates him from the episode, puts him  at too great a distance. he can't see the trees  

because he's too engrossed in the forest."  wilson goes on to say that this selfishness  "is at work whenever we exploit the suffering  of another for our own pleasure, turn a person's   hurting into a commodity we consume for our  pleasure." so what do we do with the state   of the true crime community today? i was genuinely  curious to know how my viewers would alter true   crime content to make it the best tool it can be  to aid in the justice of others and the respect   for surviving loved ones. one subscriber states  "i would love to see a true crime content creator   discuss the history of mass incarceration,  inmates on death row who are falsely accused,   the forced sterilization of inmates and women's  prisons, and the vast amount of research available   about why people commit crimes in the first place.  they can center victims in their content or at   least reach out and ask permission to tell the  stories they do. they can reach out to experts in  

the criminal justice system like public defenders,  the innocence project, or the southern poverty law   center, in order to create better informed content. they can also talk about the individual rights a   person has if they get arrested or the rights  and role of a jury when someone is on trial   true crime can be an incredibly important source  of information for everyday people to understand   an aspect of our society that is deliberately  meant to be misunderstood." "the way that the   perpetrators are often vilified um it presents  this idea that, like, people who perpetuate violence   are bad people and that we need the police to  protect us from them and that those people got   that way because of mental illness or something  else that is presented as being totally divorced   from social circumstances um and i think, you  know, the true crime series really focus on   really violent and dramatic crimes and  the proliferation of this kind of media   that focuses on these really heinous really  dramatic and really violent crimes makes   it seem as if all criminality is like that  because that's the main media that we perceive   that deals with with wrongdoing and violence. but  the majority of people who are incarcerated are   victims of violence themselves and they experience  violence primarily in prisons and at the hands of   police and other institutional structures like  child protective services and things like that   and that's not really discussed in  true crime which i think is a real   missed opportunity." ellis states "i think there  are always going to be people who are going   to fetishize and treat true crime as a game,  so i guess maybe it doesn't need to be true?   i don't know, i'm thinking back to wrestling here,  where the point is that the violence is cleverly   orchestrated to be as painless as possible and  is all consensual, so maybe we just need to give   crime fiction a comeback and let people indulge  their wants for true crime in a safe environment."  

and finally a subscriber named days says "the  only way the true crime community would have   a less negative perception is by genuinely  detaching itself from fandom language or   fandom behaviors. the way some people in the  tcc engage with tc and discuss about it feels   like a fandom. and that would be fine but there  are actual lives getting hurt. i don't think it   helps anyone in completely not talking about true  crime, but more consideration and boundaries--legal   and moral--should be implemented when partaking in  the tcc as a creator and a consumer." some creators   that i think are doing awesome work in the genre  are kendall rae and danelle hallan. kendall does  

a lot of close work with victim's families and  she's also been known to reach out to families   to see if they were comfortable with her making  a video about their loved one. danelle has a more   informational spin um with her videos. i learned  about legislative efforts of affected families   donation sites, laws regarding crime and things  like that. if you just really want to take a step   back from true crime but you like fictional crime,  maybe murder mysteries, i also like stephanie soo's   bam... i also like stephanie soo's bam podcast.  she primarily talks about fictional murders   in books or movies or even television and  she presents them very well. in the end, i   don't think the condemnation of the genre as a  whole is entirely productive. despite the flaws  

the true crime community has, i do think it could  be a helpful tool utilized by families to spread   awareness of legislation, systemic hindrances,  and misconceptions about the justice system. it   just has to be done in a very intentional way.  we need to include the voices of marginalized   people...more than we're doing now. disabled people,  people of color, especially indigenous women, trans   people, queer people, and so forth. we need to stop  viewing them as story times or ghost stories or  

entertainment ventures. we need to remind ourselves  at every possible moment that these are real   people. people who led lives like us, who probably  went to school or hung out with their friends or   fell in love. and i think we truly need to ask  ourselves, creator and consumer, what if it was   us? if the self is the only way we'll ever try to  understand the other, what if it was our family   members? if our loved one's story was circulated  without our permission, without our desire for it   to be? if we had to listen to the story of our  loved ones being whispered about like gossip?   if we saw our loved one's name alongside  a click bait thumbnail, a sensationalized   title? if people laughed or made lighthearted jokes  surrounding the death of our family member, partner   or friend? would we accept the claims of 'wanting to  understand the killer's perspective' over 'wanting   to know more and to advocate for the victim'? will  we let people write off our discomfort as ruining   the fun or being too critical? would we continue  to uncritically consume this content, these large   docu-series, these exploitative books if it  was about someone we loved? i'm not asking for   anyone to stop watching the content. i'm not even  asking anyone to stop making the content. as ever  

i'm only asking for you to be critical in your  engagement and always lean toward teachability   thank you for watching. let me know your  thoughts down below, unless they're mean   i probably won't read them anyways. if you want  to check out all the cut scenes from this script   including a deeper insight into my own opinions  regarding some of the defensive theories, make sure   to check out my patreon linked in the description. thank you to my romeo and juliet tier patrons   for subscribing and thank you to everyone in  general for your support. and i will see you   two weeks from now with a video essay about  video essays! we've gone meta. love you, bye

2022-07-26 17:23

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