For decades, serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Jeffree Dahmer and Charles Manson have fascinated the minds of many people, but some take their interest in true crime too far.
Obsessed people often find themselves on Tumblr in a “True Crime Community,” an online space made up of mainly women who venerate killers and school shooters.
They show their obsession by creating collages of serial killer pictures in typical Tumblr style: pictures of them juxtaposed with flower crowns and transparent stickers that say “fab,” “okay wow” and other sayings that definitely do not go with men who murdered, raped, and hurt so many innocent people. These collages were very popular back in 2014-15, and this fandom has only grown and moved across different social media platforms over the years. It has recently invaded Tik Tok, with point of view videos where someone pretends to “kill” the viewer.
Last year, as reported by Kelly Weill in The Daily Beast, Brein Basarich, under the taking-lives username, was calling mass murderer Dylann Roof “precious” and threatened to kill bystanders at a club or bar – a public place she described as having a single entrance and exit. She was arrested following her threats, along with two other serial killer fans from Ohio. This proves how some don’t think of these people as criminals, but as heroes and rockstars; it shows that this extreme obsession is dangerous and harmful.
It has to end, for the sake of safety.
If you think that this is awful and not very normal or healthy, you’re not wrong. In fact, this sort of behaviour is known as hybristophilia, which is described as an “attraction to those who commit crimes,” according to the APA Dictionary of Psychology. This philia often pushes women specifically to reach out to incarcerated criminals – it is more common in women than men, according to Mark D. Griffiths on Psychology Today.
Fan mail was sent quite often to Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Jeffree Dahmer and Richard Ramirez, who were all famous killers during the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
There are two types of hybristophilia: passive and aggressive. Passive hybristophiliacs excuse the horrifying acts that the killer committed, believing that they can change those criminals, and that they would never hurt them despite being murderers. People who exhibit this type of hybristophilia often don’t have any desire to commit crimes. Aggressive hybristophiliacs are likely to commit horrendous acts along with their criminal significant other, who often manipulate them.
One of the biggest issues with this twisted admiration for criminals is that hybristophiliacs forget lives were taken and destroyed as a result of those crimes. Sexualizing these monsters disrespects victims and their mourning families. Family members suffer enough following the loss of someone they love and deserve better than seeing people discrediting the wickedness of these men, and sexualizing them.
No, random person on tumblr, you can’t help someone who wants to kill another human being, unless you’re a psychologist, which I doubt you are.
Next time, before sexualizing a serial killer, remember all of the lives they took and how many people they hurt during their lifetime. There’s a reason they went to jail and it wasn’t to receive your love letters.
Feature graphic by @sundaeghost