The dangers of the success of the series on Jeffrey Dahmer: costumes, parties and jokes to glorify a monster

Platforms like eBay have already banned the sale of Jeffrey Dahmer costumes for Halloween as the families of the victims watch their grief mix with humiliation.

Serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer (Milwaukee, 1960 – Portage, 1994) caused such an impact on American public opinion, his crimes were so heinous, that long before Dahmer (Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story) – the series created by Ryan Murphy for Netflix that does not leave the list of featured content on the platform a month after its premiere in September–, fiction had already noticed it.

The dangers of the success of the series on Jeffrey Dahmer: costumes, parties and jokes to glorify a monster
Jeffrey Lionel Dahmer (May 21, 1960 – November 28, 1994) was an American serial killer, who murdered 17 men between 1978 and 1991 (with the majority of the murders occurring between 1989 and 1991). His murders were particularly gruesome, involving rape, necrophilia and cannibalism. With evidence overwhelmingly against him, Dahmer pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity. The court found Dahmer sane and guilty on 15 counts of murder and sentenced him to 15 life terms, totalling 957 years in prison. On November 28, 1994, Dahmer and another inmate were beaten to death by fellow inmate Christopher Scarver with a bar from a weight machine while on work detail in the prison gym. Dahmer died from severe head trauma in the ambulance while en route to the hospital.

Just months after Dahmer was arrested and accused of the murder of 17 men (with whom he later practiced necrophilia and cannibalism), the Los Angeles-based Iranian author Reza Abdoh premiered in 1991 the work The Law of Remains . ), which spoke of a murderer named Jeffrey, obviously inspired by Dahmer. In 1993, the first film about his life, The Secret Life: Jeffrey Dahmer , was released, a documentary about his trial was broadcast on television, and the cannibal himself was interviewed on the Inside Edition programof the American network CBS (Dahmer was a gold mine for criminologists and fans of the dark for his willingness to speak without frills, justification or pity about his crimes or himself).

In 1995, a year after dying in prison at the hands of an inmate, the thriller Copycat elevated him as one of the great monsters of the 20th century in the United States. The protagonist, Sigourney Weaver, named him along with Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy or the Boston Strangler in the middle of an investigation. Time did not need to put a halo of fascination and rest over him: Dahmer was a myth of evil from the very moment his name appeared in the media.

More than 30 years later, the fascination with Dahmer has been revived by a series divided among some glowing reviews (“everything is practically unbearable in Dahmer , because the viewer is both inside and outside the killer’s head, as in the Capote’s classic [In cold blood] , but going further, much further”, wrote Laura Fernández in EL PAÍS ) and the understandable furious reactions of, at least, the sister of one of the victims , who considers that her enormous pain it has been converted into entertainment, aesthetics and spectacle.

In the middle of that dichotomy are, as always, the spectators. And many of them have approached Dahmer like someone who approaches Money Heist or The Squid Game : seeing a simple phenomenon and, on Halloween, the possibility of a great costume.

“There are several factors that influence the fascination that this type of serial killer has on the public,” explains Luis Borrás Roca, a psychiatrist specializing in Legal and Forensic Medicine and author of the book Spanish Serial Killers (JM Bosch, 2002). “The main reason is the fear of death, the idea that we ourselves can be a victim of someone similar. 

We feel identified with his victims and that leads us to try to understand the motives of his aggressor”. The specialist also points out that Dahmer’s case is especially unusual: a sadistic, fetishist, necrophiliac and cannibalistic serial killer, and it is also a case very close in time. “ Jack the Ripper, for example, was someone with a similar sadism, but we see him today as someone far away in time”.