Converting misery and trauma is always one of the challenges that historical re-enactments face. For many, blood or poverty on screen can become almost “pornographic”; because some part of the public usually finds a strange pleasure in seeing the tragedy of others.
the new series Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, titled for Latin America as DAHMER, premiered on Netflix last week and the criticism against it has not stopped. For part of the public and critics, the series “humanizes” the murderer of history and the relatives of victims have come out to speak saying that seeing this production has revitalized many traumas that were muted.
The series chronicles the crimes of the notorious ‘Milwaukee Cannibal’, a man responsible for the murder of 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991. His crimes involved dismemberment, necrophilia and cannibalism, acts that are graphically exposed in the show.
Eric Perry, cousin of victim Errol Lindsey, wrote a thread about it on Twitter. “I don’t tell anyone what to watch. I know true crime shows are hot, but if you’re really curious about the victims I have to tell you that my family and I are mad at this show. It is bringing trauma to us over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?” he wrote.
In subsequent tweets, Perry continued to talk about her feelings about the series. “Netflix does not notify families when they do this. It’s all public record, so you don’t have to notify (or pay!) anyone. My family found out when everyone else did,” she revealed.
“So, when they say they are doing this ‘with respect for the victims’ or ‘honoring the dignity of the families’ it is a lie; no one contacts us. My cousins woke up to a ton of calls and texts knowing there’s another Dahmer show. It’s cruel,” he said.
Different cultural portals and magazines have subscribed to the nuisance denounced by this relative. For example, cultural writer Jan Cheney wrote for vulture a column where he emphasizes that these productions should focus mainly on making a portrait of solidarity with the victims and not make a fetish about the crimes of a murderer and all his atrocities.
For Cheney, in the second half of the series he finds a little more responsibility on the part of the production team, as there are episodes in which he talks about how there were warnings from civilians that Dahmer could be a murderer.
“But the first five of the ten episodes, bouncing awkwardly back and forth throughout the timeline of Jeffrey’s childhood and adulthood, have already established that Jeffrey, played by Evan Peters, is the figure center of the series. Even the title of the series suggests where the lens will most often be pointed,” Cheney wrote, indignantly.
Stuart Heritage, journalist from Guardian, was very forceful with his review about it. For this writer, the series should focus on how Dahmer took other people’s lives and not glorify his crimes.
“Worst of all, to some extent, is the choice of program focus. By showing the murdered so graphically, a legacy is being robbed from the people, from their families. That superficiality of the series makes a human being simply become a photo and a name on a list of victims; his entire existence remains limited only by how he died.”
Netflix has not issued any statement referring specifically to his situation, but the leading actor Evan Peters has tried to get out of the criticism.
Defending the program, in a video posted on networks, the interpreter said: “We had a rule that came from director Ryan Murphy: that it would never be told from Dahmer’s point of view. Is named The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, but it’s not just him and his backstory – it’s the repercussions, it’s how society and our system failed to stop him multiple times because of racism and homophobia. This is just a tragic story,” he expressed.
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