*trigger warnings ahead*
I will admit, I have been a fan of all things macabre and strange starting from a young age. I have an early memory of late nights secretly watching Forensic Files with my dad when I couldn’t sleep and being enthralled by it. The idea of why people kill still fascinates me to this day, and I’m far from the only person with this interest. Over the years, the sheer amount of true crime media has exploded into the forefront of social media. This is extremely prevalent in the podcasting world, with hundreds of thousands of hours of the topic listened to regularly. Heck, there’s even a CrimeCon you can attend! I was definitely one of the people that was obsessed true crime podcasts, my favourite being the extremely popular My Favourite Murder. The host of the podcast, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, somehow seamless combine the horrifying with the hilarious. Some days I would listen to up to 5 episodes a day. Despite the often gruesome topics, it felt like a safe space to go back to time and time again. So when they slipped into a morally grey area, it really made me question whether this hobby I had was harmful and exploitative.
Karen & Georgia began doing live shows about a year into starting their podcast. After they each accounted a different true crime story to the audience, they would select one person from the audience to come on stage and tell their ‘Hometown Murder Story’: a murder that happened in their area that piqued their interest in in the topic. During one show, they brought up a woman who told a tale that included sexual assault. These people are not properly vetted, so the hosts didn’t know that the woman was the daughter of the police officer that worked that case, and the details were not supposed to be shared publicly. The live episode was posted to the internet, and the victim of the assault had to hear about it as though it were a story and not her reality. The victim, so bravely, wrote in and told her version of the story, and reminded the hosts and their listeners that the victims of true crime often do not receive the respect that they deserve.
This really put consuming true crime media into perspective for me. And after listening to an episode of the You’re Wrong About Podcast by Sarah Marshall, where Emma Berquist, a journalist and victim of a random stabbing, speak about the negative impacts of true crime on our mental health, it really sealed the deal for me. I looked back at the times I consumed the most true crime and realized that those were some of the worst periods of depression and anxiety for me. Maybe there was a correlation there.
True crime relies on our fear of the unknown, and really promotes the idea that every stranger could kill you, there is nothing good out there, always be watching your back, keep to yourself. These ideas are also important symptoms of many mental health disorders and can negatively feed into them. This is not a healthy way to live; as we’ve learned over the past few years; having a sense of community is an important part of the human experience.
Another issue is how often victim blaming is associated with true crime, as though the more of it you consume, the less likely you are to be attacked, or that people who were attacked would have ‘seen the red flags’ if they had been true crime fans. Some see that their obsession is in some way helping them, but actually, it is doing more harm then good.
All this information also seems to search for the ‘why’, but the truth is, there is really no answer as to why some people experience horrifying things like this and others do not. These experiences aren’t stories; there is often no happy ending to satisfy us.
I’m not saying you should stop watching shows like Forensic Files immediately, but I feel that we should see true crime media consumption as more of a guilty pleasure than education. It’s important to remember that the things that we love don’t have to have virtue for us to enjoy them.
Tell me what you guys are thinking on this topic! Are you a true crime fanatic, or does the topic turn you off?
Facebook & Twitter Posts
“[True crime] seems to search for the ‘why’, but the truth is, there is really no answer as to why some people experience horrifying things like this and others do not.” https://algonquincollegesocialmedia.wordpress.com/?p=119392
Is your #truecrime habit helping or harming you? Check out my thoughts here: https://bit.ly/pitfalls_of_truecrime