From "Love Bites" to Cannibals: How American Media Shaped the Cultural Acceptance of Serial Killers

Pearson, Elisabeth
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Throughout history, the fascination with true crime has been an ever-present theme. However, with the rise of media and nationwide news outlets in the twentieth century, true crime grew in not only popularity but in its social acceptance of criminals. How did the figure of popular serial killers emerge, and why were some men such as Ted Bundy able to achieve fame and recognition, while others never did? With changes to media such as the introduction of televised nationwide news, crime news was able to spread at a much more rapid pace. True crime spread to a national and, in some cases, international level, increasing its interest and intrigue. The fear of a new type of criminal brought not only public attention to their crimes but a new level of fear and attention. With a growing interest and understanding of the different minds and people at play in a serial killer case, some serial killers have been able to achieve an inordinate amount of fame and recognition from their crimes. What factors play into the captivation that some serial killers had over others and what role did the media play in their portrayals of these killers? While examining the use of media representation and its involvement in portraying specific serial killers, trends become clear with how and why they were launched into infamy. Whether it be public stereotypes or breaking of societal norms, serial killers and their apparent public appeal, have created a new category of who can achieve fame.
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