Why Do we Love True Crime?

Why Do we Love True Crime?

Alexander Chairez, Head of Diversity and Local Culture

If you are at all on the internet, you have most likely heard of “True Crime”. In case you haven’t, true crime is a genre of stories and media that are either based on or retell real-life crimes, often murders. It can come in a variety of forms, most common are podcasts, but biopics, novels, and tv series can be true crime as well.

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with liking true crime. It is a bit of a misconception that watching and liking true crime is due to malice. Although some people might watch it for a sort of dark thrill, the real reason most people watch it is because of curiosity. We are taught that people that kill are inherently bad and that murder is the worst thing a person can do, so with true crime, we can get a glimpse of what their mind is like.

Interestingly, Women watch more true crime than any other gender. This might seem shocking as murder and violence aren’t seen as “Feminine”, but a lot of studies show a reason why. Statistically speaking, the majority of violent crimes are committed against women, so one of the main reasons women watch a lot of true crime is to avoid it and understand why people attack them.

This is all fine and dandy, but true crime can also lead to negative effects as well. Most common is what happens due to watching thriller and horror media: including increased paranoia, anxiety, and insomnia. Too much of any disturbing or scary media can also increase depression, so knowing when to take a break is healthy. However, sometimes it goes further than just enjoying true crime. What happens and why does it happen when someone falls in love with a serial killer?

Hybristophilia is the attraction towards people who are outcasted from society, usually from crimes. This might sound ridiculous, but multiple serial killers have received hundreds of letters from women who wanted to marry them. Some even went the extra step and many of the killers have been married while in jail. Ted Bundy, Richard Ramierez, Angelo Buono, and The Hillside Strangler all have been married while in prison, their wives all knowing their crimes.

Why do people fall in love with serial killers? Well, psychologists believe there are 3 reasons. The first is that they think their love can somehow fix them. This is a joke online about liking bad people “Oh but I can fix him”, however, this is not a healthy way to have a relationship, minus the fact they’re talking about a literal killer, basing a dynamic on fixing someone is toxic. The second reason is the fame these killers get to attract people. Often it’s these big headlining serial killers who end up with hundreds of fangirls, not a small-time criminals. So, they aren’t attracted to the crimes or the person as much as the fame they got from said crimes. The last reason is that some people find the dark and violent actions done by these criminals comforting and attractive. Usually, these people have toxic upbringings and relate negative things to love, thus their attraction to killers is formed.

Although some people take it too far, enjoying true crime and stories about dark themes is not “insane”, but there is a risk of taking things too far. When it comes to stuff like this, remembering to step back is important.