I have a ton of obsessions — an obsession with lip chap, an obsession with recycling, an obsession with traveling, with being right (kidding) and an obsession with true crime. What is it about serial killers that fascinates huge swaths of the population? What really happened to JonBenét Ramsay? Where is Madeleine McCann? Did Michael Peterson really push his wife down the stairs?
Turn on Investigation Discovery (ID) channel and you’ll find any number of TV series about true crime. A&E, Discovery Channel, TLC and O are all in competition to rule over the true crime audience. It’s pretty safe to say if I’m not watching something to do with traveling all over South East Asia I’m watching or listening to true crime.
I listen influential podcasts such as True Crime Garage, True Crime All the Time, True Crime All The Time Unsolved, Dark Poutine, Someone Knows Something, The Vanished and Dr. Death. If I’m cleaning the house I listen to podcasts or I have old episodes of Criminal Minds or Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda. The books I read are mainly true crime related and I’m also addicted to the Alex Cross series by James Patterson. No kidding, I fall asleep listening to true crime podcasts or YouTube videos, I’m honestly surprised that my dreams are not more bizarre, I mean I fall asleep to podcasts dedicated to hashing out the gruesome details of various crime scenes – wth?
I’ve been obsessed with true crime for as long as I can remember. Long before the huge influx of arm chair detectives, podcasts and Netflix originals. Way back in the day when A&E was just a budding channel and I’d watch Unsolved Mysteries or Bill Curtis on Investigative Reports and Cold Case Files. In my teens I’d watch Dateline NBC, 48 Hours and 20/20 over most other shows and if I wasn’t home on Friday or Saturday night to watch it live, I’d set the VCR (yes, I’m that old).
Come to think of it, I have an episode of True Crime Garage on as I write this (ep 246 Delphi Murders – Off The Record – see link below).
So what’s the draw to true crime shows? Are people just are fascinated with death, and that’s why true-crime shows are so popular with the public?
An article I read in Psychology Today states that “The public is drawn to serial killers because they trigger the most basic and powerful emotion in all of us”. I’d agree with that. Scott A. Bonn Ph.D. goes on to state that “as a source of popular-culture entertainment, serial killers allow us to experience fear and horror in a controlled environment, where the threat is exciting, but not real”. Still why are we are a society obsessed with murder and true crime documents/dramas? Are we obsessed with the gory details of these slayings? What compels us to want to dwell inside the mind of a killer?
I don’t think I’m so much “obsessed” with murder as much as I’m interested what goes on during the police investigation, in the courtroom and whether or not there is justice or injustice there.
In A Psychiatrist Explains What Your True Crime Obsession REALLY Says About YouDr. Packer says, “People get relief from knowing that they are not the ones that lost control of their impulses. And I think that’s a tremendous appeal.” Lea suggests that the “next time you sit down to watch Making a Murderer, know that the show is not actually making you a murderer, it’s simply making you feel quite relieved that you’re NOT one”. Excellent point Lea! Excellent point, indeed!