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With every new true crime documentary release, there seems to be more and more people becoming obsessed with understanding criminals. The more twisted the stories are, the more intrigued viewers are watching the events unfold.
This has gotten to a point where Netflix had to release a public statement urging fans to stop sexualizing infamous serial killer Ted Bundy. Portrayed by heartthrob Zac Efron, the charming villain quickly gained the attention of Netflix viewers across the globe. But Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is just one of many documentaries that has cultivated an obsession with murder.
Universally, people love true crime documentaries—no matter what the crime was or who the actors are. It doesn’t matter whether the crime occurred centuries ago or weeks ago, fans will forever tune in to the latest cinematic production. So what is it about these films that gains so much attention?
The added fear factor of realism
Unlike most horror films, true crime documentaries portray situations that can and did happen to average people. Traditional scary movies feature mythical creatures and monsters that terrorize the characters. True crime documentaries feature real criminals that could be anywhere. As much as you may like to assure yourself that it could never happen to you, nearly 1.5 abductions occur within a home each hour.
For those who love the thrill, this added layer of realism makes the plot that much more horrific. The majority of the audience will walk away maybe slightly paranoid, but confident that their home and family will be safe and sound at night.
People like to know their risks.
On the other hand, maybe people like to know what could potentially happen to them to use it for their own good. The only way to prevent crime is to first know your risks. True crime documentaries bring to light some of the darkest situations in this world. In turn, it raises awareness so that perhaps one less person will fall victim to similar crimes in the future.
If you really think about it, your favorite horror movie may have made you lose substantial amounts of sleep at night. But it has also probably made you think twice about walking home alone or venturing down a dark alley.
It’s hard to look away from a train wreck.
Sometimes it’s hard to look away from things you know you shouldn’t be interested in. This is like looking at a car crash on the side of the road when you know you should just focus on the road ahead and reduce traffic. We feel a certain need to be informed, especially in a disastrous situation.
True crime documentaries are not all that different. The catastrophic situation catches your attention and sucks you in. Once you see one preview, you have to know the full details, no matter how horribly gruesome they may be.
It’s fun to play detective…
Television shows and movies have the remarkable ability to transport viewers to new worlds and mindsets from the comfort of their own couch. True crime documentaries do this by allowing the audience to play detective or psychologist in a time crunch to solve the mystery before the characters on screen. There’s nothing like the feeling of accomplishment of being the first to put the pieces together.
Ultimately, there’s no shame in loving true crime documentaries. Being obsessed with warped situations doesn’t make you a secret criminal. So when the next world-famous documentary releases highlighting some horrific tragedy - go ahead and watch it. Just know your realistic odds of becoming a victim of crime and how to protect yourself. This way you’ll never become a part of the statistic.