Yes, you are weird for wanting to see pictures of young Ted Bundy
All of your internet privileges are taken away forever, you’ve ruined it
Recently, thanks to the release of the Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix and the upcoming film 'Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile' (starring Zac Efron, and we'll get to that), there's been an upsurge of interest in the serial killer.
Whilst it's human nature to be interested in true crime, since we (hopefully) can't even imagine the level to which someone would have to descend to commit some of the world's worst crimes, this hyper-sexualised, almost hysterical interest in Bundy's looks and charisma is – and I cannot overstate this enough – extremely weird and troubling.
I guess to some people he was objectively attractive? Maybe? But, I don't know about you, but once I know that someone raped and murdered over 30 innocent women, I sort of lose any tingly feelings I had towards them.
Part of the problem is the film's casting, which in my opinion is ill-advised anyway – by all accounts, Bundy would have absolutely loved that he's being played by an ex-Disney teen heart-throb. Must we compound this by perving over actual pictures of him, most of which were taken after he committed crimes so bad Wikipedia won't detail most of them?
It's a proven psychological theory that most serial killers kill for attention or notoriety (see the amount of grandstanding they do in court). Nowadays, when heinous crimes like school shootings occur, the perpetrators are not the focus of the coverage: their images and likenesses are not shared as widely as the impact their hideous behaviour has caused. The same should apply here: why should a man who broke every moral code our society possesses receive the adulation and interest of that same society when his victims are destined to be forgotten, merely broken props in the story of one man's murderous misogyny?
I've seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy’s alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service — almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers
— Netflix US (@netflix) January 28, 2019
The uncomfortable truth in all of this is that the same hysteria followed Bundy's trial. Young women would sob in the court audiences at the thought that he was going to be executed, the irony being that he had just brutally mutilated and killed dozens of women just like them. In fact, his perceived attractiveness and charm led to the delay of his capture (and therefore the deaths of more women) as police couldn't believe that a "clean cut law student" would be capable of what he did.
Even after his arrest, he was allowed liberties not usually permitted to prisoners on account of his legal training, which led to him escaping twice and committing more murders – many have posited that it was his innate privilege as a conventionally attractive white middle-class male which enabled a significant portion of his attacks. He used his charisma and charm to attract his victims (one of whom was only 12 years old) and it's for that reason that glorifying him as "sexy" is so deeply disturbing. Even the judge who sentenced him to death called his execution "an utter tragedy" and told him he felt "no animosity towards (him)".
Let me make it clear: Ted Bundy was an able-bodied, middle-class, conventionally attractive, white, cisgender male, and as such in the society we live in the bar was incredibly low.
He was also someone whose true victim count has never been discovered, who tortured, raped, and murdered at least thirty women and girls, who abducted children, who then had sex with their (sometimes decapitated) bodies. He bargained with the location of those bodies to save his own neck and kept their heads as trophies, even burning one in his girlfriend's fireplace. He is not someone to keep as a pinup, and articles telling you it's "perfectly ok" to keep looking at photos of him are not only harmful to our perceptions of guilt and masculinity, but actively hurtful to those poor girls – and let us remember they were just girls – and their families, most of whom are still alive.
Cover image taken from Zac Efron's Instagram; overlay author's own.