Sister of Jeffrey Dahmer Victim Speaks Out Against Netflix’s ‘Monster’
The true crime genre has been getting a lot more scrutiny lately, especially in terms of who it chooses to highlight in stories and how involved victims and survivors are. Currently, the Netflix show Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is getting some pushback for its casting and the POV it chooses, especially in light of comments from the sister of one of the victims.
Co-created by Ryan Murphy, starring Evan Peters, the series is told from the perspective of Dahmer’s victims, many of whom were men of color, which added to the reason why their deaths were often ignored. Of the five directors listed for the series, three of them are Black men, one is a Japanese American man, and one is a woman. The writers are queer people. So, in many ways, this is a different perspective on Dahmer than we’ve ever seen before.
At the same time, while Dahmer is a public figure, and the events of the trial and bloody case are public, it doesn’t meant that it doesn’t impact those who were actually involved. That representation behind the screen isn’t going to erase the fact that these families lost their sons, brothers, and friends.
Rita Isbell, who gave a victim impact statement during Dahmer’s 1992 trial, shared her feelings on seeing herself portrayed on the show in such a direct way.
“When I saw some of the show, it bothered me,” Isabell says. “Especially when I saw myself—when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said. If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.”
She went on to make it clear that she was “never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it.”
But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid.
I could even understand it if they gave some of the money to the victims’ children. Not necessarily their families. I mean, I’m old. I’m very, very comfortable. But the victims have children and grandchildren. If the show benefited them in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless.
It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed.
The episode with me was the only part I saw. I didn’t watch the whole show. I don’t need to watch it. I lived it. I know exactly what happened(via Insider)
It is difficult to figure out the line between informative and exploitative when it comes to true crime. The sad reality is that if events are part of the public record, anyone can adapt them into something, with permission or not. And sometimes being an outsider is important to finding the truth, or at least exposing injustice, like with the Adnan Syed case, as flawed as that was at times, with Serial. But if we are going to say this is about getting justice for victims, or educating people, then maybe we should ask why the five films, multiple books, and previous TV series about Dahmer weren’t enough education.
(via Insider, featured image: Netflix)
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