I’ve seen my fair share of movies and TV shows. During quarantine, I had a lot of time on my hands so I did the most productive thing I could think of – I watched a lot of movies. The newfound freedom brought joy to me. Having the time to stare at a screen for hours on end and the ability to fall in love with different stories. Watching so much TV in such little time somewhat turns you into a zombie. It then becomes challenging to decipher the morality of what is being done on screen. Some filmmakers do a great job of creating characters and writing a story for all to enjoy but it all comes down to how the message they want to make comes across to viewers. It has become normalized to see numerous topics being romanticized and even glorified because of how it is presented on the big screen and it does more harm than good.
People have forgotten how to act in public and it is starting to show. In movies and TV shows, we see gruesome topics through a romanticized lens. It has gotten to a point where people dress as REAL-life serial killers for Halloween without keeping in mind the victims and their family members. On September 21st, 2022, the Netflix limited series “Dahmer” was released. The series received its fair share of backlash from critics and viewers and its fair share of celebration. When the show was just released Netflix treated it like it was some sort of romance and even put it in the same category as the “LGBTQ” tag (as if it was a light watch) when in reality this was a man who raped and murdered numerous people in cold blood. Media tends to take plot ideas and run with them by romanticizing them for a quick buck without thinking about the true effects that this might have. These are real-life situations turned into entertainment. So many forget that these issues have affected people who are trying to live normal lives even though they might have been traumatized by the events portrayed in these shows.
This phenomenon can be a result of sensationalism. This means the use of language, style, or shocking or thrilling topics to pique the interest of the general public. According to the article, Hollywood’s New Sensationalism: The Power and the Gory, it states, “I can only guess at the underlying reasons for the new wave of sensationalism, but these movies are signs of a profoundly disturbed society. Torture is entertainment, and only disaster seems real”. It has gotten to a point where it is now normalized to talk about murder or death casually. I remember them having the biggest smile on their face while talking about something so gruesome. To say the least, I was in complete shock and it was somewhat sickening to see any sort of empathy on the person’s face but only enjoyment. It was a real situation, not fiction.
When someone is exposed to something for too long you inevitably become desensitized. This can happen with emotions without noticing. Emotions are what makes us human – everyone experiences them and everyone should. Even though happiness and excitement are emotions they aren’t the only ones we should have. There should be a time and place. In the article, Is Our True-Crime Obsession Doing More Harm Than Good?, it says, “A lot are about murder. Over the past few years, true crime — that once niche genre of storytelling that spins real-life crimes into entertainment — has become a national obsession”. People have been starting to find comfort in listening to and consuming media that is surrounded by murder. I mean how is murder comforting of all things? It is unhealthy and it is not good for anyone’s psyche to be hearing about such inhumane acts so frequently. If people get fully desensitized then when we be able to sense danger?
Some people might say that these films are informative and educational but this is not the way to go about it. An informative film leaves viewers less ignorant about a situation all while keeping it respectful. These forms of media romanticize films to make them more appealing to viewers so the accuracy flies out the window. The source is no longer accurate because of things the director has added which makes it no longer informative — it now becomes a drama series. When making these films with their wave of sensationalism, Hollywood cast the most attractive actors and they add perspectives that are not realistic. People can say that these films are educational but they are more unnecessary. If someone truly needs to know how a serial killer gets the job done (which is honestly concerning) a quick Google search would suffice. There should be no need for 10 episodes of going in-depth into these situations. They disregard victims and their family members and they are truly just disturbing.
Sensationalism is being used too frequently in cinema. Gruesome topics shouldn’t be a source of entertainment. These films shouldn’t be made since they cause more harm than good. There should be no need to showcase gruesome acts in a light that makes them look romanticized. It isn’t normal and it should not be normalized. We need to open our eyes and be realistic — torture is not entertainment and it should never be looked at in that light.