Plagued by the violent acts of notorious serial killer Ted Bundy, the ’70s were a troubling time for the United States. With the release of Netflix’s new docu-series “Conversations with a Killer: the Ted Bundy Tapes” (2018), his full story is now being told.
Ted Bundy was a serial killer known for his good looks and charm, which helped him carry out the murder of more than 30 women. Bundy was, by society’s view at the time, a “normal” person, and few would have suspected him until his arrests. After being caught, tried and found guilty, Bundy was executed in 1989.
Netflix released the new documentary series January 2019. The four-part series features footage and audio of Ted Bundy while he was imprisoned as well as interviews with people who discuss the effects of his crimes.
Joe Berlinger, director of the Netflix series, is also directing a Bundy movie called “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile,” set to be released at the end of the year. Zac Efron will take on the role of the infamous serial killer with actress Lily Collins playing his girlfriend, Elizabeth Kloepfer. The movie will be shown from her point of view as she must face the truth about who her boyfriend really is.
Dr. Anne-Marie Larsen, professor of psychology at California Baptist University, said people are fascinated by serial killers doing horrendous crimes because they are incomprehensible for most of the population.
“People are interested in understanding why people do what they do,” Larsen said. “What made this person this way? With Ted Bundy, why now, not before? Serial killers always had a following of sorts. There is an interest in it because it is so abhorrent and different. Ted Bundy himself did not fit the ‘creepy guy’ stereotype. I read a lot about Ted Bundy; some of the documentary series was surprising and some was inconsistent with what I read.”
Elizabeth Lacatus, senior liberal studies major, said what surprised her the most about the documentary was Bundy himself and how far police have come in investigating crimes.
“I began to watch it because people kept recommending it and it blew up all over social media. The show is fascinating, and the biggest thing is that Bundy was extremely normal. He showed no signs of his evil,” Lacatus said. “The series does a good job of showing all sides, and it is amazing to see how far law enforcement and technology has come since then.”
There have been many serial killer documentaries created, and someone always asks the same question: Is the film romanticizing the serial killer in question? Most documentaries do not focus on the killings or victims, just the killer.
Allison Strandberg, junior psychology major, said she disagrees with how the media portrays serial killers.
“I think they are trying to romanticize Ted Bundy and other serial killers by portraying them as injured victims with a bad past. They are able to generate sympathy and fascination with the audience and I do not know if it is a good thing,” Strandberg said. “These Ted Bundy documentaries make more money thrilling audiences and making the shows more dramatic than educational.”
However, many people took to social media to declare their attraction to the murderer. People’s romanticization of Bundy went so far that the official Netflix account tweeted, “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 (streaming) service — almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers.”
Although most CBU students were not even born during Bundy’s time, they do know his name because of his vile crimes. The series gives viewers a look into the crimes Bundy committed, tries to get a better picture of why he did it, and conversations Bundy held while he was imprisoned.
In early February, Netflix announced it acquired the rights to the upcoming movie in which viewers can witness and get a sense of who Bundy was. Even though society has become more desensitized by the violence in the world, there are now more platforms for people of all ages to get a better understanding of how killers, such as Bundy, shake the entire nation with their crimes.