On Wednesday, it was announced that yet another former teen heartthrob has leapt at the opportunity to play against type by portraying notorious serial killer Ted Bundy. This time it’s Chad Michael Murray, who will reportedly play Bundy in the forthcoming American Boogeyman, which “follows the elusive and charming killer and the manhunt that brought him to justice involving the detective and the FBI rookie who coined the phrase ‘serial killer.'”
This, of course, follows Zac Efron’s turn as Bundy in 2019’s Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile — not to mention all the other Bundy films we’ve been subjected to in recent years, including 2008’s Bundy: An American Icon, 2004’s The Riverman, 2003’s The Stranger Beside Me, 2002’s Ted Bundy and 1986’s The Deliberate Stranger. As many on Twitter pointed out after the news of Murray’s casting in American Boogeyman, too many movies glamorize the serial killer by painting him as “handsome” and “charming” and exploiting the brutal, horrific deaths of the more than 30 women and girls he raped and murdered.
“Ted Bundy is such a fascinatedly divisive character and is the true personification of evil,” Voltage Pictures President and COO Jonathan Deckter said in a statement about the upcoming film. “Murray is so talented and expertly captures Bundy’s charm and seductive nature, traits that the notorious killer exploited to win the trust of his victims as well as society.”
For whatever reason, Hollywood gets off on glamorizing Bundy more than any other serial killer — perhaps because he didn’t look or behave like the stereotypical creepy weirdos we’d expect to carry out a series of murders. But he was still a creepy weirdo! What can possibly be “divisive” about “the true personification of evil” other than the fact that some people are cool with romanticizing him — not to mention giving him the notoriety he craved — for profit while others (rightly) find it to be disgusting?
Furthermore, Bundy didn’t “seduce” his victims; he pretended to be injured and in need of help and then attacked them, and in some cases he broke into their bedrooms at night and murdered them in their sleep. He was a vile monster who kept the bodies of some of his victims as trophies and engaged in necrophilia with them until they started to decompose. Some of his victims were as young as 12. Why do we need another movie painting him as some sexy bad boy who was irresistible to women?
Whenever there’s a mass shooting or an act of terrorism, we’re conditioned to not focus on the killers, to forget their names, and instead remember the victims. The understanding is that we do so to avoid “rewarding” those who commit heinous murders by giving them fame and notoriety. Why, then, do we grant Bundy, a man who raped, mutilated and murdered at least 30 women, an exception to the rule?
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