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Content warning: domestic violence and murder. I am only including details that are 100% necessary in order to understand my feelings about this topic.
I dislike True Crime because of:
1) the way this genre can exploit the victims of violent crimes and re-traumatize their loved ones by sharing these stories without consent,
2) how some True Crime programs exaggerate or even make up details about certain cases to make them more interesting,
3) how some True Crime programs lionize murderers and abusers,
4) which victims are and are not discussed. That is to say, pretty, young, straight, white women are far more likely to be featured on them from what I’ve observed. It feels deeply wrong to me to overlook people from other races, sexual orientations, ages, sexes, etc. for these stories. The grief all of their families and friends feel is the same no matter what the victim looked like or how they identified.
Now to dig into a more personal reason why I avoid this genre.
Someone I attended high school with was murdered by her abusive ex (who was also a student at our school) in front of their small children a few years after graduation. He is still incarcerated so far as I know. Their kids survived and are safe with relatives now.
What happened to my classmate and her family was horrible. I think of her story every time I overhear discussions about this genre. I’m sure it feels like a harmless hobby for many fans, but a lot of True Crime stuff can take on a sinister tone if you have personal experiences with the topic and see how uninformed and unkind some folks can be about the cycle of abuse and how dangerous it is when a victim tries to leave.
I cringe when I hear people talk about what they would have done differently in certain cases or how they thought someone should behave when faced with a homicidal ex. It makes me feel like they’re dissecting a book or tv show instead of talking about the tragic deaths of innocent people who could have easily been any one of us instead.
If you’re going to consume this genre, please speak respectfully about the victims and be careful about the assumptions you make about what you would or would not do in their shoes. You may know far more people who have been through something similar than you think. Kindness and compassion are key.
There’s so much important work that can be done to reduce suffering in these situations. I wish the True Crime community would focus much more of their energy on crime prevention, assistance for victims of abuse and their loved ones, and honouring the dead in whatever ways they have the time and/or money to do so.
Wouldn’t it be a relief to live in a world where the True Crime genre comes to an end because there are no new murders for them to talk about?