Tuesday, August 09, 2011

What’s Up with all the Serial Killers?

The other night at a dinner party, one of my friends asked why it is we’re all so fascinated with serial killers. After all, they’re evil. They’re twisted. They’re not anyone we would or should admire. We clearly are fascinated, however.. If there were as many serial killers out there as there are in books, on TV and in the movies, I don’t there would be many of us left.

I really didn’t have a ready answer as to why we’re so fascinated. There are a lot of theories about our fascination with serial killers. A lot of people refer to them as the rock stars of the homicide world and I suppose they do get a lot of news and media coverage, but I don’t think that’s it. I think they’re the rock stars because they fascinate us, not the other way around.

I read a few articles that posited a case that we are jealous of serial killers, of the boldness of their actions, of their willingness to do what we only think about doing. This worried a whole more about the people writing those articles than it did even about serial killers. Jealous? I don’t think so. Revolted by? More likely.

I think what fascinates me about serial killers is how easily they seem to live among us. The idea that such incredible evil might be lurking underneath the too polite exterior of the guy in the house down the street is both terrifying and mesmerizing. We all know the cliché. He was so quiet. He kept to himself. I have neighbors like that. Are there bodies in their basements?

As an author, I always want to understand people’s hidden lives. I don’t think there’s too much more hidden than the inner life of a serial killer. What is it about serial killers that fascinates you?


Maureen McGowan said...

I'm worried about the people who think we're jealous, too.
I'm not sure what it is... but it's not a new thing, right? I'm thinking Jack the Ripper and I'm sure there were more before that. In some ways the villains in fairy tales or epic poems are serial killer like.
Maybe we're fascinated for the same reason we like scary movies and stories? A strange (but safe as long as it's not us) thrill?

Molly O'Keefe said...

Jealous? that is disturbing - I can generally dislike people but never do I want to chop them up.

I think it's the horror among us. the secrets that people can keep in plain sight - and that someone can be so deviant, so totally evil, and still manage to keep thier shit together at the grocery store or post office or wherever they put on thier normalcy.

ever since reading ROOM i've gone over to this friend's house and her neighbor "Such a weird guy, really so strange." (those are my friend's words) has this very strange shack in the back yard with a heavy duty door....

Eileen said...

The people who mentioned jealousy really creeped me out. It's disturbing to think that there are serial killers out there, to think that there would be more if they thought they could get away with it? Eesh!!!

I have to say that since writing Vanished in the Night, I'm really shying away from serial killer stuff. Writing that book did a serious number on my head.

So, Molly, have you gone over and knocked on the shed door?

Anonymous said...

That is bizarre. I think the whole serial killer thing is a puzzle, why would they, how could they accept it afterwards, what made them that way. That's why I find them interesting.

Eileen said...

The what made them that way is particularly fascinating to me. How does a mind get twisted into that particular shape?

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time thinking about them at all - not my thing - I prefer to be happy! :)

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