Is Ted Bundy Over Sexualized? A Review of Netflix’s Ted Bundy Tapes

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Monsters, Boogeymen, abominations of mankind. These are various names we use to describe serial killers. A way to explain how a human being can do such awful things. But what about a serial killer who appears charming, charismatic, educated, and attractive? If you’ve ever heard anything about American serial killer Theodore Robert “Ted” Bundy, you’ve probably heard him described with these words. Bundy killed 30 women between 1974 and 1978, and he got away with it for that long because no one was suspicious of the clean-cut law student who worked on Republican campaigns. However, when discussing Ted Bundy, it is important to remember the horrible person he was, and the atrocities he committed. It’s important to remember his victims and their families. From Karen Sparks (18) to Kimberly Diane Leach (12), Bundy was a monster, and deserves to be remembered as such.

When I heard of the new docu-series on Netflix, “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Files,” I was intrigued because I am obsessed with true crime. Then I started reading about how the show fetishizes Bundy and makes him seem sexy and intriguing, rather than a horrifying monster. I decided to watch the show for myself to see if this was true. Overall, I don’t think the show does this, but I can understand why some viewers perceived it that way.

The show opens up with interviews of how charming, well-versed, and attractive Bundy was. It shows him in law school, working at the suicide hotline, and working on Governor Daniel J. Evans re-election campaign. Then, it shows pictures of the decomposed skeletons of his victims. It talks about the horrible things Bundy did, and the sociopath he was. The stark contrast totally throws you off, and honestly, almost made me lose my lunch (You might want to avoid eating while watching this show). The series consists of real tapes recorded by journalist Hugh Aynesworth, interviews from the victims families, (and the one woman who survived an attack from Bundy) and newsreels from the trial and before he was apprehended. It’s a very well-researched documentary, and the primary sources tell the story for you. Its both captivating and informative.

Image from Wikipedia Commons

I think people felt this series was fetishizing Ted Bundy, because it features real news coverage from the time, and the news media at the time fetishized him. Similar to how the media today portrays white mass shooters as “lost” or “mentally ill,” Bundy was never described as the monster he truly was until he was convicted after the Chi Omega trial. The actual creators of the series do their best to show what a killer Bundy was, but the primary resources don’t share the same goal.

Overall, the series is fantastic. I really enjoyed watching it, and learned things about the case that I didn’t know before. The docu-series tells the story of Ted Bundy truthfully without fetishizing him, and pays homage to the victims of his crimes. If you like true crime, you’ll love this documentary.

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  1. You make a really good point. I actually saw another TV special on the Ted Bundy murders, where I felt the dramatizations of the murders somewhat fetishized Bundy. There’s a huge difference between the way secondary sources, such as dramatizations, paint a character, and how primary sources do. To make an accurate documentary you have to include primary sources, and the people back then couldn’t wrap their heads around how a serial killer could be so charming and vicious at the same time. That moment in history was sensational, and so he was sensationalized. But if the rest of the documentary emphasized the atrocity of his crimes–especially through the contrasting images you described–then he’s getting what he deserves. Which is less than nothing.

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