Upcoming film causes controversy over potential romanticizing of a killer

By Danielle Rice ||Layout Assistant

Photo courtesy of consequenceofsound.net.

When the trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile launched, people were shocked by the decision to cast beloved High School Musical star Zac Efron as notorious, ruthless serial killer Ted Bundy. Although Zac Efron shouldn’t be limited by his previous roles, people need to be cognizant of how his presence in a film will be perceived and the audience that he will attract. Because of Efron’s looks and cult following of enamored women, Ted Bundy’s character can quickly shift from unsuspecting killer to charming, sexy “bad boy.”

The trailer seemed to lack the seriousness and sensitivity that this topic deserves. With upbeat background music, Efron is seen ripping open Lily Collin’s shirt. Bundy was clearly portrayed in an overly-charming way, practically smiling and winking throughout the entire trailer. It could be that the trailer doesn’t accurately represent the movie, but these scenes suggest a certain amount of romanticism of Bundy – and not much else. A Daily Beast article by Kevin Fallon, who saw the film at the Sundance Film Festival, wrote that the film fails to offer “insight into Bundy and his psyche aside from his narcissistic desire for attention, and talent for grabbing it.”

Serial-killer movies have been around for a long time, and they continue to be released because of their contemporary popularity. Whether this stems from a curiosity about the psychology behind these killers or the law enforcement processes for catching them, these movies can easily end up glamorizing the killers unless they are done carefully. The trailer for this upcoming film suggests that this movie seems to lack the depth or angle necessary to eliminate the romanticising of a serial killer. This, paired with Zac Efron’s overt attractiveness, makes for a glamorized Ted Bundy.

The fascination with serial-killer movies leads to a deeper issue in our society: the sensationalism of violence. The more violence we see in movies and television, the less it starts to affect us. When we watch something on a screen, we become spectators and tend to be unphased by what we see; we simply sit back and watch for entertainment. We need to be conscious viewers, critical of what we are watching and maintain the sense of empathy and ethical standards that we carry with us  in the real world. In this case, we can be mindful of Ted Bundy’s real victims – the over 30 women that Ted Bundy brutally raped and killed – and the kind of person he actually was. He is not a character to lust after, but an example of real-world violence to be wary of.

Movies put forth a message or lesson to the public. It’s unclear what the creators of Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile had intended, but we can watch it with a critical eye and try to glean a lesson from it. This is what Kathy Kleiner Rubin, survivor of a Ted Bundy attack, said she wanted for the movie in an interview with TMZ. Rubin expressed that, “hopefully [the film] will make women be more aware of their surroundings and be cautious” of tactics used by predators, an important lesson for women everywhere.

Freshman Danielle Rice is a Layout Assistant. Her email is drice1@fandm.edu.


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