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The Obsession with True Crime

By Lea Mercado
Web Content Contributor

What started as a small Mukbang channel has evolved into an entire true crime empire, as Youtube personality, Stephanie Soo, discusses real-life tragedies and cold cases with over two million viewers. 

I first came across Soo’s channel over a year ago during my sophomore year. I was immediately drawn in by her gentle and comedic delivery of harrowing realities. Now, I find myself recalling details of unsolved mysteries and various serial killer facts.

Despite the recent increase in popularity, I began worrying about being interested in the stories. What is so intriguing about the deep dark depths of true crime? 

The fascination has surged since podcasts have taken over streaming on major platforms such as iTunes and Spotify. Podcasts such as Rotten Mango and Crime Junkie pull in millions of listeners, and most of them are women. 

Spotify quickly realized this listener engagement trend and published an article in early 2020 discussing the various factors that cause women to be so intrigued by true crime podcasts. According to the report, the most significant driving factor is that women want to understand the killer’s psychology. It is believed that if the psychology of a killer could be understood, then there is a way to stay ahead of the crime and prevent ever being a victim. 

Another reason that true crime has become so popular is that it is finally widely accessible. Ever since Netflix released “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” viewers have only shown more of a demand for documentaries, and Netflix has been happy to meet it by featuring over 25 shows and movies. In contrast to 15 years ago when taboo subjects were confined to novels and biographies.  

True crime has not only become a part of pop culture, but the “crime junkie” community has grown and strengthened significantly. With so many like-minded individuals and riveting crime case details, some true crime fans have even gone on to solve crimes themselves, like in the Netflix docuseries, “Don’t F**k with Cats.” The series follows two Facebook group members who took it upon themselves to bring down a serial killer based on information from the internet. 

True crime podcasts are not just limited to discussing the crime itself; many of these storytellers explore various aspects of law, psychology, sociology and medicine. The true-crime genre covers a broad area of the criminal justice system. From the investigative interviews, forensics and the court battle, listeners engage with the story based on intense sympathy and pursuit for justice.  

Over time, I realized that my fascination does not revolve around a specific evil individual or the retelling of tragedies. Instead, I was interested in the community and research element of these stories. Humans are complex, and it is natural to want to understand the reason behind abnormal behavior. By doing so, that is how we create a more empathetic and well-educated social environment. 

That being said, there is only one final reminder to mentioned… favoring serial killers is still NOT okay!

Featured Image by Lea Mercado 

One thought on “The Obsession with True Crime

  1. I would counter that the obsession is with fictional and fictionalized crime.
    Learning about true crime is a beneficial pursuit.

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