Cannibalism isn’t cute: Hollywood is profiting from tragedy


Santi Leon Torres, Staff Writer

Evan Peters as Jeffrey Dahmer. Zach Efron as Ted Bundy. Timothee Chalamet as Lee in “Bones and All”. All of these actors have something in common, but one of them sticks out like a sore thumb: Timothee Chalamet. Although all of these actors portray serial killers, one important detail distinguishes Lee from the rest. What is it? The fact that Lee is an entirely fictional character, while every other character is a real-life monster.

It is no secret that Hollywood loves to cast the hottest, most-desired heart throb in their newest gore-filled, shock-factor blockbuster. But at what point do we draw the line? Have we become desensitized to violence and gore due to the media we choose to consume? To answer those questions, we need to question the reason behind the production of all of these movies in the first place. What motivates the productions of these movies is what motivates almost everything else in America: money. If these films weren’t bringing in cash for production studios, they simply would no longer be made.

Why are these movies so wildly successful? We’ve been fed these stories over and over through the news, podcasts, books, and even YouTube videos, so how can Hollywood further profit off of these mass tragedies? Hotties. Let’s compare two pieces of media that share the same name and subject matter, the 2002 movie “Dahmer”, and the 2022 Netflix series “Dahmer”. Although both pieces of media are similar in their content, 2002’s “Dahmer” performed adequately in the box office with a profit of $250,000, while the 2022 version was the most-watched show in the U.S.for weeks. It would be foolish to say that it wasn’t due, in part, to the fact that the 2022 series starred Evan Peters, a highly sought-after actor. Especially since Jeremy Renner, the lead for 2002’s “Dahmer” isn’t exactly what an average student might find attractive.

After the release of “Dahmer” this year, many young people took it upon themselves to make edits as a tribute, of sorts, to the show. One user even took the time to comment, “I’m so obsessed but I can’t be.” This isn’t your typical “bad boy” attraction— these are real people who murdered and even consumed other human beings. The obsessions over the show spiraled out of control when the families of the victims had to speak out about how greedy Netflix’s money grab really was. One of these people was Rita Isbel, sister to Errol Lindsey, who was one of Dahmer’s victims.

“If the show benefited [the families of his victims] in some way, it wouldn’t feel so harsh and careless. It’s sad that they’re just making money off this tragedy. That’s just greed,” Isbel said.

On top of that, the film released this year which stars not one, but two cannibals, “Bones and All,” was met with wildly varying reviews from critics and audiences alike. The problem with these movies isn’t the subject matter, the problem is that a lot of these films are based on real tragedies. “Bones and All” is completely different from the other films because it isn’t a blatant cash grab, profiting off of these killer’s victims, it is a completely new and original film. Although “Bones and All” is completely fictional, it’s still a cannibalistic romance film. Some might say that having a film where cannibalism is causally used as a plot point is problematic, but what makes it any different from other movies where couples commit acts of violence like “Bride of Chucky” and “Bonnie and Clyde”? If we take certain topics off the table, are we stifling film makers’ creativity?