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Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer Show Re-Traumatizes Victims’ Families and Viewers

Dahmer poster courtesy of MPAA

Netflix’s Jeffrey Dahmer Show Re-Traumatizes Victims’ Families and Viewers

By Movieguide® Staff

The family of one of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer’s victim’s says the new Netflix show is profiting off their pain and is re-traumatizing those who lived through it.

“It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy. That’s just greed,” says Rita Isbell, sister of Erroll Lindsey. “The episode with me was the only part I saw. I didn’t watch the whole show. I don’t need to watch it. I lived it. I know exactly what happened.”

DAHMER – MONSTER: THE JEFFREY DAHMER STORY dropped on Netflix earlier this month, and stars Evan Peters in a hyperviolent, hyper grotesque retelling from the hands of AMERICAN HORROR STORY Producer Ryan Murphy.

Murphy is known for taking significant liberties in his productions, using shock to entice viewers.

For the families of Dahmer’s victims, this is unacceptable.

“I’m not telling anyone what to watch, I know true crime media is huge rn, but if you’re actually curious about the victims, my family (the Isbell’s) are pissed about this show,” says Eric Perry, who identifies himself as Lindsey’s cousin. “It’s retraumatizing over and over again, and for what? How many movies/shows/documentaries do we need?”

Both members of the family state that no one notified their family was about to be exploited yet again for the sake of entertainment.

Isbell writes:

When I saw some of the show, it bothered me, especially when I saw myself — when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said. 

If I didn’t know any better, I would’ve thought it was me. Her hair was like mine, she had on the same clothes. That’s why it felt like reliving it all over again. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then.

I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it.

Even mainstream critics know the show is done in poor taste.

“Reducing most of the victims and their families to their pain is closer to exploiting that pain than honoring any memories.” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

DAHMER is a pathetic reflection of society’s insatiable appetite for pursuing darker entertainment. When left unchecked, studios will delve into painful, exploitive, hyper violence.

As Movieguide® Founder and Publisher Dr. Ted Baehr wrote in his book, The Culture-Wise Family, “Violence can have a demonic, pornographic appeal. The Roman Empire featured spectacles of live violence. Gladiators fought to the death, Christians were fed to lions and all manner horrible killing was offered as entertainment to a stadium full of spectators. This same demonic taste can be fed with movies, videos, games, and online content. It is, in fact, a stage into which many people addicted to pornography sink. What may start out as simple sexual attraction devolves into darker and darker pits of hell.”

Baehr continues:

Scientific evidence strongly indicates a connection between television violence and violence in the real world. The cumulative effect of all these studies indicates a statistically significant connection between watching violence on television and behaving aggressively. These studies have prompted the American Medical Association, The American Psychiatric Association, The American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association for the Education of Young Children and many other organizations to issue policy statements condemning violence in the media.

The tide turns

Research that did more than any other to turn the tide of opinion, especially in the press, was the aforementioned 30-year study of Dr. Brandon Centerwall. A NEW YORK TIMES editorial reporting on this study concluded that “much of TV violence may serve the needs of the entertainment industry, (therefore) it fully warrants treatment as an issue for public health and social policy, and a special challenge for parents.”

It can be so easy to let darkness fill your heart if you do not pursue the Light.

At Movieguide®, we’ve proven for decades that shows like Dahmer do not succeed. They may spike in viewership, but ultimately, viewers want to watch edifying content that leaves them feeling inspired.

“We don’t make movies, but we do work diligently with those who do. We work toward the day when movies that honor God fill the international box office top ten. We do speak out about highly offensive movies and programs, but our focus, and delight, is to instruct and encourage. Our passion is to leave a better world for everyone’s children and grandchildren,” Baehr says. “We realize that media shapes culture. We work to shape media, not as much by waging war on ugliness as by creating opportunities for beauty, and for God’s Truth.”

In order to redeem Hollywood, Baehr suggests:

Today you stand in the great entertainment train terminal. There are some trains headed to pornography, violence and just disbelief. There are other trains headed toward more of the kingdom of Heaven on earth. At the ticket booth, you get to purchase tickets for yourself and your family.

If you buy tickets to the good, the true and the beautiful, you help leave a better world for your children and grandchildren. If you look at the crowds boarding the trains to vulgarity, violence and illicit sex and get curious, you may wind up on a train you regret boarding. As country singer Josh Turner crooned in his classic country gospel song about 20 years ago, that’s a “long black train.” You can run down the aisle back toward the station, you can even get off the train in the middle of a movie or show, but you bought the ticket. You voted for more Hell on earth.

Whatever choice you make, or have made, God loves you. He’s in the redemption business. He wants you on the right train. He wants more of the right trains in the station. He wants lots of the right trains offered in your local theaters and on your streaming service.

At any moment, you can reject the bad and choose the good. At any moment, you can help make a difference in Hollywood, not just with good choices, but by supporting efforts like those of the Christian Film & Television Commission® to encourage many more wonderful entertainment choices for the whole world.

Stand against the narratives like DAHMER that harm families over and over, and instead choose the Good, the Pure, the True, and the Beautiful.

Now more than ever we’re bombarded by darkness in media, movies, and TV. Movieguide® has fought back for almost 40 years, working within Hollywood to propel uplifting and positive content. We’re proud to say we’ve collaborated with some of the top industry players to influence and redeem entertainment for Jesus. Still, the most influential person in Hollywood is you. The viewer.

What you listen to, watch, and read has power. Movieguide® wants to give you the resources to empower the good and the beautiful. But we can’t do it alone. We need your support.

You can make a difference with as little as $7. It takes only a moment. If you can, consider supporting our ministry with a monthly gift. Thank you.

Movieguide® is a 501c3 and all donations are tax deductible.

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