As journalist Rachel Hampton told The Appeal’s Elon Green in 2020, true crime “instinctively justifies the justice system, and it creates long prison sentences that are something to be expected.”
The real crime may be based on reality, but it paints a picture of a fictional world, where every Uber driver is going to kill you, every co-worker is a secret killer, and the American continent is actually much more violent. (It’s probably not surprising that I recently heard a security ad during an episode of one of my favorite real crime podcasts.)
But the creators of true crime are responding to the needs of the audience – an audience of which I am a part. When I listen to a podcast of a real crime or read a book about the Manson family homicide, I listen for my enjoyment. The worst moment of man.
In my long run, or while I wait for the train, I listen to real crime podcasts with the titles “Serial Killer,” “Crime Junkie,” and “Medical Murder.” Works for my own entertainment. I want the crimes to be brutal, I want the case to be complicated, even the maze, and then I want to spend the day unplugging my headphones.
But for the families of people touched by this heinous crime, the story of what happened to their loved ones doesn’t really end there. In an interview with Time Magazine, Rosalie Clark, an Australian-based woman whose brother, stepfather and mother were brutally murdered in 2014, said: “We are treated as animal feed. We are the fuel of human fascination. “
In true crime, victims can go back into the background, and those who killed them are given precedence. Filmmakers make movies about serial killers and their victims – but we rarely see stories of the people who killed them: what their lives were like, what their dreams were for the future, the families they loved.
I asked Morrison how he was able to talk to people in their dark moments. He told me that when he was a young reporter, an editor asked him to interview the widow of a crossing guard who had died in a car crash. He came “dangerously” to resign. “The last thing I wanted to do on earth was to land on someone in his most miserable moment of grief and ask all these offensive questions.”