Why does the media glamorize serial killers? Some could argue the media glamorizes serial killers to make a profit by putting the graphic and disturbing story on the front page next to a big blood stained photograph to catch the reader’s eye. Others could say that journalists or media professionals may have hidden agendas such as becoming famous for breaking a murder mystery story. It is no secret that news reporters receive recognition and profit for focusing on violent criminal acts. For the case of Jack the Ripper, a multiple murder mystery was created and fabricated by the media to create hype around the story, but eventually resulted in fascination that still exists today.
Murder has been around for centuries but no one was interested in meeting a killer who slit someone’s throat in a dark London alley. However serial killers were an outcome of the industrial time and didn’t really happen until the late 18th century. Some argue the birth of serial killers was the result of a more modernized society. As the growth of newspapers, pamphlets, and then the television- the media became interested in serial killers and resulted in a societal interest. Of course Jack the Ripper is one of the most well known serial killers in history because he established a particular style of murder. He would lure east end London prostitutes by acting like an interested customer and then slit their throats all the way across, cut them open from the vagina to the breast and throw their guts over their right shoulder. What is vital to think about is the three way relationship between the killer, the media, and the audience.
Furthermore, society has become bombarded by images, for example, an average person is 3,500 ad messages a day according to Adbusters magazine. It is due to this image saturation that contributes to passive viewers of media messages. Furthermore, during the coming of age of literacy, the left brain thinking was more prominent but nowadays society is asked to think in terms of images. Today thinking in images or right brain thinking is predominated. As a result, the invention of television and visual mediums have sharply reversed left hemisphere dominance and increased the use of the right brain. In general, the left side of the brain is more rational and the right side is more creative and artistic. As Freud has pointed out, language and image are also situated in separate parts of the brain. Freud referred to primary (which is more image based) and secondary processes (which is more language based) are the two different levels a viewer interacts with the media. The primary process is more of a gut feeling, or an unconscious response, but the primary process is not able to learn from experience. On the other hand, the secondary response is more intellectual and takes a moral or logical response and can learn from experience since it’s based on language. Freud goes on to argue that once someone has learned a language the secondary processing takes over from the primary, but primary processing still happens unconsciously, like in dreams. Perhaps this can explain the desire to watch violence on television, because we can acknowledge the difference between good and evil at the logical/ verbal level but evil characters can still remain entertaining, interesting, or thrilling at the image/visual level. Unfortunately due to overexposure of violent images the audience is left as passive spectators and uncritical states of mind can result in boredom and create the urge to find new stimuli or the hunger for more gory violence.