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Ted Bundy tapes, Ted Bundy movie, Ted Bundy everywhere

Ted Bundy is more famous than those he killed.
Photo illustration: Alex Gomez · The Sentry

Shift the focus off a dead monster and onto the victims

On Jan. 24, 1989, serial killer Ted Bundy was strapped into the electric chair in Florida. Bundy was sent to “Ol’ Sparky” for the slayings of college students Lisa Levy and Margaret Bowman as well as 12-year-old Kimberly Leach. He was never tried for the other 27 women he confessed to murdering. Today, he is arguably more popular than ever before.

On Jan. 24, 2019, 30 years after his execution, his legacy lives on when both the trailer for the upcoming biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and Netflix original documentary series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes dropped on the same day.

The Netflix documentary features never-before-heard death row interviews with Bundy. In these audiotapes, Bundy described what happened to his victims entirely in the third person, as if he himself couldn’t rationalize his actions.

Most terrifying of all, Bundy sounds like a normal man. He sounds like someone who would go unnoticed on the bus or in a restaurant. He does not sound evil. Yet, this normal-seeming man ruined countless lives forever.

Thirty years seems to have put enough comfortable distance between audiences and the brutal murders to turn Bundy into more of an urban legend than a real person.

His portrayal in the biopic paints him as an anti-hero. Zac Efron, the film’s star, captures the charm and hints at the monster. The trailer only shows a single victim, as Bundy drags the unidentified woman into the forest. Instead of focusing on the brutal murders, the horrific rapes, and the lives of families that he ruined, this biopic’s Bundy is just a handsome and mysterious man.

In recent years, true crime fans have come out of the woodwork and started to make themselves known, serial killers being the crème de la crème of the genre. Hollywood production companies have learned that one of the quickest ways to turn a profit is to capitalize on this recent fascination. Combine one of Hollywood’s most romanticized actors with a serial killer, and a profit is nearly a guarantee. Within hours of the Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile trailer release, it trended on Twitter with over 4.4 million views.

The recent media frenzy surrounding Bundy seems to have forgotten a key piece of information. He was a serial killer. That means he bludgeoned women. He raped women. He killed women. He is not an anti-hero. He is a villain.

Ted Bundy does not deserve the recognition he has currently received. He does not deserve to be glamorized. He does not deserve to have his name in lights while he murdered an undeterminable amount of young women. The remembrance should be focused on the victims, not the offender.

There’s nothing wrong with enjoying the true crime genre, but both sides of the story need to be remembered. In Bundy’s case, it’s only his side. Remember that he is a monster. Remember the victims. 

Lynda Ann Healy. Donna Manson. Susan Rancourt. Roberta Parks. Brenda Ball. Georgann Hawkins. Janice Ott. Denise Naslund. Nancy Wilcox. Melissa Smith. Laura Aime. Debra Kent. Caryn Campbell. Julie Cunningham. Denise Oliverson. Lynette Culver. Susan Curtis. Margaret Bowman. Lisa Levy. Kimberly Leach.

These are only the women he confessed to killing. This is not the full list.

Think of them. Not him.

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