The glorification of Jeffrey Dahmer


Matthew Centner, Chief Editor

When you hear the name Dahmer, your thoughts most likely drift to the Milwaukee-based murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17 men and boys in a 13 year span, cannibalizing the corpses of some of his victims. However, they could also drift to the Netflix documentary Conversations with a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, or the film My Friend Dahmer. It might even be the Netflix original series Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story that you think of, which has reached over half a billion viewing hours and has brought on a new wave of true crime addicts. 

Regardless of where your mind wanders to, since the release of Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer story, it’s impossible to go a day without hearing the name of the serial killer. The lines between the retelling of Dahmer’s crimes and the reality of the case are blurring, and it’s becoming a problem. 

This new wave of fame has led to the desensitization of the atrocities he committed. With over twenty pieces of media being published about him and his crimes, Dahmer has become immortalized. Regardless of the in-depth descriptions of the way he mutilated the bodies of 17 men and boys, true crime fans have become obsessed with him, coming up with justifications for his behavior. There are even people dressing up as him for Halloween right here in Wisconsin, where Dahmer committed most of his crimes. This is exactly what he would have wanted—and that is exactly why the constant media obsession with him is concerning.

After the release of Monster, aviator glasses, which Jeffrey Dahmer wore, exploded in popularity. They became so popular that the actual frames Dahmer wore went on sale for $150k on the website Cult Collectibles under the “Jeffrey Dahmer Collection.” 

It wasn’t just the frames that have been published under the collection – letters, baby pictures, and even his own urn is on sale, which is available for $250k. The urn doesn’t even contain the ashes—it just did at one point. Why anyone would buy any of these is beyond me, other than to show how edgy and quirky they are for owning what Dahmer had once possessed, which is not a great look. To own and proudly display the urn of the man who killed 17 people, most of them being queer people of color, would do more than just raise an eyebrow–the action would and should offend others, and perhaps that is the purpose of selling such items. 

Cult Collectibles, however, was not the only website to capitalize on Dahmer’s crimes. Several sellers on websites such as EBay sold aviator glasses for those looking to dress as the murderer for Halloween. Glasses sold for that explicit purpose have since been banned due to them violating EBay’s Violence and Violent Criminal Policy, which states, “Listings that promote or glorify violence or violent acts, or are associated with individuals who are notorious for committing violent acts, are not allowed.”

For Halloween, many websites sold packs containing glasses, a wig, and an orange jumpsuit for those who wanted to dress up as Dahmer. Some people even arranged their own costumes, with a couple of them going viral. Halloween is supposed to be a fun day, full of spooky stories, trick-or-treating, and stuffing your face full of candy. It is not supposed to retraumatize the families of those killed by serial killers, which is what has happened this year. 

The release of so many films, shows, and books about Jeffrey Dahmer has essentially brought him back from the dead, where he should remain for what he did to all of his victims. And yet, he is treated almost like a fictional character with the way people obsess over him, dissecting his crimes like he did to his corpses. However, Dahmer was a real person who lived in the real city of Milwaukee, who killed 17 real people. His mental health and internalized homophobia offer an explanation for why he did what he is famous for, but they are not excuses – nor should they be used as such. To defend him for those reasons makes the LGBT+ community and those with mental illnesses look poorly. The names of Dahmer’s victims are often forgotten when Dahmer is brought to light, so it is important to mention the 17 souls who have been so disrespected and dismissed since the release of Monster:

Steven Hicks. Steven Tuomi. Jamie Doxtator. Richard Guerrero. Anthony Sears. Raymond Smith. Edward W. Smith. Ernest Miller. David C. Thomas. Curtis Straughter. Errol Lindsey. Anthony “Tony” Hughes. Konerak Sinthasomphone. Matt Turner. Jeremiah Weinberger. Oliver Lacy. Joseph Bradehoft. 

These names are not just names. These were real people, with families and friends, with dreams and aspirations. These are the people who deserve sympathy – not Jeffrey Dahmer.