Book: Why We Love Serial Killers - The Curious Appeal of the World's Most Savage Murderers by Scott Bonncategories: Book, True Crime, Criminology, Popular Culture, Sociology, Psychology, Murder, Violence, Criminal Profiling, Serial Killers
Scott Bonnabout this book: This book is unique in its examination of serial killers as popular culture personalities. Unlike most other books on this subject, the primary focus of "Why We Love Serial Killers" is not on the crimes of serial killers. Much has already been written about that. Although this book offers many new insights into serial homicide and provides shocking facts and anecdotes for true crime enthusiasts, the really unique contributions of this work lie in explaining why serial killers fascinate so many people, and how and why serial killers are transformed into morbid popular culture personalities or "celebrity monsters," as I call them.
"Why We Love Serial Killers" offers insights into the dark side of society itself and its powerful appetite for the macabre. This book fills a niche by providing a new and penetrating look at the public's fascination with serial murder that is groundbreaking in its approach and conclusions.
I have always rooted for my favorite movie monsters to prevail although I knew they would not. Now, as a criminologist living in New York, I am fascinated by real-life serial killers. I study the crimes of infamous predators such as Jeffrey Dahmer and I have had the opportunity to actually meet and/or correspond with two of the most notorious serial killers of the twenty-first century—that is, David Berkowitz, the so-called Son of Sam and Dennis Rader, known by the moniker BTK which stands for "Bind, Torture, Kill."
My research for this book revealed that the public loves serial killers for a number of complex and interrelated reasons. First, they are rare in the business of murder with perhaps twenty-five or so operating at any given time in the U.S. They and their crimes are exotic and tantalizing to people much like traffic accidents and natural disasters. Serial killers are so extreme in their brutality and so seemingly unnatural in their behavior that people are drawn to them out of intense curiosity.
Second, they generally kill randomly, choosing victims based on personal attraction or random opportunities presented to them. This factor makes anyone a potential victim, even if the odds of ever encountering one are about the same as being attacked by a great white shark. Third, serial killers are prolific and insatiable, meaning that they kill many people over a period of years rather than killing one person in a single impulsive act, which is the typical pattern of murder in the U.S. Fourth, their behavior is seemingly inexplicable and without a coherent motive such as jealousy or rage. They are driven by inner demons that even they may not comprehend. Many people are morbidly drawn to the violence of serial killers because they cannot understand it and feel compelled to.
Fifth, they have a visceral appeal for the public similar to monster movies because they provide a euphoric adrenaline rush. Consequently, their atrocity tales in the news and entertainment media are addictive. Finally, they provide a conduit for the public's most primal feelings such as fear, lust and anger.
The serial killer represents a lurid, complex and compelling presence on the social landscape. There appears to be an innate human tendency to identify or empathize with all things—whether good or bad—including serial killers. To learn more you will have to read my book.
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