Ted Bundy, the most diabolical killer ever known, has reemerged in headlines since the release of “Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes” on Netflix and the newly announced major motion picture adaptation starring Zac Efron. During the 1970s, Bundy stalked and preyed on females by luring them into his beige Volkswagen Bug, driving off into desolate areas, violently raping and suffocating many of them, then burying their lifeless bodies in the remote forest. While Bundy admitted to murdering over 30 women, investigators suggest that his victims exceed that of 50.
For an individual as wicked and vile as Bundy was, many individuals, to this day, characterize him as “charming” and “handsome.” The recent release of the trailer for Efron’s film “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile” has many individuals fantasizing about Efron as Bundy, from his charismatic persona to his charming looks, fans are quickly becoming obsessed. Such a film attempts to allow viewers to understand the intimate relationship between Bundy and real-life partner, Elizabeth Kleopfer, by showing audience members how Bundy effortlessly enticed females with his alluring demeanor and attractive appearance. However, rather than emphasizing the horrifying actions of Bundy, the trailer looks as it it were a 1970s rom-com.
This trailer engages the viewers’ desire to see Bundy as an attractive family man rather than as the true monster he has confessed to be. Such a focus on how “attractive” Bundy was distracts many from the fact that he was a cruel villain. After leaving his victims’ lifeless corpses to rot in the remote woods, Bundy would revisit his crimes by travelling back to these areas. At times he would bury another victim, and others he would relish in what he believed to be his glory. When he decided to not bury the bodies, he would bring the women’s corpses home and rape their lifeless bodies. This is the monster who defended himself in court, who took the lives of dozens of women. Yet, this is also the monster many individuals have been and are still charmed by due to his “handsome” looks.
The constant focus on Bundy’s looks, rather than his murderous actions, further invalidates the lives of his victims. While investigators and viewers continue to obsess over Bundy’s “boy-next-door” appearance, the families of the victims suffer from inexplicable devastation. Eleanor Rose, mother of victim Denise Naslund, now suffers from severe agoraphobia to the extent of where she cannot leave her house. Rhonda Stapley, survivor of Bundy, details her encounter with the serial killer and how his violent actions continue to haunt her decades later. It is disturbing to witness how the questionable “attractiveness” of Bundy continues to distract individuals from his demonic crimes and obscure them from remembering the names of his victims. Despite his execution on Jan. 24, 1989, Bundy continues to haunt his victims, and his ashes were spread across the infamous dumping site for many of the bodies.
The media’s constant attention to appearance and charm take away from the significance of each victim’s life. Therefore, it is with a heavy heart that I write to the deceased victims: may you rest in peace and, to the families and survivors, may you find peace.