Why do Serial Killers Fascinate Us?

What is the obsession we have with serial killers? Well, maybe obsession is a strong word, but we, as a society, are perhaps overly interested them. Last night I watched the Zodiac film for the first time. Aside from being a good movie, I found the whole case fascinating.

Afterwards, my wife got online and started researching all of the serial killers in the world. She found that more than 50 serial killers are active in the country at any one time and, of course, because she was on the internet, she found out that most serial killers come from the Pacific Northwest.

Somebody once made a joke about the Green River killer living in a shed and then, of course, she found out that the Green River killer was real and did live in that shed–not really, but he is real. He’s in prison trying to claim more kills that he didn’t do to get more infamous than Ted Bundy. Speaking of Ted Bundy, we love that a sleazy guy in a sitcom is named Al Bundy (Married with Children) and we love watching movies like Silence of the Lambs where he makes a skin suit from plus size beauties. We are endlessly fascinated with Charlies Manson and his strange prophecies and weird antics. Our skin crawls at the tales of Jeffery Dahmer and his freezer and bathtub. In Katy Perry’s song Dark Horse they draw a comparison on “she’ll eat your heart out like Dahmer” or some horrible analogy. The list goes on.

Well, why is that? In the movie the Zodiac guy wanted a movie made of him, wanted promotional buttons that people would wear and otherwise wanted infamy. And dare I say, he got it.

Perhaps it is because the sane man or woman simply cannot fathom the depths of depravity such personalities have gone, or perhaps we just don’t understand that there isn’t a even a person there at all. Just a machine or an animal, but no soul, and we look in vain to understand how someone that looks like us, can destroy us.

Statistically, they don’t kill that many people. They kill a handful. Compare that with, oh, Hiroshima, and you see the disparity. Compare it with highway accident deaths in any given month and, well, then again. So, it’s not the number of victims that gets us, but the way its done.

The worst crime is murder. It is the worst crime because is takes away another individual’s right to play the game. I can almost envision these dedicated killers as some kind of urban decay, come up from the sewers to level out the playing field, a nightmare clothed in human flesh.

But really they are just men gone mad and if they have a soul left at all it must be so small and so very lost.