Coinciding with the 30 year anniversary of Ted Bundy’s execution at the Florida State Prison is the release of Netflix’s original documentary, Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes. While the docu-series was very enlightening and provided much unknown information to the home audience, it also produced an unanticipated reaction; a glamorization of the serial killer.
While glamorizing such felons is not a new concept, no serial killer lends himself better to this phenomena as Theodore Robert Bundy.
The blue eyed killer used his good looks and natural charm to his benefit as he lured 30+ women to their early grave. His trusting demeanor and handsome outer shell that cloaked the darkness he hid so well beneath the surface made him the perfect celebrity criminal.
During Bundy’s trial young women would fill the bench behind him, not so secretly swooning over the accused. Many of these women who pined after him fit the profile of his prior victims perfectly; pretty young women in their twenties, dark hair parted in the middle. Being mere feet from a serial killer who raped, killed, ate, and even preformed necrophilia on his victims appeared to escape them, as it does many of the viewers of this new documentary.
While he sat on death row, one of the most influential pieces of media that contributed to Bundy’s portrayal as well as longevity in the public eye is the 1986 TV movie The Deliberate Stranger. The Deliberate Stranger starred Mark Harmon, a handsome sex icon in the 80’s with bright blue eyes, just as the convicted. Many women in the audience projected Harmon onto Bundy, and the convict’s incoming mail increased dramatically.
After Bundy’s execution in 1989 his celebrity status continued as he continued to be the focus of documentaries, movies, countless books, and pop culture. Time and jokes have appeared to desensitized the public from the atrocity of Bundy’s crimes, as well as the focus away from Bundy’s crimes and emphasis on him as a fascinating specimen, even sometimes the portrayal of victim himself.
Now, 30 years later, Ted’s story has re-emerged again in another movie; Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. Director Joe Berlinger casted modern day heartthrob Zac Efron as the notorious killer. As Harmon enforced the media’s fascination and rose tinted portrayal of the serial killer, Efron’s Bundy appears to be doing the same in the newly released trailer.
It’s doubtful a more handsome actor to portray the killer could have been found. As a result a whole new generation will be introduced to the criminal from the tainted Hollywood view where he will be glamorized once again.
It was said in the Netflix documentary, Ted Bundy acted as if he was sitting down for his own celebrity biography while journalist Stephen Michaud recorded him. Three decades following Bundy’s execution it appears even in death he has achieved the fame he always sought after in life.