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Serial killers have always caused controversy. They have been talked about, feared, studied, and after their deaths, they have been remembered and memorialized in various forms of art. In pursuit of success and fame, movie and documentary directors attempt to promote their own narratives while depicting the gruesome and hideous murders and crimes of these killers. However, it appears that few consider the pain and suffering these “art forms” cause the families of serial killer victims. Almost every year, there are new media productions that put serial killers in the spotlight and depict their victims as sacrificial plot elements that are used to amuse and captivate the audience. Many of these directors did not attempt to ask whether the families consent to the depiction of the horrifying deaths of their loved ones being dramatized for entertainment and profit. However, the families are forced to relive that dark time and to be harassed by reporters and members of the public who are glorifying serial killers and dismissing victims as nothing more than one of the steps that a serial killer took to attain his new-found celebrity status. That is the harsh reality that many families now face when serial killer documentaries are produced without their knowledge and consent. The recent aggrandizing of serial killers at the expense of their victims and families, who must live through it, is not only morally unethical but legally culpable.

This post was originally published on the Cardozo Arts & Entertainment Law Journal website on November 29, 2022. The original post can be accessed via the Archived Link button above.