The Immortilization of Trauma in Western Media


Roxanne M., Co-Editor-in-Chief

In September, two pieces of media came out that only further showed the use of trauma for profit in Western media. These pieces were Blonde, a biopic that discusses the life of Hollywood icon Marilyn Monroe, and Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which is also a biopic but depicts the life of serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. These two pieces of entertainment have received a lot of backlash, as both utilize the trauma of others in order to gain profit and award buzz. However, these are not the first to do so; western media has a history of constantly using trauma in order to get money and awards, which leads to the immortalization of trauma and evil in our culture. 

One source of trauma in Western media is the capitalization of female trauma. Marilyn Monroe is a prime example of a woman who cannot rest; even sixty years after her death, Monroe is still a prevalent topic in modern culture. The constant sexualization and fetishization of her image have continued even after her death, showing that a woman cannot escape this abuse, even when she dies. The new movie on her life, Blonde, is based on a fictional story of the same title, which was written by author Joyce Carol Oates. Thus, the events in the story are not even fact, but rather fiction. Moreover, the film’s star, Ana de Armas, states that the film should be perceived as feminist when in reality it is nothing of the sort. The film is very explicit and has detailed imagery of rape and abortion, and the film is through the eyes of the men whose abuse impacted Marilyn in the movie. This movie is not a truthful story–it does not come from Marilyn herself. In truth, no one actually knows the events of Monroe’s life, and to present a fantasy to the world that details abuse and sexual assault in order to make a profit shows the corruption of morals within Hollywood.

A further source of trauma is the immortalization of serial killers in the media. There have been many documentaries made on serial killers, which detail what happened and how people’s mental state contributed to their nature. We are often told that serial killers are born that way; they cannot escape who they are. There is no justification for people taking innocent lives; why are we constantly giving these killers a platform, a redemption story where people can empathize with them? Moreover, biopics that detail the lives of serial killers have become more prominent in the media as well. However, when biopics about serial killers are made, they often capitalize off of the trauma of the victims, creating a brutal story in order to gain a reaction from the audience. This proves true with the release of Dahmer-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, a new Netflix series that dives into the lives of the victims of Jeffrey Dahmer, and how Dahmer killed them each. This series was done without the consent of the victim’s families, which only retraumatized them and the communities where the killings happened. The Dahmer series is another example of how Hollywood exploits the horrid experiences of real people in order to gain profit. 

These are real people with real stories. Their abuse should not be immortalized in the media for entertainment and money. Hollywood is a corrupt industry; no one’s story should be fetishized and used in order for others to advance and gain profit.



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