Library Dissertation Showcase

Making a celebrity: an analysis of the representation of serial killers as celebrities within ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, ‘Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile’, and ‘Mindhunter’

  • Year of Publication:
  • 2020

“Without doubt, serial killers, both real and fictional, fascinate us”
– (Amper, 2010: 15)

Every day, from every corner of the globe, we are bombarded with a constant stream of faces and names. Whilst some are viewed and forgotten instantly, others are remembered long after they disappear from the spotlight. The ways in which this material is brought to us has expanded exponentially since the emergence of printing, photography and film. The concept of fame has ballooned, the line between public achievement and private relations continuing to fade.

In this dissertation, I am looking at how elements of celebrity culture are ubiquitous within Hollywood serial killer narratives and digitally distributed programmes. My aim is to highlight the fading line between fame and notoriety. One factor driving this discussion is the status of the actors performing the roles. Anthony Hopkins achieved immense stardom following his performance as fictional killer Hannibal Lecter. Whilst casting Zac Efron, attractive and already highly visible, as Ted Bundy reinforces Bundy’s own prominence within celebrity culture. Casting a teen heartthrob as a hideous murderer helps emphasise the spell Bundy cast on countless women.

The serial killer is an aesthetic phenomenon, with the crimes of actual killers being framed, re-imagined and re-sold in a plethora of ways. In order to discuss this fusion of criminality and celebrity, it’s important to understand the concept of both serial murder and celebrity.

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