English Discussion

Whether or not you have a vested interest in the Public Safety profession, you have probably found yourself, at one point or another, engrossed by a particularly-lurid episode of Dateline or delighted by the edge-of-your-seat excitement in Netflix miniseries like Making a Murderer or When They See Us. This current trend of movies, television series, and podcasts based around real-life murderers and convictions has been dubbed the “true crime boom.” In CrimeReads‘s “True Crime Advice” column, author Tori Telfer explores this recent rash of programming that focuses on the darker sides of our society. Read “Is the ‘True Crime Boom’ a Real Thing?,” and then respond to the questions below to weigh in on the benefits and drawbacks of this “deathly” obsession. (Note: You do not need to read the author’s response to the following question about JonBenét Ramsey.)

  • Tori Telfer argues that America’s current obsession with true crime actually isn’t so new. What is one specific example that she provides to reinforce her claim that these interests and stories have been present in our society much earlier?
  • The author also claims that, in our everyday lives, we all exhibit a morbid curiosity about death and murder. What are some of the small ways, mentioned by the author, that we show this strange interest? (Consider the section that begins, “This is why pearl-clutching articles about the ‘true crime boom’ annoy me so much.”) Can you think of any other daily behaviors or attitudes that display our predilection for topics such as serial killers and wrongful convictions?
  • Telfer continues by arguing that current changes in media have also influenced this “boom.” What types of modern technologies, according to the author, have promoted the growth of true crime programming? Who specifically does the writer hold accountable for this production increase (i.e., the consumer or the creators)? Do you agree with her? Why or why not?
  • Lastly, do you watch true crime? Why or why not? Whether or not you enjoy these shows, explain why you think that America loves to hear about these disturbing tales.
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