From true crime television shows, to true crime podcasts, to true crime television shows about true crime podcasts, there’s no shortage of true crime content. But with so many passionate fandoms and no shortage of creators in the mix, there are bound to be some “advocates” not serving the victims or their family members. That’s why those of us in the true crime community need to make sure to treat these stories — and the real people involved — with the care and respect they deserve.
I try to immerse myself in as many aspects of true crime as I can. Each day, I carve out time to help investigate the unsolved homicide of an attractive woman from my hometown, all in the selfless pursuit of finding a break in the case. I’ll pore over video and transcripts looking for minor inconsistencies across the tearful interviews given by surviving friends and family, inviting them over social media to explain these discrepancies. Her father has still yet to explain why he referred to Dillingham Way as Dillingham Street when recalling the last place he saw his daughter alive. And more recently, he blocked me on Twitter altogether, which I find highly suspicious…
It’s such a sad story though; she was so young and beautiful and female and white, making it all the more tragic.
I’m also dismayed by how often producers use their platform to glamorize perpetrators. Just the other day, a new series about a serial killer went on gushing about the subject’s charm, good looks, and success in his chosen field of murder. To counteract this, I try to humanize the victims of these senseless yet nonetheless very fascinating crimes. I’ll ask myself questions like, did they have any hopes and dreams of their own? Say, to become a teacher, or a veterinarian, or perhaps someone that did not get murdered?
This genre has enriched my life so much that I’ve begun to further contribute by launching my very own true crime podcast. I’ll send you a link to check it out, but for now just imagine a bed of ominous royalty-free music with my voice overlaid as I read Wikipedia articles verbatim about cool and vicious cases with the gory details overembellished.
The focus is on cold cases to start. Those are great because you can string them out into a bunch of episodes depending on how many avenues you explore. Maybe even a spin-off show or feature deal if you corner the market on an exciting open investigation. And if you’re lucky enough to crack a case you can really strike it big with lucrative book deals and speaking tours and merch tables. Providing closure for the families would also be nice.
Please do subscribe though because I’m really hoping to break into the top 100,000 shows on the true crime charts.
For audiences, these programs also serve as beneficial guides for teaching you practical ways to protect yourself. For example, I now carry my keys between my knuckles while walking to my car at night. I also pay the equivalent of a small mortgage each month for a top-of-the-line SimpliSafe security system. To get from my bed to the bathroom I have to navigate through a matrix of Mission Impossible-style lasers, but you can’t put a price on safety. If you’d like, my show can hook you up with 10% off an excessive alarm setup of your own using the coupon code SCARED.
If you don’t think you have time in your schedule to check out any true crime shows, you can follow my lead and watch or listen right before bed. Just set the sleep timer as you drift off. I tend to have vivid, horrifying dreams of gruesome violence, each instance more terrifying than the last, permanently etched into my mind as a harbinger of my own demise, but I’m pretty sure that’s because of my melatonin usage. I should really wean myself off that stuff.
Hopefully this inspires you to get involved with true crime yourself. If you find any good new titles, do send them my way! Ideally, your recommendations will follow a traditional three-arc narrative structure with little to no ad breaks, featuring a compelling and sexy subject whose real life trauma wasn’t a total snoozefest.
Now go enjoy some titillating tales! (Respectfully, of course.)
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Dave Powers’ work can be seen in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Points in Case, Slackjaw, and other publications. Learn more at Dave Powers’ website.