From Zac Efron to Chad Michael Murray – stop trying to make Ted Bundy sexy

Zac Efron, Ted Bundy and Chad Michael Murray.

For the love of god can we please stop romanticising serial killers by making sexy Hollywood depictions of their heinous crimes?

Once is fine, we have a morbid fascination and infatuation with true crime and the retelling of shocking events. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it’s a fact. Grief porn is a thing, whether we like it or not.

But with the news Chad Michael Murray – the 00s crush of many a Gen Y girl’s dreams – is the latest star to play horrendously demented serial killer Ted Bundy, only a couple of years after fellow teen crush Zac Efron did, it’s time we put a stop to all this ‘sexy Ted Bundy’ business.

He wasn’t sexy. He was a murderer who lured women to his car under the pretense he needed their help. He preyed on those who were weaker than him. He didn’t get them into his car because he was hot.

My big sigh today came when it was confirmed Chad – who starred as the dreamy love interest in films including Freaky Friday and A Cinderella Story as well as our bae in One Tree Hill – is the latest looker to play Bundy in American Boogeyman, which ‘follows the elusive and charming killer and the manhunt that brought him to justice involving the detective and the FBI rookie who coined the phrase “serial killer.”’

The film, from Daniel Farrands, will focus on those who caught Bundy, which, I suppose, is a nice change of pace from the Bundy-glory-heavy 2019 film Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac, which was based on Bundy’s personal life.

Even the term ‘boogeyman’ suggests it’s all make-believe, when really, Bundy was no boogeyman – he was a real dude who did some really effed-up stuff.

People seem to gloss over that and in the past two years alone, Netflix has released Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and Amazon Prime Video launched Ted Bundy: Falling for a Killer, in addition to the release of the Zac Efron movie.

Even if this isn’t told from Bundy’s perspective, why must we bring this man to life again?

We need to look at ourselves pretty hard when we keep pumping out these projects that humanise these very real killers and have viewers fawning over their equally real violent and atrocious acts in the name of entertainment.

There is a reason You is working on its third season, after women called for Penn Badgley to ‘kidnap’ them and lusted over his character Joe in the Netflix series.

That is a work of fiction though (however, I still don’t care for people wanting to date Joe. Joe is not a good guy), which is in stark contrast to the continued depiction of actual events, albeit one crucial edit – make the lead killer steamy AF.

I understand, when it comes to old mate Bundy, he was thought of as a charming fella, so that can’t be ignored by casting the hunchback of Notre Dame as the actor. He wasn’t a dreamboat though. There is a difference. And putting someone in that role that already has a pretty solid track record of being the man of our dreams perpetuates the idea these killers are, like, so hot in their infamy, man.

When people are lusting over Bundy and being all, ‘wow, Chad Michael Murray can tie me up any time’, what these films serve to do is minimise the deaths of very real women who lost their lives at the hand of a psychopath.

If you must make another film about these killers, why not cast an unknown actor? Or, even better, why not tell this story from the point of view of the victims, with the families’ support? Or of the women who survived and brought him down? Sadly, I already know the answer to that question and it rhymes with money. OK, it’s just money.

As one person so perfectly put it on Twitter: ‘Does his ghost have a publicist or something?’

Another subbed it up pretty spectacularly, by chiming in: ‘If society wanted to help me not have such a toxic taste in men, they’d stop casting Zac Efron and Chad Michael Murray as Ted Bundy.’

That’s the problem, isn’t it? I feel like we’re at a crossroads in history where we’re finally talking about the abuse many women suffer at the hands of men (so help me, don’t you ‘not all men’ me right now), we’re attempting to claw some semblance of autonomy over our bodies and shouting for the right to walk down the street and not die and BOOM that’s apparently the perfect time to remind us there was a time when women were being dragged into a sh*tty Beetle by a dude with a ‘broken arm’ so don’t get too comfortable there little lady.

OK, it might not be that deep, but now is not the time to paint Bundy as this swoon-worthy, quirky killer (again) and continue to reward his killer deeds with big-budget Hollywood retellings (again).

Let’s not keep rewarding such horrific crimes with a red carpet and round of applause and, perhaps more importantly, let’s not suggest to the copycat deadbeats out there that if you, too, kill a bunch of women you’ll be remembered in Hollywood for decades to come and be played by the one-time crush of the very people you terrorised.

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