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Ryan Murphy Says He Reached Out To Victims Families For Dahmer Research and No One Responded

Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story scribe and executive producer Ryan Murphy is finally speaking out after facing criticism over the controversial Netflix limited series.

Murphy says he reached out to the 20 victims families and friends during the three years it took for him to research and embellish on some of the events about the notorious serial killer.

Via Variety:

Murphy alluded to the controversy surrounding the hit Netflix show at an event at Los Angeles’ DGA Theatre on Thursday, saying the subject matter “is something that we researched for a very long time.”

“Over the course of the three, three and a half years when we were really writing it, working on it, we reached out to 20, around 20 of the victims’ families and friends, trying to get input, trying to talk to people, and not a single person responded to us in that process,” Murphy said. “So we relied very, very heavily on our incredible group of researchers who… I don’t even know how they found a lot of this stuff. But it was just like a night and day effort trying to uncover the truth of these people.”

Between 1978 and 1991, Dahmer gruesomely murdered 17 men. According to the show’s description, “Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is a series that exposes these unconscionable crimes, centered around the underserved victims and their communities impacted by the systemic racism and institutional failures of the police that allowed one of America’s most notorious serial killers to continue his murderous spree in plain sight for over a decade.” Despite the stated goal, the show has been criticized for the heavy focus on Dahmer’s horrifying behavior and framing of the victims’ stories.

“Something that we talked a lot in the making of it is we weren’t so much interested in Jeffrey Dahmer, the person, but what made him the monster that he became,” Murphy explained. “We talked a lot about that… and we talked about it all the time. It’s really about white privilege. It’s about systemic racism. It’s about homophobia.”

“We really want it to be about celebrating these victims,” Paris Barclay, who directed episodes six and 10, added. “When Tony writes ‘I won’t disappear’ on that last card, that’s what this show is about. It’s about making sure these people are not erased by history and that they have a place and that they’re recognized and that they were important and that they lived full lives. And they came from all sorts of different places, but they were real people.”

He continued, “They weren’t just numbers. They weren’t just pictures on billboards and telephone poles. They were real people with loving families, breathing, living, hoping. That’s what we wanted it to be about.”

However, several of the families of Dahmer’s victims have spoken out against the Netflix series for recreating their real-life trauma. Rita Isbell, whose brother Errol Lindsey was murdered by Dahmer in 1991, wrote in an essay for Insider revealing that the show “bothered” her, writing, “It’s sad that they’re just making money off of this tragedy.”

Isbell wrote: “I was never contacted about the show. I feel like Netflix should’ve asked if we mind or how we felt about making it. They didn’t ask me anything. They just did it. But I’m not money hungry, and that’s what this show is about, Netflix trying to get paid.”

Shirley Hughes, whose son Tony Hughes was also killed by Dahmer in 1991, told The Guardian, “I don’t see how they can do that. I don’t see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there.”

Ryan Murphy has even offered to fund a memorial for the victims, but Thomas M. Jacobson, the former Milwaukee attorney who represented eight of the victims’ families and fought to prevent the serial killer from profiting from his murders, feels Murphy’s statements regarding funding a memorial is too little, too late.

“The memorial contribution for the Dahmer victims by Ryan Murphy seems likes an afterthought,” Jacobson told TheWrap. “Milwaukee wanted Dahmer's memory to disappear so not wanting any remembrance of his mayhem in the community is a given.”

He offered the following alternative: “The only meaningful Dahmer victim family action on Murphy’s part would be a monetary consideration from the Netflix profits for their exploitation and continuing trauma.”

As a viewer of the series, I can empathize and understand the reason why they didn't respond. For the past three decades where there have been countless films and documentaries about Dahmer, the families and friends of the victims are probably sick and tired of having to relive the trauma.

I do feel the families deserve some kind of compensation, since the limited series was Netflix's second most watched series ever.

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