Let’s talk about Ted Bundy.
No, I don’t mean the genuinely evil serial killer and absolute monster of the 70s. I mean the shiny cute version played by Zac Efron.
Yes, I understand that it’s a movie, and yes, I get that being a movie the writers and directors can take a bit of creative liberty, but how much creative freedom are we willing to give to a film that seeks to retell the story of a monster in a “High School Musical” sort of way?
For those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet, the Netflix original “Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile” casts today's heartthrobs, Zac Efron and Lily Collins, as two star-crossed lovers separated by this pesky thing called the law. Efron plays a charismatic Ted Bundy while Collins plays Bundy’s love interest, and single mother, Liz Kendall.
At the beginning of the movie, we see Bundy and Kendall fall in love, in scenes where Bundy can do no wrong. He’s a father to Kendall’s daughter, he’s a rock when Kendall needs it. All in all, he’s portrayed as the perfect boyfriend. A man any woman would want.
But he isn’t. What the movie fails to portray is that while Bundy is snuggling up with Kendall, he’s also murdering women. Let’s get this part straight. Ted Bundy is guilty. There’s no doubt about it. He was an evil man who raped and massacred women. What I fail to understand is why the movie fails to show this.
Maybe it’s playing with some sort of hidden motive. Perhaps Netflix wanted the viewer to come away with a sense that evil can come in all shapes and sizes, no matter if they’re cute or not. But the movie fails at that. Instead, it shows Bundy in a favorable light with minimal repercussions. In fact, at points in the film, you even begin to think that Bundy may be innocent.
That’s where my problem lies. Ted Bundy, even before his execution, amassed a large number of fans across the nation who worship at his now dead feet. He was a serial killer. A man who confessed to over thirty cold-blooded murders, and yet because he was attractive and charismatic, women (and men) seemed to flock to him.
This movie does nothing to curtail those fans from Bundy’s defense. Even in his scene with Kendall at the prison days before his execution, the movie fails to give context to the real consequences of his actions.
Kendall repeatedly grills Bundy about how he killed a certain woman. While in the movie Bundy sort of confesses to severing the woman’s head by writing “hacksaw” on the window between the two, the movie fails to add that in real life, Bundy threw the dead woman’s head in Kendall’s fireplace without her knowledge.
This glossed over version of the real horrors of Bundy only serves to further glorify the man. I’ve seen posts on Twitter of women getting tattoos of Bundy’s teeth marks; there’s even a Pinterest board named “Ted Bundy Fans” with a tag line of “Welcome to Ted Bundy fans. Serial killer, Charming, Handsome and smart follow only if your A Ted Bundy fan.”
Personally, I think we can do better than paying worship to a serial killer, but that’s just my opinion.