The Beast – Jeffrey Dahmer’s satirical, voyeuristic and morally bizarre story – The Irish Times

This week I watched a show showing an adorable kid with a bowl cut and glasses having adventures and getting into scratches in weird old America. Lil Jeffrey is a misfit and has a strange hobby he shares with his square-jawed father (knock-up, dissection, taxidermy) to the consternation of his UFO-obsessed mother. It has all the makings of a sitcom network.

Sadly, Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story is actually another prestigious series about a famous person from the good old days made by TV author Ryan Murphy. Lil Jeffrey occasionally appears in a flashback, begging for a secondary show. Much of it takes place in the 1980s.

In a way, Ryan Murphy taps into ’80s nostalgia, just like Stranger Things. Yes, Everyone Loves the ’80s – Hall and Oates, Cranks, Supply Side Economics, Alf, Progressive Democrats, and Shadab Your Face by Joe Dolce

Ryan Murphy has yet to meet a celebrity from the old days who doesn’t want to make a limited series about him, and now he’s on the path of serial killers. In a way, I suppose it also taps into ’80s nostalgia, like Stranger Things. Yes, everyone loves the ’80s—Haul and Oates, Cranks, Supply Side Economics, Alf, Progressive Democrats, and your face-to-face Joe Dolce.

And like Joe Dolce’s Shaddap Your Face, Jeffrey Dahmer is dark and annoying. This became clear to everyone in the first episode when the police found human body parts scattered around his apartment, in the refrigerator, in the drain, in the large acid barrel near his bed. When reversing, having an acid barrel near the bed is a bit of a red flag. Also, once I got used to Dahmer’s psychopathic murderous crime (there are a lot of them), I found myself judging severely for his disorder. “There’s no excuse for that, Jeffrey, clean yourself up!” I said repeatedly.

Prior to his arrest, Jeffrey waved no red flags at all with the cops he met with seemingly with almost comical frequency. At one point, some officers left him with a drunk-driving warning due to his sad little face, not noticing that he had a car full of the severed driver. When a drugged teenager escapes from his fortified cell, the rogue cops allow Dahmer to bring his “drunken friend” back to the house where he murders him.

This has already happened. The police folk loved cutting Dahmer’s arm for a reason. What about Jeffrey’s arm, the blond, white one the police trusted more than his worried black neighbors? It’s clear from the start that Dahmer is so bad at serial murder, body disposal, and police evasion that he’s been making his way through them for too long due to institutional racism. Even in the world of serial murder, the average white performer seems to rise to the top.

At first, this seems like the point of the show, to show the racist way in which Dahmer’s crimes were investigated and reported, while marginalizing the young people of color he killed. But if that were the case, it would be much shorter than that. (It’s 10 episodes long!) Also, the creators were sure to focus more on these victims rather than exploitatively portraying their horrific deaths (family members were critical of the show), and at least for the first three episodes, they’ll talk at length about raising Dahmer and doing so to Pretty much from his point of view.

In these scenes we see Dahmir’s cold and angry father and his fragile emotional mother. We see them arguing. We see him participating in the anatomy of recreational animals with his father. We see him struggle with his sexual orientation and loneliness while staring at the passing blocks. He just wants to make new friends, you see, and also eat them. We see him drinking a lot of Budweiser.

We see Dahmer drinking a lot of Budweiser. I’m starting to suspect that the entire show is an ad, Budweiser did some research, found the main demographic to be “people who look like Jeffrey Dahmer” and decided to keep up. If you have ever tasted a Budweiser, this will be true for you

It’s always a Budweiser, and the camera dwells interestingly on the label. He’s doing this to the point where I’m starting to suspect that the entire show is advertising, that the folks at Budweiser did some market research, found that the main demographic were “people who are like Jeffrey Dahmer” and decided to partner with him. If you’ve ever tasted a Budweiser, this will be true for you.

The moral oddity of the entire endeavor is compounded by the fact that Evan Peters, who plays Dahmer, is a great actor. He’s so good at speaking in Dahmer’s tormented halting style and portraying his frightening suffering with empty eyes that viewers may find themselves mistakenly sympathizing, saying “Poor Jeffrey Dahmer. He’s having a really tough day” and “Can’t Jeffrey Dahmer get a break?” and “Hey cop, what’s your flesh with Jeffrey Dahmer? Why don’t you cut some slack on him?” before recalling, “Oh yeah, there’s also all the murders he’s done” or “He’s so untidy. There’s no excuse for that.”

Dahmer’s life is presented as a meaningless jumble of biographical details that make his crimes more or less inexplicable than they were before you saw this show. There is a void at its center, and what we are left with is disturbing, disturbing, and philosophically empty

I don’t think Murphy and his colleagues are trying to discuss some sympathetic causal link between Dahmer’s sad but common life experiences and Dahmer’s uniquely horrific crimes. There is no reasonable cause and effect here. There is no point where you can say, “Ah, I see now that the real ‘beast’ is [insert a societal woe of your choice here*]. (*I always go with “Capitalism” or “Maroon 5 Music.) You can’t. Dahmer is totally gay.

Thus, this is a satirical and voyeuristic show that cannot be avoided. Ultimately, his life is presented as a meaningless jumble of biographical details that make his crimes more or less inexplicable than they were before you saw this program. “Inexplicably there is a serial killer” is the thesis sentence. There’s a void in the middle of the show, and what we’re left with is annoying, annoying, and philosophically empty.

Yet people are watching it in droves. It’s sat for weeks at the top of Ireland’s Top 10 Billboard TV shows today on the Netflix homepage, often alongside shows like Sunset Sale and Love Is Blind. As an Irish Times educator, I’m totally obsessed with Irish psyche, and Netflix’s Top 10 seems as good a place as any to explore the identity of that gossip psyche.

Accordingly, it seems that we as a people care about finding love, buying expensive real estate, and avoiding or potentially fatal sociopaths. (Conversations with a Murderer: The John Wayne Gacy Tapes is also in the top ten this week.) In due course, the psychotherapist will write a paper titled Hunks, Houses and Homicide: The Irish Psyche in a Time of Netflix, which will all make sense. Maybe it’s the British. I find it usually their fault.

The Paw Patrol is also ranked 10th in the 10th place. And she sits there like a multicolored beacon of childlike joy in the gloomy, silent wilderness of a tender adult mania. Of course, as I wrote before, the world of the Paw Patrol is the dystopian world where emergency services are outsourced to robotic dogs and everyone bows to the whims of a financially independent child. So, in a way, our children’s sense of the future is darker than ours. Maybe someone should make Lil Jeffrey after all. I’m sure the nihilists of Netflix Kids will be everywhere.

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