‘Dahmer’ on Netflix critics say they felt lack of ‘respect’

Ryan Murphy and Ian Brennan’s Dahmer: Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, starring Evan Peters as Milwaukee’s infamous serial killer, has already broken Netflix’s global record for a series debut in its opening week, according to the streamer. But it sparked controversy in the process.

The series, which started last week in a viral Twitter thread by Eric Perry, a relative of Dahmer victim Errol Lindsey, has been accused of profiting from the trauma experienced by the murdered Dahmers – many of whom are LGBTQ+ of color – and those that they survive, have suffered.

“Unfortunately, I received a lot of comments [about the series] said we should be thankful that this story is being told,” Perry, 33, told The Times. “I want people to understand that this isn’t just a story or historical fact, it’s real people’s lives. [Lindsey] was someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s father, someone’s friend torn by someone [our] lives.”

Also the subject of an upcoming Netflix documentary, Conversations With a Killer: The Jeffrey Dahmer Tapes, Dahmer killed, dismembered, and in some cases cannibalized, 17 men and boys between the late 1970s and his capture in 1991, just the latest in a series of serial killers whose stories are told and retold on the platform. For Perry, that comes with a certain responsibility.

“I think social media and Netflix combined with a big name producer and cast has really stepped up [Jeffrey Dahmer] more than I’ve ever noticed before. [Dahmer] never been one memes before,” he said. “We’re all just one traumatic event away from having the worst day of your life reduced to your neighbor’s favorite binge show. And above all, if you want to create something that uses real-world people and experiences, you should at least contact those people out of respect.”

Netflix declined to comment on Perry’s criticism or the involvement of victim families or victim advocates in “Dahmer.” (The families of victims of the Atlanta Child Murders, subject of Netflix’s “Minhunter” season 2, have not been contacted, The Times reported in 2019.)

Lindsey’s sister Rita Isbell — who made an angry statement about the impact on victims during the 1992 trial, a moment portrayed in DaShawn Barnes’ “Dahmer” — has also spoken out against the series. As noted in an essay published by Insider, Isbell criticized the entertainment industry’s commercialization of tragedy.

“I don’t need to see it, I lived it,” Isbell, now in her 60s, says of the play, claiming Netflix never contacted her about “Dahmer” or her performance in it. She also writes that she asked the streamer “wishes”. [the victims’ families] mind or what [we] felt like making it. You didn’t ask [us] anything. They just did it.”

However, the criticism isn’t just coming from those who see themselves or their family members on the show. It also comes from those who worked on “Dahmer”. Production assistant Kim Alsup, the tweeted After being “terribly treated” on set, The Times tells The Times that she hasn’t seen the series because of the experience: “I just feel like it’s going to bring back too many memories of working on it. I don’t want to have these PTSD-like situations. The trailer itself gave me PTSD, which is why I ended up writing this tweet and didn’t think anyone would read it.”

“It was one of the worst shows I’ve ever worked on,” Alsup added as a black woman, repeating claims that she was one of only two bottom line black crew members on “Dahmer” — and that she was a regular confused with the other. “I was always called by someone else’s name, the only other black girl who didn’t look anything like me, and I learned the names of 300 extras from the background.”

Alsup eventually found her experience improving during the production of Episode 6, “Silenced,” which was written by a black woman (Janet Mock) and directed by a black man (TV veteran Paris Barclay). The episode establishes the backstory of deaf victim Tony Hughes by detailing his close relationship with his mother.

On the whole, however, she found the experience “tiring” and the set – which she claims no mental health coordinators were available – an unsupportive environment. Such roles have become more common as the industry has reckoned with the toll that portraying traumatic experiences can take on cast and crew; For example, director Barry Jenkins hired a consultant for his Prime Video series The Underground Railroad, set in the antebellum South. Netflix declined to comment on Alsup’s claims about the on-set working environment or the number of black crew members. According to a Netflix spokesperson, the entire crew will have access to free health and wellness resources, including access to a licensed therapist.

Other contributors to the series have supported the project. His defense attorneys include Shaun Brown, who plays Tracy Edwards, who escaped Dahmer and whose contact with the police eventually led to the serial killer’s arrest. In a statement on social media, Brown referenced the show’s efforts to shed light on often-forgotten characters in the Dahmer case, such as Edwards.

“It’s very strange to get attention for someone else’s misery,” Brown wrote. “I hope you have love for all victims and maybe with time you have more love for each other.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/tv/story/2022-09-30/netflix-monster-jeffrey-dahmer-story-controversy-victims-eric-perry-rita-isbell ‘Dahmer’ on Netflix critics say they felt lack of ‘respect’

Sarah Ridley

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