Stop Saying Their Names

Recent Netflix series release sparks conversations about a serial killer



Screenshot of a Google search of Anthony Hughes, who is one of the victims of the serial killer the Netflix series is based on. There is very little information about him on the internet, however recent articles have come out since the series released, because episode six of the series told his back story in greater depth than the killer’s other victims.

Gabrielle Williams, Opinion and Entertainment Editor

Within the past couple of weeks all anyone can talk about is the new Netflix series telling the story of a serial killer. Notice that I did not name the series or the serial killer in which the series is based upon, also notice that I did this with great intention. With a quick internet search and some basic critical thinking you will be able to discover which serial killer and which series I am referencing, but you will not hear either of those names in this article, because we need to stop saying them. Stop saying their names.

Every once in a while a series, documentary, or movie will come out and the topic of conversation will be that of a serial killer, mass shooting, or another example of a person or group lacking humanity. I believe that as human beings we are fascinated with tragedy. From ancient plays to Shakespeare to Netflix series, we continue to produce entertainment surrounding tragic and dark topics. I don’t want you to read this article thinking I am sitting on a high horse and looking down on people who feed into tragic entertainment, because I am one of the people who sat down and watched the new Netflix series.

There is no good way to make a movie, documentary, or series where the main character is a serial killer or mass shooter. In 2019, Zac Efron, an actor adored by our generation, depicted one of the most infamous serial killers in a movie. This is incredibly problematic because it can be very challenging to separate an actor from their role. When you have a man loved by millions playing a man that should be
hated by millions, you lose some of the impact of the film you are trying to make.

Besides casting there are other issues with this film. By not showing the deaths of the victims, the filmmakers thought this would make the movie more respectful, while it only made the serial killer seem not guilty because we as an audience never saw him commit a murder or crime. The recently released series about a different serial killer does the opposite. They show the gore, and tell the story in its entirety. Both
of these methods of writing are disrespectful to the victims, leading me to conclude that there is no good way to depict a killer as a main character.

Episode six of the series inspired me to write this article. The creators of this Netflix series wrote an episode that primarily focused on the victim’s life outside of their killer. This made me realize that the only way to respect the victims of these serial killers, is to talk about the victims. We do not talk about them enough. Can you list a few serial killers? Can you list a few victims of serial killers? I found myself only being able to list the killers.

Although lots of news sources have recently adopted the idea of not naming the killer, there is still improvement that needs to be made. Generally, entertainment media focuses on the name of the killer or the name of the shooter, but not the names of the victims. Perhaps because it is easier to learn one name than twenty or serial killers are more psychologically interesting than “normal” people who got unlucky and became a victim. We need to make a change in how we depict the villains of society. Even in articles about the victims, the headline still has the killer’s name. I do not need to know the name of the man who shot 19 elementary school students and two teachers, but I do need to know the names of the 21 people who died in that shooting. I do not need to know the name of the man who killed hundreds of women, but I do need to know the names of those women. We need to learn new names, and end the glorification of serial killers and shooters.

The Victims of the Uvalde School Shooting: Makenna Lee Elrod, Layla Salazar, Maranda Mathis, Nevaeh Bravo, Jose Manuel Flores Jr., Xavier Lopez, Tess Marie Mata, Rojelio Torres, Eliahna “Ellie” Amyah Garcia, Eliahna A. Torres, Annabell Guadalupe Rodriguez, Jackie Cazares, Uziyah Garcia, Jayce Carmelo Luevanos, Maite Yuleana Rodriguez, Jailah Nicole Silguero, Irma Garcia, Eva Mireles, Amerie Jo Garza, Alexandria “Lexi” Aniyah Rubio, and Alithia Ramirez.

The Victims of a Serial Killer Brought into Recent Light: Steven Hicks, Steven Tuomi, Jamie Doxtator, Richard Guerrero, Anthony Sears, Ricky Beeks, Eddie Smith, Ernest Miller, David Thomas, Curtis Straughter, Errol Lindsey, Anthony Hughes, Konerak Sinthaso-mphone, Matt Turner, Jeremiah Weinberger, Oliver Lacy, and
Joseph Bradehoft.