Is True Crime as Entertainment Morally Defensible?


我们每天发表一篇文章来表彰第五届年度学生社论大赛的前 10 名获奖者。

下面是Rachel Chestnut的文章,17岁。

Real life acts of violence have long been masqueraded before the public eye, in modes ranging from crime pamphlets to investigative documentaries, but the true crime genre has only recently risen in prestige. Delving deeper into real tragedies and revealing them to the public has its benefits, such as re-evaluating botched or unjust criminal trials and allowing viewers to think critically. Unfortunately, these advantages are outweighed by the genre’s tendency to exploit suffering, lean toward a preconceived narrative, prioritize ratings over morality and manipulate public opinion.

Aside from the initial use of actual crimes as entertainment, victims and their families have no real way to opt out of media coverage, as public footage can be used without their consent. For the sake of the perfect murder story, tragedy is ruthlessly dissected in the limelight without considering those actually affected. Although the coverage of crimes often converts them to tales for public consumption, the prolonged suffering of these victims is gut-wrenchingly real, yet often forgotten by engrossed viewers.

Additionally, the true crime genre is inescapably prone to subjectivity. “If you start out with a presumption of [an individual’s] guilt, you read the documents one way, and another way if you presume his innocence,” according to Janet Malcolm, an acclaimed author. Producers often have their own theories prior to investigation, and thus consciously or unconsciously shape their entire narrative around proving themselves right. To support these preconceived notions, creators can even manipulate evidence by omitting, under analyzing or changing inconvenient yet crucial facts.

Furthermore, producers often sideline ethics in order to sensationalize the coverage of heinous crimes. To captivate viewers, the true crime genre sacrifices reality for dramatic flourishes. For example, the creators of “The Jinx” withheld their prime suspect’s confession from the authorities until the bombshell finale aired, thus suspending justice for theatrics. Apparently, the producers’ slavish commitment to ratings exceeded their moral obligation to condemn the man they are convinced is a serial killer.

Finally, despite its subjective and under-regulated nature, true crime media has a disproportionate influence over public opinion. Investigative documentaries, especially those that heavily imply a person’s guilt or innocence, can easily convince viewers of their conclusions. This inadequately informed consensus can have disastrous consequences, such as waves of hate mail directed at unfortunate individuals linked to a crime investigation.

The true crime genre has the potential to open minds and act as a public judicial review, but in order for it to successfully do so, it must abandon the sensationalisation of tragedy for entertainment’s sake. Otherwise, its inherent flaws overshadow any possible benefits. Additionally, viewers must remain conscious of what they consume and never accept subjective interpretations as indisputable fact.

Works Cited

Davey, Monica. “‘Making a Murderer’ Town’s Answer to Netflix Series: You Don’t Know.” The New York Times. 28 Jan. 2016. Accessed 18 March 2018.

Leszkiewicz, Anna. “From Serial to Making a Murderer: Can True Crime as Entertainment Ever Be Ethical?” New Statesman. 15 Jan. 2016. Accessed 18 March 2018.

Mahler, Jonathan. “Irresistible TV, but Durst Film Tests Ethics, Too.” The New York Times. 16 Mar. 2015. Accessed 18 March 2018.

Schulz, Kathryn. “Dead Certainty.” The New Yorker. 25 Jan. 2016. Accessed 18 March 2018.