True crime: Society’s New Bloody Obsession

The rising of true crime and murder in the modern world


Gruesome murder, gory details, and disturbing images can be seen almost instantly when a television is turned on. Yet, despite the barbaric deeds presented, the majority of people decide not to change the channel. As a matter of fact, some feel intrigued and choose to seek out similar stories.

While the name “true crime” seems to include all varieties of both minor discretions as well as felonies, our obsession seems to focus primarily on murders. True crime media are some of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world; establishing the question: Why does the general population seem to be mesmerized by such a gruesome topic? 

The Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference of 2019 included the theme, “Justice in America” and brought together professional journalists, novel writers and an audience engaged with crime and justice. Writers discussed how true crime has become popular in recent years, and why society finds it so fascinating. 

After speaking with numerous storytellers, it can be concluded that as humans we have a desperate desire to protect ourselves. Numerous psychologists have found that learning about these true crime cases increases the need of security, efficiently making people achingly more aware of the safety of their environments. In fact, researchers have found that women and men are more likely to dive into an exploration of the true crime world. 

“Women are given a lot of messages about their vulnerability,” said Rachel Monroe, author of Savage Appetites. Constantly reminded of their weaknesses, women are always looking for ways to keep themselves safe in case of a threat. 

Although women are more intrigued with crime, men can also be intrigued by the subject.

“Is it [because] I need to be careful and protect myself because the world is far more dangerous than the world I know?” said Skip Hollandsworth, writer for Texas Monthly. Watching, reading or hearing about true crime can help people pick up advice to avoid dangerous situations. 

Even though true crime is very realistic, some believe the obsession that has been carried made these cases a form of entertainment.

Laura Beil, a health and science reporter, said “I think there is a danger of people thinking crime is more prevalent than it really is… They’re going to believe that crime is rampant everywhere.”

If we look back throughout history, we can see a clear decline in crimes being committed over the years. 

The answer to the initial question is not just one, but many. People simply love true crime for multiple reasons, and although a major component to this obsession is the ability to distinguish good from bad, there’s so much more to the psychology behind this odd infatuation.