The True Crime Genre Has Become Dangerous


True Crime as a genre has experienced a massive explosion in popularity over the years. Cable TV has a long history of creating such content, but in recent years streaming platforms have taken the mental of the true crime hub. If Netflix is releasing a new documentary, there is a high likelihood that the genre of said documentary is true crime. 

HBO Max has been seeking to compete with Netflix with their own true crime documentaries, but there's a third competitor who possesses a lot more freedom in how they produce their content. That third competitor is YouTube.

Extracting Pain for Money

We like to believe that the makers behind these documentaries are good hearted artists with ambitions to preserve the life of the subjects their films explore. I would say that is true for the artists, but there are those behind the artists who see the substantial profit that can be made on the graves of victims. 

The result has been the loss of the fundamental purpose of have something to say. Information is often (if not always) useless without context. A list of facts about World War 2 would be accurate, yet it would lack the greater context of the suffering that millions endured. 

Suffering is the common denominator behind the true crime genre. In each of these stories lies the pain that the victims and their families experienced. Major streaming platforms have taken that pain & rehashed it to boost subscribers/ profits through sensationalizing their stories. Yet, despite how deplorable this may seem, content creators on YouTube have done a tremendous job of shamelessly leeching off the lives of victims. 

That's not to say that all YouTube content creators making true crime content are like this. There are a few who are doing truly incredible work, and I myself aspire to be counted amongst them. Yet we are the few in a sea of people simply looking to obtain more viewers than others. They seek to do the minimal amount of research, yet the maximum amount of dramatizing the presentation so that the viewer feels they are watching the most sickening act that has ever occurred on planet Earth. 

Setting a Higher Standard

The suffering of the victims in the true crime genre is an inescapable feature of the content. If no one had suffered, there'd be no story. As superior of a world it would be where we lacked the cases in order to create these documentaries, this is not the world we find ourselves in. So what are we to do with these stories? What are we to do with the suffering that people experienced in these crimes? 

Tell. A. Story. What is the message that you are wanting to get across from the facts and context of the crime? What is the greater purpose behind the creation of your content? These are the same questions I had to ask myself before creating my documentary To Kill the Ill. Andre Lee Thomas was a severely mentally ill individual who gruesomely murdered his wife & 2 children in Sherman, Texas. 

It would have been easy to sensationalize his story & the story of his victims in order to make the film more enthralling. Yet, this would have been highly disrespectful to the victims of his crime and would have accomplished nothing more than to make money off of their pain. I set out to take a different approach. 

Andre's case involved a series of travesties in our society's inability to effectively treat mental illness, & crucial failures of our justice system. These problems that contributed to the horrors that Laura Boren (Andre's wife) and their 2 kids faced will continue to impact future victims so long as these problems remain. The message of the documentary was to highlight these issues & inspire a motivation for change. 

It is important to remember that these victims are people, even after they have passed. They had lives, and the loss of these lives have profoundly harmed their families in ways that cannot be accurately described in words. What we do with these stories does in fact place a mark on their memory, & the emotions of their families. What are you going to do with them?