Context is everything.
In some photos of Ted Bundy, he seems like a prospective boyfriend many would say yes to on a dating app. In Netflix's latest docuseries, he's shown as a maniacal predator who sated his bloodlust by murdering, raping, and dismembering over 30 women. But he's still so cute! Or so say an alarming number of Twitter users.
Netflix took to Twitter this week to clarify that they didn't mean to create a wave of Ted Bundy fangirls when they released Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes and begged them to please, for the love of god, stop. The streaming service posted to their official account, "I've seen a lot of talk about Ted Bundy's alleged hotness and would like to gently remind everyone that there are literally THOUSANDS of hot men on the service — almost all of whom are not convicted serial murderers."
Namely, after viewing the docuseries—and probably the tone deaf trailer for the Zac Efron drama based on Bundy, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile—an unseemly amount of Twitter users have no reservations about lowering already depleted expectations by mourning Bundy as "such a waste of a baby daddy." Many such "Bundy stans" sum up their appreciation of the executed serial killer with the phrase, "Kill me daddy."
While Twitter's outrage at the idea of stanning a serial killer may currently outpace the number of genuine posts, Bundy still has his strident defenders. Between the murderer's charisma and manipulative charm, both of which are unflinchingly demonstrated in The Ted Bundy Tapes, along with Zac Efron portraying him with Hollywood appeal, the lives Bundy ended become a non-issue since he was "hot af."
And because the distinction between fantasy and reality is meaningless, seeing Bundy on screen doesn't just romanticize the killer as a cliche "bad boy"; he's practically a super villain. A faction of Marvel's Venom fans feels offended at unfair comparisons between Bundy and their favorite fictional character—because obviously Venom is way cooler.
Even if Bundy isn't your favorite comic book villain, he's still a great prime time antagonist. One user blindly equated the killer with American Horror Story's token criminal character, Tate Langdon: "People act 'disgusted' with Ted bundy but say nothing when ppl stan characters like Tate Langdon lmao it's all the same basic ass white hoes who think tattoo chokers, black nail polish, and ouija boards are a personality type lmao."
One lost soul even posted this reply to Netflix's message: "I mean technically he's not convicted so..." Judging by Bundy's three life sentences and execution 30 years ago in Florida's electric chair, this commenter doesn't read titles of documentaries.
And yet, even with Netflix urging viewers to look to the "THOUSANDS of hot men on the service" other than Bundy, who's the second most popular heartthrob on their site? It's Penn Badgley's character Joe, the friendly neighborhood stalker from You. Like Netflix, Badgley recently expressed alarm at the number of people romanticizing an individual who's clearly criminally disturbed. He reposted the tweet, "The amount of people romanticizing [Joe] in You scares me," and commented, "Ditto."
Anyway, fuck, marry, kill: Venom, Joe, and Ted Bundy?
Meg Hanson is a Brooklyn-based writer, teacher and jaywalker. Find Meg at her website and on Twitter @megsoyung.
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