We’ve seen the memes fan girls post on tumblr and Facebook expressing their love/lust for “Thor” villain Loki. Singer Ke$ha uses the name of a serial killer to create a rhyme in her graphic song “Cannibal”. You can even watch a show about a killer’s cult following called, well, “The Following”.
Bonnie and Clyde syndrome, the namesake of this article’s title, touches on the sexual attraction to dangerous people who have committed terrible crimes. What this has to do with fandom, is that there are subcultures of people on social networking who call themselves fan communities of real life killers.
Misty, a Colorado resident, has made the news for being a vocal part of the Holmies community, or supporters of movie theater gun massacre starter James Holmes. This tumblr user, who states she is “an aspiring forensic psychology student”, dedicates her profile to the idea of serial killers, including their history, and often defends via user Q&A’s that just because you are physically attracted to the killer does not condone what they did.
Psychology Today posted an article loosely on this subject where it’s said, among other things, “To be drawn to a killer is to indulge our natural curiosity about anyone who behaves audaciously, who radically deviates from the norm, because it is in our interests to monitor such people at all times.” Hey, I’ve even published a review and my support of Dearly Departed, which is a business that capitalizes on a morbid history involving celebrity death.
So are the women, and sometimes men, who have this affliction, normal? Anticipating backlash, I choose to state yes, they are normal. However, do I personally feel there are better things to focus on and some of these people take their obsessions too far? ABSOLUTELY. Are these people who worship the real people who commit these atrocious acts qualified as fans? That’s a loaded question I can’t, and would rather not, further evaluate more so than I have.
Here we reach the Catch 22 of this situation. In America, which particularly these “Holmies” seem to originate from, we have Freedom of Speech. Is it fair of me to say that a woman who is obsessed with a real serial killer, who our modern media turns into public figures, is not a fan, while someone who obsesses over fictional killers like Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker, is?
Should we openly indulge in our love of villains, real or fictional, and does it inevitably lead to negative actions? Is it an obsession best kept to oneself, if we aren’t always rooting for the good guys? In the end, much like the acts that these serial killers commit, we are left with many more disturbing questions than answers. It goes without saying that I hope any victim of any serial killer these people choose to admire can rest in peace, especially when their actions gain them fame.