I think most fans of true crime have a favorite serial killer. Favorite is a bizarre word to use in this situation. It’s not as if you appreciate their work. I have always been drawn to Jeffrey Dahmer. On the surface he’s a nerd. Below that he was deeply lonely and just wanted to be loved. We can all identify with that. It’s what happens because of that need that separates Dahmer from the rest of us.
Ted Bundy is different. He was always different. He was attractive and had charisma. I would go out with Ted Bundy, even if it was just to hate bone the Republican out of him. I know a fair amount about Ted Bundy, both the killer and the person (and I do believe you can separate the two.). Going into Netflix’s Conversations With A Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes I wasn’t really looking to learn more about him. I was looking to learn more about why, despite it all, I’m still attracted to him. Whatever attracted means.
I have only watched the first episode. I need to approach the series in two ways.
- As a fan of true crime
- As a fan of Ted Bundy
I hate writing that. I’m not a fan of him per se but what do you call a person who consumes as much information as they can about a topic. You call them a fan.
True Crime Fan
There is an interview Stone Phillips did with Jeffrey Dahmer from prison that I have watched many times. It’s probably the most comprehensive interview with a serial killer we have access to. The Ted Bundy Tapes is not that.
Jeffrey Dahmer speaks openly about the crimes he committed. He appears to show remorse. He goes into great detail about what he did. Sometimes his father is with him and I gotta tell you those are some insane reaction shots. Although Dahmer’s mother, who is not with him, takes the cake.
You won’t get this from the Ted Bundy tapes. Yes, you hear his voice and it’s jarring because it’s calm and measured and you know what he did. However, at least in the first episode, he’s talking about his childhood, his dreams, his aspirations. Ted Bundy could be anybody in these exchanges and it’s only creepy because we have knowledge of what he did.
As a morbid person something in me wants to hear this seemingly normal person discuss the unspeakable things he did. Ted Bundy isn’t doing that. God bless him he cried innocence until the end. He even blamed porn which is still saying, “Hey, not my fault.”
We don’t get any insight into Ted Bundy but I kind of expected this. He’s a shell of a human, a chameleon. It’s what drew him to politics. It’s what allowed him to work at a suicide hotline. It’s probably what enabled him to murder women and look Stephen Michaud, the journalist on the tapes, right in the face and claim no knowledge of these crimes.
As a fan of true crime I’m here looking for some accountability from Ted Bundy, but I also want gory details. Again, I want that Jeffrey Dahmer interview but from Ted Bundy. What we get is something else altogether, his third person account of the crimes. It’s still a confession but he’s removed. It’s interesting hearing him start to share details as if he’s telling the story about someone else. Ted, like me, is also separating the killer from the person.
Ted Bundy Fan
It’s a predictable thing to be attracted to an asshole. It’s an insane thing to reduce Ted Bundy to mere asshole status but here I am.
I’ve heard some people refer to Ted Bundy as a cautionary tale. That’s ridiculous. When it comes to him there is no such thing as a cautionary tale. Most women would fall for Ted Bundy.
Listening to him speak I was still enamored by him. He’s clearly an intelligent man. He’s ambitious, even from prison. I have to admit when he mentions making out with his first girlfriend in the car I got a little turned on. I keep waiting to be horrified by him. I am not.
I think the driving force behind this show is this idea that if you know more about these killers then you’ll know what to look for. That’s laughable. Ted Bundy was a catch and so far I haven’t heard anything from his own mouth to suggest otherwise. It’s insulting to me, as a woman, to suggest I could know better. He’s a smooth criminal.
Watch The Tapes
Yes, watch this series. Regardless of what Ted is saying it’s rare to have this kind of one-on-one access to a serial killer…despite the fact that he doesn’t fess up, yet. We know what he did. It’s thrilling to have that knowledge and listen to him speak, even if it’s about a love of Volkswagens…the car Hitler invented.