Perspectives on Ted Bundy skew with recent media coverage

Samantha Carrillo, Assistant Opinion Editor

Though he was convicted and sentenced to death over 30 years ago, the horrendous and inhumane acts committed by Ted Bundy continue to be discussed in today’s media.

Netflix released an original documentary series called Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes in addition to a newly released movie, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile starring Zac Efron as Bundy.

Though the title of the movie itself immediately gives the audience insight on Bundy’s character, many have spoken out about how the trailer portrays Bundy in a way that overshadows the fact that he was an infamous serial killer and brutally murdered as many as 30 women.

Many believed that the overall tone of the trailer was too upbeat and worrisome. With the casting of Efron as Bundy, many fear it may lead people, especially young girls, to “lust” after the notorious serial killer.

Kathy Kleiner Rubin, a victim of Bundy’s while at Florida State University, saw no issue with his portrayal in the movie so long as viewers understand that the charismatic air that Efron captured on-screen was necessary. Netflix’s documentary series expands on the importance of comprehending that people at the time primarily perceived Bundy in a positive way, giving him a sense of manipulation and control over his victims the image of him portrayed to the public.

Most of those who knew Bundy and had been part of one of his many intermittent social circles, never conceived him to be the infamous “Ted” responsible for committing the gruesome crimes talked about on the news.

Though he had been more introverted and reserved when he was younger, Bundy was revered as a mild-mannered man who held normal romantic relationships by church members, family, friends, peers and professors from his university.  In his interview with Stephen Michaud, Bundy even said, “There is nothing in my background which would lead one to believe that I was capable of committing murder…absolutely nothing.” Essentially, he decided what type of behavior he wanted to emulate,  convincing others that his clean-cut and sociable persona was the only side of him to see.

The choice to cast Efron as Bundy was undoubtedly a risky one that resulted in a myriad of reactions from viewers. Some believed that Efron taking on the role would be problematic given that Efron is attractive and well adored, effectively skewing views on Bundy and distracting from the main focus of the movie.

Others justify the casting because, true to real life, Bundy relied on his charisma and good looks to abduct his victims and gain sympathy in the eyes of the public. These traits also helped in maintaining his girlfriend’s,  Elizabeth Kloepfer, uncertainty in regards to his involvement in the homicides even after his eventual arrest and trial.

Bundy was never seen as the type of individual to be responsible for such evil. Therefore, casting an actor like Efron for this role was more than appropriate to showcase how it is important to recognize that people, regardless of their looks and demeanor, are not always as they appear.