The Etsy Crowd's Obsession With (Gross) True Crime Merchandise
In today's entry of "Yet Another Bizarre Corner On The Internet," we turn to Etsy, the online retail company specializing in selling both handmade and vintage arts and crafts, with everything from original work to items sporting recycled slogans and puns. With all its candles, macrame, clothing, Thor hammers, and knick-knacks, the site prides itself on creating a global market where people can turn their skills and hobbies into a profit. It's neat, but there are also some strange and bizarre trends to be found. Enter the Live Laugh Love/True Crime Fam crossover.
While our fascination with crime and killings is nothing new -- not to mention the capitalization of it, as people used to fight over tickets to public executions during the 1800s -- the True Crime documentary subgenre has become exponentially popular in the last decade, with a Netflix crime doc almost guaranteed to make it onto the Top 10 list. Of course, the rise of the podcast also played a huge part in fueling people's interest. With all this popularity, it's no real surprise that this particular group of fandom would naturally want their own merch. However, like almost any fandom, some people have taken the "True Crime Is My Personality" obsession to the extreme.
Sure, there are innocent enough slogans-on-any-items like "True Crime and Chill" and "True Crime, glass of wine, in bed by 9" because women obsessed with both True Crime and a subscription to some Wine Club is a Venn diagram. But type in "serial killer" on Etsy, and you'll get over 10,000 hits of items with deranged faces of American murderers accompanied by the kind of copy that ... oh, let's just show it to you.
There's one of the site's most popular items for people who think they've got dark humor down:
Or what about this poster? Who wouldn't want to hang this in their living room?
A kitchen and a chopping board is murdery, right? Also, cannibalism, lol!
And then there are these Valentine cards that straight up romanticize serial killers, like the one with Ed Gein's face on it that reads "I want to decorate my house with you" because some people make it really easy for you to spot the red flag:
Now, obviously, most of these items are trying to poke fun at creeps and murderers, but there's something quite alarming in seeing women spend their money on towels with Ted Bundy's face on it. This strange trend feels like a way for people to mask their anxieties and convince themselves that they've taken control over the real-life horrors involved here, but reducing those horrors to some gag joke is simply another way for people to become desensitized.
Would these fans feel comfortable buying a shirt with a pun and the face of a school shooter on it? Probably not — most people would find that grossly insensitive. So why do people like Bundy and the Wests and Albert Freaking Fish get to enjoy that privilege? Because what many fans of these macabre merchandise pieces might not realize is that they're still giving relevancy and celebrity status to these people/children-haters and helping others capitalize on the pain and death of others.
Like we don't have enough insensitive doccies and podcasts about murderers and their victims anyway.
Zanandi is on Twitter and wrote a comic for Trailer Park Boys that you can order here.