The Sick and Twisted World of True Crime Podcasts and Videos
When Military Families for Justice started its own podcast “River City Charlie” we had expectations of using it regularly. Our goal was simple: Give bereaved military families dealing with a questionable death a voice. The reason: Because nobody is listening to them. I mean, really listening to them. My co-founders, Tracy Shue and Kimberly Stahlman, are both victims of a flawed military system of justice. They only discovered the flaws after their spouses were viciously murdered. They were part of the great big military family and didn’t know about the decades-old systematic abuse of its own until it happened to them.
Because of Covid, River City Charlie was put on the back burner. At first we were disappointed with the delay as we had many episodes ready for post production. However, the time away allowed us to consider our position in the world of true crime podcasts. We will only post episodes as time and research of facts allow. Sadly, many (not all) true crime podcasts are, frankly, disgusting because of how the stories are told. Some make a party out of it while regurgitating whatever (mis)information they picked up on television or the internet. Regurgitation is another word for vomit. They are spewing vomit instead of verifiable facts for consumers. Think about that.
I know devastated families who are being re-victimized with this form of entertainment; people whose integrity, innocence and emotions have been challenged in podcasts for no other purpose than to get clicks.
Military Families for Justice has taken down most of its case studies to prevent further abuse of the people for whom we advocate. It will still happen; but not with our help.
(It’s important to add an exception here - we thank Crime Junkie’s Podcast. They covered cases from our website and encouraged listeners to advocate for victims by signing our petition calling for a Bill of Rights for Bereaved Military Families. And for this we are grateful.)
Interest in true crime is as old as crime itself. It’s human nature and everyone has a different reason. Some people are sleuth-minded and interested in solving the puzzle. Some are interested because they want to advocate for an issue or help victims. And some are just, well, sick.
I’m not condemning the interest of the sleuth-minded, only the inhumanity, apathy, and recklessness in which cases are sometimes presented.
I’m an advocate. But I am sleuth-minded and on occasion I want to solve a puzzle. This led me to watch the recent HBO documentary about the death of actress Brittany Murphy. The flow of the story was repeatedly interrupted by annoying clips of random internet videos showing people applying makeup while giving their opinions behind the tragedy. Some of these clips alleged wrongdoing by Murphy’s mother without evidence. This poor woman is living in seclusion after having lost her beloved daughter while nitwits feast on her pain for an audience. I thought I must be the only one disturbed by this. Then I came across an article in The Daily Beast addressing the “bizarre and unsettling” trend in “True Crime Makeup Videos” found on YouTube and TikTok. The concept is simple: some person with probably zero knowledge of the facts of a crime talks to a video camera while applying makeup. It’s doubtful any of these people have ever spent time in a journalism or ethics class. It’s also doubtful they have any experience in law enforcement or victim advocacy.
Clearly, people will do anything for attention. So before giving your attention and/or money to these trends, please stop and think about the actual victims and the living breathing survivors of crime. Are these forms of “entertainment” helping society in any manner? Or are they building upon the already growing callousness in the world? Do you want to facilitate this ugliness? What if it was your loved ones murder?
I suppose I’m old school. I still believe in The Golden Rule. It’s likely some people will have to Google its meaning. In case that’s too much trouble the meaning is as follows:
The golden rule is a philosophy for leading one's life that suggests that other people should be treated fairly and with respect. Essentially, people act for the good of others, because they would like to be treated in the same way. ~ The Arthur W. Page Center Public Relations Ethics
Be careful what you feed your mind.