Has Ted Bundy been oversexualised in the new movie, Extremely Wicked, Shocking and Vile?

Ted Bundy
Ted Bundy

Wicked, Shocking and Vile. Three words that only scratch the surface when it comes to the notorious American serial killer, Ted Bundy. Who these terms do not cause our minds to conjure images of, however, is Hollywood pretty boy Zac Efron who has been chosen to play Ted Bundy in the new movie, describing the chronicles of Ted Bundy’s crimes.

From “High School Musical” to “The Greatest Showman,” Efron always seems to land roles that place him as the attractive hopeless romantic whose problems reach a solution by the end of the movie. The role of a serial killer and rapist is undoubtedly a step outside of his usual genre. Of course, as an actor, he should be versatile and capable of embodying the role. However, the issue that arose with the release of the trailer is the oversexualized way in which Ted Bundy has been portrayed.

Critics have been saying that this trailer has over-romanticized Bundy and made him seem desirable. It shows Efron waltzing around a courtroom winning over the jury looking more like a Great Gatsby figure than Ted Bundy. Even if we remove the focus from Bundy himself and look at what the trailer has advertised as a whole, the movie still simplifies the horrors and crimes. The music playing during the trailer prepares us for a Jason Bourne-style fast-paced action thriller, not an honest account of the trauma Bundy inflicted on families and societies in the 1970 and 80s. Many have said this has trivialized Bundy’s crimes, reducing them to a plot that will be able to fit into a profitable Hollywood blockbuster.

On the other end of the spectrum, some believe that this is the only way to do justice to Bundy’s victims. The reality is that Ted Bundy wasn't like any other criminal; he played off his stereotypical good looks and charm to lure his victims into a false sense of security. Portraying his character as anything but a charming, attractive man would misrepresent the way these women were tricked by Bundy before their deaths. While we may not like it, his attractiveness was a part of his ammunition that made him so deadly.

The Ted Bundy Tapes - Netflix
The Ted Bundy Tapes - Netflix

Bundy was described as an “enigma” in Netflix’s recent documentary “The Ted Bundy Tapes.” Perhaps he is a puzzle that will never be fully solved, no matter how many experts try. However, Suzanne Moore, columnist for The Guardian, raises a concern in regards to Bundy’s representations in both the Netflix documentary and the movie. Moore highlights that while the documentary and movie are about Bundy’s crimes, the focus and spotlight is still on Bundy himself. How many of us can actually name any of the women whose lives he took? Denise Naslund, Janet Ott and Linda Ann Healy, are but a few of the women he murdered. While we debate how Bundy is being portrayed in the narrative, we must be careful not to allow these women to be forgotten.