Discourses of Violence in True Crime Narratives



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I analyzed the popular true crime comedy podcast My Favorite Murder (MFM) to find out if there were any implicit biases in true crime discussion and to analyze the method of storytelling as well as their views on the criminal justice system. True crime as a genre dates to the 16th century with pamphlets about murders and other crimes circulating in Britain. In the 1900s, true crime magazines and books proliferated, with some of this content written by former police and prosecutors. Today, true crime is the third most listened to podcast genre, primarily consumed by women. I focused my analysis on three episodes featuring female victims and male killers, analyzing the rhetoric, narrative structure, and tropes used throughout the episodes. I used secondary sources such as Emily Thuma's All Our Trials, Angela Davis et al.'s Abolition. Feminism. Now., and Françoise Vergès Feminist Theory of Violence to provide background on anti-carceral and feminist theory and organizing. I found that true crime creates increased reliance on police and prosecution and perpetuates fear for women's personal safety. MFM's point of view is that the system is good and just but simply lacks resources. The show sensationalizes the killer and characterizes victims with idealized feminine qualities to make the story palatable and entertaining for female audiences. The lack of nuance in their reporting leaves audiences uninformed about the harms of the system. The genre promotes individualizing solutions to violence and misplaces responsibility on the individual for safety and security.



Political science