La Criminalité

A deep dive into the world of true crime.

Photo by cottonbro on

When I was about five or six years old, in the back room of my grandma’s house, my mom pointed to a random house across the street and told me the people living there could be murderers as a lesson about why I shouldn’t talk to strangers. It was such a casual thing, but it made me afraid to go into my grandma’s back room by myself for a year because I thought the murderers across the street would break in and kill me.


Though this was before I got into watching true crime shows, the impact of the true crime genre was still able to reach me. The true crime genre can greatly impact the psyches of viewers and shape how they view the world around them.


According to Dr. Chivonna Childs from the Cleveland Health Clinic, consuming too much true crime can cause anxiety and fear that others might be serial killers.


“I’m definitely really cautious. When I go out, I’m always kind of thinking about it in my day-to-day life,” first year Cal Poly student Sofia Ray Harris said.


For some, this increased cautiousness can be a good thing, helping them feel more prepared for certain situations.


“It’s made me think about, if that were me, what would I do if I were in that situation,” said first year Cal Poly student Lena Van Duzer.


High school senior Suchona Chandi built on that idea by saying, “Learning something from the documentaries can give [people] a weapon to help protect them in the future.”


Beyond shaping how people perceive the world around them, the true crime genre can also influence how they view the criminal justice system.


Many true crime fans like to think that they could solve a murder after spending so much time consuming the genre.

“I think I could put together some pieces, solve it maybe…” Max Baddiley, first year student at Long Beach City College, said.


Others, like first year University of California – Irvine student Shady Ibrahim, think it wouldn’t be as easy as people think to solve a murder. “It’s definitely more complicated than movies and series make it seem,” he said.


Games such as “Unsolved Case Files”, which allows players to solve fictional yet realistic cold cases, helps fuel this idea that ordinary true crime fans can solve crimes.

@unsolvedcasefiles 🔎 Have you been waiting to test your detective skills with #unsolvedcasefiles ? We now have 8 cases to choose from! #murdertok #crimetiktok ♬ original sound - Unsolved Case Files

Consuming too much of the true crime genre can also change how seriously people take the reality of crime.


When asked how the genre has shaped them, first year Cal Poly students Claire Ogawa, Cody Cameron, and Maya Netto joked that they were murderers or that they like murder.  Even Felix Tran, another first year Cal Poly student who isn’t a big fan of the genre, joked about not being a psychopath.


This kind of humor is also highlighted in TikToks, like the one shown below, that jokes about the traits of serial killers.

Has the true crime genre gone a little too far? Fionna Bennet, a second year student at Long Beach City College, thinks that it has.


“I feel like some of the true crime popularity could also be people almost glamorizing serial killers and things and I feel like that’s when it reaches an unhealthy obsession with people,” she said.


Could it perhaps be time to reshape how we view the true crime genre to have a more positive impact on its viewers?