There tends to be a lot of fanfic out there whether it be het, slash, or femslash that have one character that’s well… a serial killer.
Dexter, Sylar, Jackson Rippner, or even the Mad Hatter, there are many mad killers in fandoms and fanfic authors think they are really sexy. More often than not, fanfiction portrays these killers as falling madly and passionately in love with some sweet sexy thing.
But is this type of fanfiction sending the wrong message?
I don’t think that any sane person would say that falling in love with a serial killer is recommended or even healthy. So what are these fanfics really about?
Well, often they have some sort of “redeemed sinner” storyline to it. These evil killers fall in love with someone good and decide to repent and leave their evil life behind. Now, on the one hand, this can send a negative message that you can “fix someone.” So let me be clear, you can’t change anyone. People have to make the choice to change for themselves, but there has always been this idea that one person can somehow fix another, and that is absolutely not healthy. On the other hand, most of these fanfics actually have the bad serial killer character change their ways, because they want to be a better person, which usually was inspired by the person they fell in love with.
Now, at this point, I should point out that this obsession with serial killers is really just an extreme version of the bad boy trope, which basically incorporates everything that I already mentioned above. The bad boy trope plays into the redeemed sinner storyline, but adds an element of danger. It makes a boring romance more interesting, even if it is potentially problematic. So why even go to the extreme by making these bad boys serial killers? What’s the appeal?
I think the real appeal comes from an added element of danger and from an extreme kink factor. Redeeming a bad boy seems easy in comparison to redeeming a serial killer. He’s dangerous! Not only will he break your heart, he might break your neck. But usually this seems to be an excuse to write in many sexual kinks. Erotic asphyxiation, whips, chains, various painful and erotic sex toys, and a lot of pseudo BDSM.
Now, there is nothing wrong with exploring these kinks, whether in fanfic or safely in reality. What I do worry about is that constantly connecting these kinks with fandom serial killers makes them seem somewhat disturbing or weird. If you like getting tied up and spanked, it doesn’t mean that you are likely to start killing people. Sex is something to enjoy, be done safely, and consensually. But demonizing and making certain kinks seem weird doesn’t help anyone.