True Crime fandom can often be fraught with ethical questions, and this is exactly as it should be. Using what will be the worst thing that has ever happened in many people’s lives, as what is essentially a form of entertainment, can bring us too uncomfortable places. Amoung the true crime community there is always discussions of what is and is not appropriate. How do we refer to victims? Which kind of crimes do we choose to focus on? How much detail of the violence do we need to give?
For all the true crime content creators who spend time wrestling with these questions, and trying to find the best balance possible, there are people for whom these questions do not necessarily matter. Enter into the world of Murderabilia.
Murderabilia, is collectables that are connected to murders, or other violent crime. Such as a picture drawn by John Wayne Gacie, Albert Fish’s autograph, letters written by Denis Raider. They do not have to be directly related to the crimes that were committed, but they are all pieces of matter which have been touched, or used by people who would doubtly have no fame or notoriety if it was not for the fact they committed some heinous crimes.
In this six part podcast Poppy Damon and Alice Fiennes, delve into the world of murderabilia, speaking to collectors and those who facilitate the selling of items, which controversally sometimes renumerates people who are quite rightly behind bars. In it both Damon and Fiennes, struggle with their complex feelings around muderabelia, while also admitting to their own fascination with true crime. In the end this tends to be the central questions of the show. In some way aren’t we all by reading and writing this post, in someway gaining something from the worst things that happen in others lives? Which also begs the question, what is the alternative, to not acknowledge or talk about such horror, to sweep it under the carpet, and pretend it did not happen?
This is something that also is distasteful, because pretending that terrible crime does not exist leaves us unable to deal with either it’s ramifications and work out resolutions to its causes. However, is murderbellia which is contemporary, not yet historical something different, and should be treated differently?