Ted Bundy, a common household name, is one of the most iconic serial killers worldwide. To begin to understand the way in which a mind as sick and twisted as Bundy’s was able to commit such horrendous acts of crime, the host of the podcast, Vanessa Richardson and Greg Polcyn insist on taking the listeners back through what could have caused it all – his unbearable childhood. Could a screwed up childhood really be a direct influence on to the future string of murders he was fated to commit? Could the risks taken in adulthood be an effect of the way in which he acted out as a kid?
With Part 1 focusing heavily on the background and the psychological aspects of Bundy’s childhood that could have directly impacted the string of murders he would soon commit, it is only natural that Part 2 would apply what we have already learned to the murders themselves. The exhausting trip on tying Bundy in with the murders happened all across the U.S. to his eventual imprisonment, from his daring escape back behind bars, Richardson, and Polcyn take another psychological look at the mysteriously charming man who had nothing but bad intentions.
IT’S NOT WHAT YOU SAY BUT HOW YOU SAY IT
The contents of the podcast itself present the worn-out information regarding Ted Bundy and his vicious string of murders in a different light. Considering the possible psychological aspects of why Bundy acted out in the ways he did only through their own research rather than being experts themselves, it gave the listeners something to hold on to – much like most media does when featuring a white male who has clearly been in the wrong. The content, in my opinion, is worth sitting and listening to for the hour or so the episodes last, but about twenty minutes into Part 1, I began to notice a theme. Not the most obvious theme of our subject title – Ted Bundy – but instead, the theme of the music edited behind our hosts news-caster like voices. It was the mentioning of Bundy’s attempt in reinventing himself entering into his freshman year of college, his idea that becoming the “all American boy” was what it took for him to gain enough popularity to have everything he had ever wanted as a young boy growing up, and everything he could possibly need to become that life changing political representative in the future – behind this part of story played the faint sounds of patriotic music. This is where I began to notice that the podcast itself seemed to fall more under the lines of a documentary rather than just a podcast. Every mention of Bundy’s difficult past is fueled by soft, somber ballads, just begging to tug at every heart string you have, just begging for sympathy. At the mention of Bundy’s victims or the events that led him to committing those horrific crimes, the music changes to a suspenseful tune, one that would fit nicely in a horror movie. There is no doubt that the music was specifically selected to accompany the stories in hopes that the readers would feel the emotions along with common folk hearing the story for the first time, or even alongside Bundy himself, but it seems as if the choice of whether or not I should feel sympathetic, frightened, horrified, or charmed by Mr. Bundy should be up to me, not the music.
There are many things that can effect the way true crime is presented to us, and how we take it. For the podcast over all, it seems that the story of Ted Bundy’s vicious murders is just that – a story. While listening to both Part 1 and Part 2, I felt as if I was listening to an audio book rather than something hard hitting dealing with psychological facts of the case. While this might be an ideal way to intake true crime for some people, it doesn’t seem to be ideal for someone actually trying to feel informed about the case. The issues about presenting something as major as this case in the form of a story is the possibility of losing the serious as it is – it loses it’s sense of realness. I will admit that the stories told here on the podcast were indeed interesting and something I would listen to again, however, when trying to listen for an educational purpose I felt lost in the story rather than the facts. As we listen to more true crime cases, because we know this is not the end of our true crime journey, I worry about the entertainment factor overriding the seriousness of the case, I worry about myself getting lost in the story, forgetting that the people presented to us are real victims and not just made of characters of a talented author. This podcast does a great job in telling the story of Ted Bundy and his victims, but the over-production of the podcast (the unnecessary incline of music, the way in which the story is told) begins to lose it’s credibility the more we listen.