February 17, 2019

The Enduring Fascination of Ted Bundy

“There is a rich abundance of nonfiction entertainment about Ted Bundy, America’s most notorious serial killer. In each instance, the author or television producer tells the story of Bundy’s heinous crimes, juxtaposing Bundy’s handsome face, in whatever disguise he favored that day, with the beautiful young women with long center-parted hair whom he murdered. These are the bare facts of the case, and they have been enough to generate a frisson in the American audience that has buzzed, undimmed, to the present day.

This year is the 30th anniversary of Bundy’s execution in an electric chair, and the buzz is rising to a screech. This week the biopic Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil, and Vile, starring Zac Efron as Bundy, premiered at Sundance. And the latest television contribution to Bundy canon is Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a four-part Netflix docuseries. It is based on 150 hours of audiotape belonging to journalist Stephen Michaud, who interviewed Bundy for his book, Only Living Witness: The True Story of Serial Sex Killer Ted Bundy, while Bundy was on death row in Florida. In the tapes, Bundy describes his own actions in horrible detail, and we get to listen in. Lucky us.

The show is put together chronologically, with archival footage cut between talking-head testimonials from cops, friends, and survivors. Its organizing motif is an animated reel of tape, meant to invoke the analogue origins of the show and connect it to other recent serial killer offerings set in the 1970s, like Mindhunter. Michaud’s tapes are pretty remarkable. He describes how resistant Bundy was to his queries at first, but how he then opened up like a flower once Michaud asked him to speak about himself in the third person.”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"Have world leaders really got the will to bring peace to Yemen? We hear much about Yemen’s crisis, but far less about the hypocrisy of states fuelling the very conflict they condemn."

"No poll so far in our database has tested Trump against the relatively unknown Weld... Indeed, Weld seems like one of the weakest candidates that anti-Trump Republicans could put up in a national campaign. "

"An initiative by the mayor of Tiberias for the municipality to help provide public transportation on the Sabbath has caused the issue of the social status quo to the forefront of public discussion."

"Like “30 Rock,” “Kimmy Schmidt” obviously slanted leftward, but most always exhibited a similar eagerness to skewer politics more generally than just the GOP."

"Yes, we’re all overwhelmed with email. One recent survey suggested that the average American’s inbox has 199 unread messages. But volume isn’t an excuse for not replying."

"... platforms now have a stranglehold over publishers who, individually and even as a group, have little-to-no bargaining power when it comes to algorithmic changes, ad rates, and much else."

"[There's] a subgenre known as National Socialist black metal, which espouses neo-Nazi views and has been described by the Southern Poverty Law Center as aiming to recruit youth to white-supremacist causes."

"“The Ideas That Made America” by Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen is an anomaly in the genre. Its brevity is a point of pride, yet it aspires to do a little of everything."

"My wish is to die in my own bed, cared for by people I love—clean, comfortable and relatively free from pain. I hope to have time to say my goodbyes and give my final blessings."

"A diet for fast weight loss is a pipe dream. Many of us want to lose weight without making permanent changes, because we view thinness instead of health as a success."

"Opportunity casts a long shadow over all subsequent Mars rovers, setting a gold standard of JPL engineering. Customized versions of its mobility software are used on the rovers Curiosity and upcoming Mars 2020."

"Biblical scholarship has deepened our understanding of the Torah and at the same time challenges us to consider the implications of our declaring the Torah to be emet. What is emet and what does it mean to say that the Torah is emet?"