Why Do Crime Stories Fascinate People? If you’re reading this article, you might be one of the many people that get their kicks watching crime shows. You get to see what kind of tricks the criminal minds get up to in order to get away with their crimes – and it’s just fascinating.
Maybe it’s just pure curiosity about what people are capable of, but maybe it has something to do with the surrealism of seeing people on TV who wear their ill-gotten goods as they bought them at Marshall’s.
Dexter, a series about a serial killer thirsty for vengeance is one of the most-watched series of all time. Kendall Rae, a YouTuber who specializes in true crime stories, has over three million subscribers and approximately one million views per video.
The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child has sold millions of books around the world. All these forms of media have fascinated, entertained, and, some might say, obsessed audiences of all ages. But why do people enjoy crime stories (both true and fictional) and why is the appeal of this genre everlasting?
Why Do Crime Stories Fascinate People?
Crime is a Fact of Life
As espoused by true-crime writer Harold Schechter (to Hopes & Fears), crime is part of the very fabric that makes up society and both true and fictional criminals fulfill the social function of displaying their crimes before the world and being punished.
Audiences are innately fascinated by violence but they also want to see justice. Watching Ted Bundy being declared guilty or Jodi Arias being told that she would be in prison for the rest of her life brings a feeling of satisfaction and security that other genres can barely rival.
Cracking the Code
It is no wonder that Harlan Coben’s thriller novels or Stephen King’s horror stories are so well-loved by loyal fans across the globe. What these and many other best-selling authors from this genre have is the ability to pique the reader’s interest and to present them with a smart, intuitive protagonist with an often superior ability to crack a code, solve a mystery, or find a killer.
A perfect example is Harlan Coben’s Paul Copeland, a talented New Jersey prosecutor who (in the book The Woods) is forced to relive the traumatic murder of his teenage sister at a summer camp and to solve a related mystery.
Although Paul is highly capable, the series of twists and turns he is presented with cause him to struggle to maintain his sanity. Despite almost giving in various times, however, Paul continues to unravel the truth, even if it only uncovers painful details he thought he had put past him.
A Sense of Protection
Being able to tune in to real-life crime stories on YouTube or in podcasts and reading about fictional villains like Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris), Joe (You by Caroline Kepnes), or Gretchen Cain (Heartsick by Chelsea Cain) makes us feel safer.
Often, these villains are so over-the-top that it seems unlikely that we will ever encounter them. Of course, one only needs to see how Ted Bundy lured his victims to understand that we never really are truly safe.
Life can throw curveballs at even the most prepared individuals. In a very important way, true crime stories and crime fiction can teach us tricks, techniques, and methods that could actually come in handy one day (touch wood we will never need them, of course).
Crime stories have an undeniable fascination for human beings. They introduce us to mysterious villains and heroes that make evil seem like something that occurs in a world outside our daily lives. Of course, one of the biggest attractions of this genre is its ability to fulfill a social role—that of showing us that crime does not pay and that even the most clever of criminals can (and often do) get caught.