Netflix: between art and exploitation
In the era of Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV, and Amazon Prime, the TV media landscape has witnessed an unprecedented surge in competitiveness and diversity. The prevalence of on-demand services has experienced a significant boost during the COVID-19 lockdowns, giving rise to a new era of blockbuster series (like Stranger Things or Squid Game) and cinematic productions (such as Coda and All Quiet on the Western Front). However, this explosion of media offers has also fuelled an increasing appetite for gripping narratives and shocking plot twists, leading some recent productions down a path of increased graphic violence and explicit sexual content.
A notable illustration of this trend is evident in Netflix's “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”, a true crime series that delves into the chilling account of one of the United States' most infamous serial killers. Jeffrey Dahmer, who perpetrated the gruesome murders and dismemberment of 17 victims between 1978 and 1991, serves as a compelling example of the industry's pivot towards narratives that push the boundaries of conventional storytelling.
This research reviews the “Dahmer-Monster” series from both an artistic and business ethics perspective. From an artistic standpoint, Monster stands as a storytelling masterpiece. The quality of acting is outstanding, the attention to detail is meticulous and permeates every aspect of the production, and the quality of its soundtrack perfectly reflects the show's prevailing sense of dread. Given these achievements, the show stands out as an impressive and thought-provoking exploration of the dark recesses of the human psyche, and one that explores in depth the arcane forces that drive individuals to engage in gruesome actions.
Despite its artistic merits, the show and Netflix, more generally, are subject to several significant ethical critiques. These include: (a) the (over) exploitation of real-life tragedies and glorification of violence and deviant behaviours solely for entertainment and commercial purposes; (b) the discord between Netflix’s official rationale for producing the show (and a long list of other serial killer dramas alongside it) and actual delivery and commercial focus; (c) the lack of relation and sympathy towards the victims’ families; and (d) the unforeseen social and cultural legacies of popularizing and humanizing such characters in our popular culture, one that is particularly concerning in the case of true-crime productions that often blur the line between fiction and reality.
Notwithstanding its box office triumph at the critical acclaim, Monster reignites crucial ethical reservations regarding true crime media, mandating more responsibility and a conscientious regard for the well-being of all those implicated in the tragic events depicted on our screens.
Professor Sorin Krammer
Professor of Strategy and International Business | Research Lead, Dept. of Strategy and International Business | Sustainability Fellow - the Institute for Sustainability
Sorin M.S. Krammer is Full Professor of Strategy and International Business at Surrey Business School. Prior to joining University of Surrey, Sorin was a Full Professor of Strategy an International Business at University of Exeter Business School (UK), Associate Professor in International Business and Innovation at Leeds University Business School (UK), and Assistant Professor of International Economics and Business at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands), and has held academic positions at MIT Sloan School of Management (USA), Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research -SIEPR- (USA) and a visiting position at Northeastern University-D'Amore-McKim School of Business (USA). In addition to academia, Sorin was involved as well as an expert consultant in several World Bank projects dealing with innovation and international competitiveness (of regions and sectors) in less-developed countries.
Sorin has published, among others, in Journal of Management, Journal of International Business Studies, Research Policy, Academy of Management Learning and Education, Journal of Product Innovation Management or Journal of World Business, and he serves as member of the Editorial Boards of Journal of Management Studies, Journal of World Business, Journal of International Business Policy, Global Strategy Journal and Technological Forecasting and Social Change.
His research has also been recognized in terms of excellence by various international professional associations, such as the Academy of International Business (Alan Rugman Best Young Scholar Award -2014- Winner), the European Academy of Management (Best Paper Award -2022- Winner) and the Academy of Management (IM Division Georgetown Best Paper in International Business and Policy Award - 2023- Winner). He has also won the "Researcher of the Year" Award (2023) presented by the Surrey Business School, University of Surrey.
Professor Strategy and International Business, Strategy and International Business Department, Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, Guildford, 2022-present.
Professor Strategy and International Business, Management Department, University of Exeter Business School, Exeter, UK, 2019-2022.
Associate Professor of International Business and Innovation, International Business Division (CIBUL), Leeds University Business School, Leeds, UK, 2017-2018
Assistant Professor of International Economics and Business, Global Economics and Management Department, University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands. 2010-2016
Postdoctoral Fellow and Associate, MIT Sloan School of Management and NBER, Cambridge, MA, USA. 2009-2010.