Thursday, September 10, 2015

My Friend Dahmer by Derf Backderf


Growing up in Middle School, I had this fascination to learn about murder and I would watch Forensic Files on CourtTv as if it was cocaine and I do not know what attracted to me to go on these marathon binges. I am surprised I was able to sleep at night because I would this show till the late hours of the night with the house completely silent and any outside noise I could hear would trigger my wild imagination. To be quite honest I never went further into researching murder and serial killers which I am glad for the sake of my sanity. 

I do not know the intricate details about Jeffrey Dahmer but I do know he did horrific acts of horror that haven't been heard of in decades and ruined countless families in the process. As I grow older I try to stay away from real life murders and serial killers because I do not need to see and learn terrifying stories about monsters when there is so much evil going around in this world. I need more uplifting topics in my life as I deal with the insanity of the world and yet I find myself reading this graphic novel.

Derf Backderf was an acquiescence (he says friend, I say otherwise) of Dahmer from Junior High till High School and you get a closer insight about Dahmer in his teen years. Right from the start the author warns you not to sympathize Dahmer instead have pity with him and that he is a tragic story until he started killing people which I completely agree. While he shares countless memories of Dahmer and his friends, Derf is filling the blanks that most of the media have ignored or overlooked.

While we live in different times, I am glad that thanks to technology, science, schooling, and parenting we have become more aware of our children's actions and have resources to help them in any shape or form. Back in the 70s, mental illness wasn't as accurate as now and everything was completely different. Teachers are attentive of their students and their behaviors, parents are annoying on top of their children's personal and academic life (and for good reason), and if anyone is developing signs of mental illness, medication and guidance is provided to help us stay in balance with reality.

When it comes Jeff, his parents were oblivious of their kids as they constantly fought, he was invisible in school, and no one bother from the adults in his surroundings to the other students who ostracized him and bullied him. I do not believe we are born evil but I do believe with the right circumstances and the right environment, everyone is easily able to fall in the deep end and cross the barrier of no return. We are in the day and age of if you ask help, you are acknowledging you have a problem and need guidance no matter the size of the issue.

I am completely in agreement that Jeff was a coward towards not seeking help and counseling regardless of the perverted thoughts that were entering to his mind. He could have made an effort but instead he fell into a whole of despair and the longer he kept digging and isolating himself just made that much easier to go into the dark side and eventually kill.

I was fascinated by this graphic novel because of the illustrations and the storytelling. Der Backderf was able to make this a personal story and showcase the reader how he and countless others perceived Jeffrey Dahmer. I find it interesting how no one knows who is going to end up as a serial killer and for Dahmer, he had all the warning signs that everyone ignored and you would never expect someone who you knew growing up would do these hideous acts of horror.

I am kind of glad I read this because it gave me a different perspective on life and the choices we make and everyone says that serial killers are all insane and do not know what they are doing is wrong until they get caught and I tend to disagree. This entire book showcases the struggle that Dahmer suffered with all these perverted thoughts and he was complete sane when he made the decision to start killing. Between countless interviews and his honest testimony, he was more than willing to provide all the details of his killings and how normal it was discussing them as if we are having a friendly conversation between you and I. 

I have this weird feeling after reading this book and I do not know exactly why I feel this way and I believe its a mixture of disgust and pity. I was intrigued by this story and I rate it 5 stars for the fascinating storytelling and illustrations but I do not ever want to read this book again in my lifetime. There is no happy ending, no moments of laugher, but memories of youth and sadness. 

We live in a culture that loves watching real life violence and the author provides interviews that you can watch and I tell myself that I am definitely not interesting in watching anything about him. I do not need to see videos of them entering his house and apartment, I understand the extent of his gruesome acts and I do not need to watch anything of that to leave an imprint of the horror in my memories. I highly recommend this book for those who are into murder and serial killers but also those who was a different perspective of this man's youth.

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