Opinion: Escaping the world through crime podcasts

Megan Keane, Columnist

A study came out in the Journal of Radio and Media in 2018 about the predominantly female true crime audience and their motivation for listening to five or more hours of true crime podcasts a day. 

As a true crime junkie, I looked into this study in my free time and found some of the results to be expected, and some of them were a little morbid.

You know how research works. Basically, the authors of the study gave true crime fans a series of questionnaires to determine their motivation and gratification for preferring and consuming media of the true crime genre. 

Collecting that data, they had some results. They discuss those results and their implications. 

What are the three motivating factors for listening to true crime podcasts, watching true crime movies/TV shows and reading true crime? Social interaction, escapism and voyeurism. 

Now, when I say voyeurism, I’m not talking about what you’re thinking about. It’s not a sexual deviance. When looking at voyeurism as a motivator in a true crime audience member, we’re talking about being nosy. 

Consumers of the true crime genre—majority being female—love to have a peek into someone else’s life, mind and misdeeds. That’s what they mean by voyeurism. 

I’m acting like I knew what they meant when I first looked at the study—I didn’t. I saw that voyeurism was a top motivator for true crime consumers and I spent an hour wondering if I was a sexual deviant. 

Good news: I’m not. But, I do like to examine the motivations of serial killers and often wonder what their motives were—so, there’s that. 

The escapism makes sense. True crime is healthy mix of entertainment and news. It blurs those lines. 

When you read a book, whether or not you want to, you escape. When you watch a movie or a TV show, you escape. When you play a video game, you escape. So, it makes sense that consumers of the true crime genre would use it as an escape. 

The more morbid reason female audience members consume true crime is to see what could happen to them. 

You get insight onto how a predator thinks, what they look for and victims’ past mistakes. A lot of the cases covered are cases that involve violence against women because there’s a ton of violence against women. 

Let’s be honest, all of these cases are sad. It’s about people being murdered. Sometimes, it’s about children being murdered—which gives me another reason to not reproduce. Or, if I do reproduce, to keep my children in a box in a hole under a rock. The fact that female audience members use them as a sort of learning tool floors me—but, then I realized, I do it, too. 

So, if you were ever wondering why your friend listens to true crime podcasts or why your mom or grandma watches Dateline, this is why. My next question is, why do I like to listen to true crime ASMR? Stay tuned for more answers. 

Megan Keane is a English and psychology major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected]