The Internet can be a magical place, filled with endless irreverent memes and non-sequiturs, how-to videos for installing a new headlight on your 2007 Ford Focus, and thoughtful think pieces on pop culture that sometimes are and sometimes aren’t designed to get one’s dander up. It can also be also a cesspool, overflowing with unsavory blogs, horrific images, and unspeakable nightmare fuel that you can never burn out of your mind. The truth of the matter is, cyberspace (do people still call it that?) is a minefield, where you’re one click away from discovering something either eye-opening or mentally scarring.
Yet, sometimes the Internet is home to peculiar trends which can ride the line between these two extremes. Every week, some new strange obsession or fascination gains momentum and goes viral. We all remember how thirsty Twitter suddenly became over Venom after the first full length trailer for the character's movie dropped last year. A group of fans deemed themselves “Venom Fuckers” and proclaimed their sexual urges from the digital mountaintop after witnessing the anti-hero’s tendril-like tongue and shiny, muscular physique.
Of course, fetishizing superheroes and villains is nothing new. There's a lucrative business in fans crafting sexy versions or gender-swapped cosplays of characters, for example, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But now, the Internet has a new monster-daddy in the form of real life serial killer, Ted Bundy -- and that's genuinely disturbing.
Media obsession over Ted Bundy has always been a thing. During his televised trial in 1979, he became a media darling and instant celebrity. The fascination with Bundy and his horrendous crimes has waned some since he was executed in 1989, but there has been a recent resurgence in interest. The trailer for Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile, starring Zac Efron as the charismatic literal lady killer, recently dropped, and the Netflix docu-series Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes is currently ranking in the binge-worthy arena, so everything is coming up Bundy this month. Naturally, Twitter took notice to the sudden rekindling of the Bundy flame, and the strangest of combatants against the love for the notorious serial killer came from self-proclaimed "Venom Fuckers" and "Venom Stans" after having their obsession compared to that thirst for Bundy.
This begs the question: Is one really weirder than the other? Maybe. Ted Bundy was a real world monster who brutally murdered dozens of women, so chastising someone for finding Bundy attractive in spite of his acts (or because of them) feels like it would be a natural reaction. What's odd is the pushback these people are getting when folks on social media compare their obsession to that of fans fantasizing about a hook up with Venom. Venom Stans (or at least their supporters) are crying foul regarding the comparison, while others stand firm by it. As the strange tension grows between these two factions of fetishism, even Venom writer Donny Cates weighed in on the subject in the most Donny Cates way imaginable.
Meanwhile, the rest of us are standing on the sidelines shaking ours heads and hoping 2019 isn't going to be a garbage fire, but stuff like this doesn't bode well. The biggest factor in this sort of bizarre schism is the fact-versus-fiction aspect. Bundy was a real guy, who did real, unspeakable acts of violence against innocent people. Sure, he was charming and handsome (which is why he was able to lure in so many victims), but he was a real life monster. Venom, on the other hand, is a fictional monster. And while having a desire to copulate with a fictional character can strike some people as odd, it's ultimately harmless. It doesn't perpetuate the fascination we have with real monsters.
We've seen this sort of fictional character adoration before. For a while, we were all on the "Thanos is thicc" (click if you dare) train, and, of course, "Sexy Pennywise" was all the rage for a spell. Even the robot from the Lost in Space reboot was getting leering eyes gazing at its muscular frame.
There has always been a level of shaming of people who make their desires known on social media, sometimes that shame even comes from the people who produce the content. Netflix has commented on both the Ted Bundy thirst resurgence, as well as the desire fans had to have "Danger, Will Robinson!" shouted at them during copulation.
So what does this all mean? What does this sort of bizarre rivalry and obsession say about the current social climate? Is this what the pop culture zeitgeist just is now? Who the hell knows. The one thing that is certain, however, is this sort of thing isn't going anywhere. Niche fascinations and the people who chastise them have always been around around, but rarely do we see a clash between a pair of said niches. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to 2019. Buckle up.