Facets of Faith: the romanticization of tragedy


Hanl Brown

Staff reporter Faith Brocke expresses her emotions and experiences in her column, Facets of Faith.

Faith Brocke, Staff Reporter

If Hollywood could choose one theme to specialize in, it’d be the reenactment of real crimes, usually through the eyes of the evil mastermind themselves.

Lately, many films and limited series based around real serial killers, terrorists, and abusers have been released. From Netflix’s Dahmer to Tubi’s soon to release movie about the Heard v Depp defamation trial, directors and screenwriters have a knack for weaving facts into drama.

Though in theory incorporating cinematic techniques and plot devices into the story sounds appealing, doing so subjects the project to becoming just that—a story.

These are true experiences and utilizing the trauma of victims, their families, and those who have experienced similar circumstances creates the illusion that what occurred doesn’t matter as long as these bloodcurdling tales make serious bank for those in the industry.

This practice allows the audience to separate the reality from the fiction they’ve chosen to indulge in and treat trauma as a means to their entertainment instead of recognizing the sickening truth of each narrative. 

When creators choose to exploit the most disgusting, dark areas of a topic instead of laying it all out on the table, viewers become desensitized to the content and forget to treat these ‘characters’ as the people that they are.

Movies aren’t the extent of this—in books, often featuring historical retellings and imagines, authors allow the truth of the matter to slip between their fingers, facts getting lost in translation from their brains to the ink on the pages.

John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas details the story of a nine year old German boy living in Berlin during WWII. Throughout the story, it is revealed that he lives right by Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration camp, and ends with the boy both befriending and dying with a Jewish victim.

Without further context, the book sounds depressing at best, but the depth of the story writing process is what opened my eyes to the commodification of trauma. 

The story is solely a work of fiction, with no grounds to base each character off of, and John Boyne, who is not Jewish, wrote the first draft in under a week, with little to no research done.

In addition to that, the ending and curious nature of the main character leads the audience to sympathize with the aggressor; to believe that Nazis were unaware of the antisemitic propaganda and practices that they were following as opposed to how the Holocaust perpetuated centuries worth of bigoted beliefs prior to and as a result of these events.

The tragic, traumatic nightmares that come to life and are lived through every day should not be swept under the rug, but in that same regard, they should be told for what they are without disrespecting victims.