TikTok Teens Have a New Obsession: The Menendez Brothers
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There’s no telling what Gen Zers will become obsessed with next. At one point it was Tide pods. Then it was the silhouette challenge. But now, teens on TikTok have taken their newest obsession to quite a macabre place: the Menendez murders.
Seemingly out of the blue, a faction of TikTok users have become obsessed with the Menendez murders, the infamous 1989 case in which Erik and Lyle Menendez killed their wealthy parents.
But unlike the obsessed fans of cold-blooded killers like Chris Watts or Richard Ramirez, fans of the Menendezes mostly believe the brothers killed their parents. However, they insist that Erik and Lyle Menendez killed their parents in retaliation to years of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The Menendez brothers are now serving life sentences without parole for the 1989 murder of their parents.
“They didn’t do it for money,” said 16-year-old Menendez-stan Jazmine Shah to Fox 11. “[Or] because they hated their parents. They wanted the abuse to stop.”
Back in the day, the trial of the Cuban-American Menendez brothers captured the attention of the nation and became a media sensation.
The crime was incredibly unusual. It was uncommon for siblings to murder their parents together. Not to mention, the boys had a lot of privilege and were extremely wealthy.
What was even more scandalous was the Menendez brothers’ defense. They claimed that they had been tortured by years of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their parents, José and Kitty, Menéndez. Back in the early ’90s, topics like sexual abuse and incest weren’t as openly discussed as they are now. But in a post-#MeToo world, Americans have more empathy for abuse victims.
The Menendez brothers TikTok fans call themselves “Menendez Defenders and Guardians.” They have a large and active presence on various social media platforms. The TikTok videos, however, have the most engagement.
There are TikTok accounts with names like “FreeMenendezBrothers.com“, “BrothersMenendez.Justice,” and “MenendezSupporterrr“. All of these accounts have hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of likes and views. The Menendez supporters wants the brothers’ sentences to be commuted. The Menendez brothers TikTok fans want their charges downgraded from homicide to manslaughter.
While the sudden interest in a murder trial from the ’90s is confusing to some, others saw it coming. It’s a trend born out of a wave of ’90s nostalgia that is taking Gen Z by storm. “It’s a lot of kids going back, watching Court TV, seeing how everything was portrayed, but looking at it with a fresh set of eyes and a different set of values,” New York Times tech reporter Taylor Lorenz to 20/20.
As for the Erik and Lyle Menendez, who are both in jail at the R.J. Donovan Correctional Facility in San Diego, they have apparently heard of their newfound support.
Erik sent a message on YouTube thanking his “fans” for their support. As for his supporters, they’re hoping they can get justice for the brothers. “The brothers were depicted as greedy sociopaths who killed their parents for inheritance but then, I watched the trial,” said Shah. “It was so hard to ignore that there were those other things going on in that family and there was so much corroboration of the abuse.”