more stars than in the heavens

not in our stars, but in ourselves

necessary. evil?


Back to the land of dreams, or nightmares, whichever.  Obviously, I have been excited beyond measure for the return of Hannibal.  And I have not been disappointed: the second season is, thus far, a phantasmagoria of horror and black humor and food porn.  What more could you want from a TV show?

Perhaps because I have nothing else going on in my life, I’ve become one of those people who think a lot about TV shows.  You should all thank your lucky stars I don’t write for Salon or something, because I could go Wank-Fest Think Piece with this very, very easily.  Anyway, here goes.  Mads Mikkelsen, when asked (somewhat unimaginatively) whether he agrees that he brings a new sexiness to the role of Hannibal Lecter, replied: “Well, there is a sexiness to the devil. And I think he is as close as you can come to the devil, in the sense that the devil has no reasons. Other serial killers have reasons to do what they do — their childhood, something their mother did. But he is not like that; he is not like other serial killers.”

Hannibal - Season 2

Now, I think that’s a pretty good point.  Insightful, panther-like Mads.  But I’ve been thinking, too, about Hannibal in light of his oft-mentioned (or at least alluded to) aversion to rudeness.  Many of his victims are rude, crude, vulgar, etc.  Maybe Hannibal is the devil in some ways – what he’s doing to Will Graham, for instance – but in other ways, he shares the same mission statement and modus operandi as Krampus.


Who the hell is Krampus? you ask.  Well!  In Alpine folklore, he is the dark side of Christmas.  Where Santa rewards good behavior with gifts, Krampus punishes naughty children by carrying them away to his mountain lair in a sack.  He puts the fear of God in them, and then they either return home (promising to be good little children next year) or get eaten or something*.  I mean, I don’t know; I was always a good kid.

To my friends’ dismay, I have become slightly obsessed with Krampus.  Rather than view him as a creepy demon, I have taken to viewing him as a corrective agent: an unpleasant but useful force for something like justice.  I even put up a bunch of Krampuskarten at my desk when the rest of my workplace was festooned with Christmas regalia. 

2013-12-17 10.49.57

This was all that got me through the holidays this year.

Now, call me crazy, but I see quite a lot of Krampus in Hannibal.  Again – not in terms of his relation to Will Graham.  In that, he is indeed the devil.  But in his tendency to target the rude, the cruel, the blindly horrible, he is quite a lot like Krampus.  No, I don’t advocate killing people.  Let me go on the record with that right now.  Maybe we should scare the hell out of them once in a while, though.  Like a Krampus, like a Joker, like a Hannibal – show them, by whatever means necessary, the error of their dreadful ways.  Frighten them into appreciating life, into treating people better.  It won’t really work, but it would be nice to think that something could change them.

*Of course, nineteenth-century Germans seemed to be terribly interested in the concept of scaring kids half to death in order to ensure their good behavior.  See also: Struwwelpeter.

Poor Little Suck-a-Thumb.

Poor Little Suck-a-Thumb.

47 comments on “necessary. evil?

  1. Amlakyaran
    March 28, 2014

    very nice post … thanks

  2. deltakon
    March 28, 2014

    Reblogged this on deltakon.

  3. jmcapurso
    March 28, 2014

    Reblogged this on Jennifer Capurso, CMP.

  4. zobop republic
    March 29, 2014

    Hello. Would you believe I learned about Krampus on the TV show “American Dad”.

    • mcwhirk
      March 29, 2014

      Every now and then, Seth MacFarlane knows what’s up.

  5. HeIsWritten
    March 29, 2014

    Reblogged this on Bleeding Ink.

  6. totallyrandomgoodadvice
    March 29, 2014

    Interesting post. I would believe that there’s more than just Krampus torturing kids to get them to behave. I’ll have to do some research!

  7. lovewinsuganda
    March 29, 2014

    “Like a Krampus, like a Joker, like a Hannibal – show them, by whatever means necessary, the error of their dreadful ways” Or like a certain movie called Saw!

    Interesting post.

    • rhetor001
      March 29, 2014

      Indeed. Saw was nice. Sadist, but nice

  8. ironeaagle
    March 29, 2014

    A European Pedro Negro….. Funny how morbid Christmas can be.

    • spikey1one
      March 29, 2014

      Have a look at the film ‘Santa’s Slay’.

  9. josielynch11
    March 29, 2014

    Really enjoyed reading this! Particularly your interest in the rudeness, crudeness, and vulgarity of the ‘victims’. It seems to be a form of extremely perverse vigilantly justice. A reasonless justice.

  10. girlforgetful
    March 29, 2014

    Hannibal Rising explained somewhat his reason for becoming a serial killer – a rather horrific childhood experience with Nazi Germans brought about the Hannibal we love to fear.

    • mcwhirk
      March 29, 2014

      It will be interesting to see how NBC’s Hannibal handles that question – or if they don’t bother. Since it takes place in the here and now, and since this Hannibal couldn’t possibly have seen his sister eaten by Nazis during World War II, that probably isn’t and can’t be the case. I wonder if Bryan Fuller will offer any explanation for why this Hannibal does what he does, or if he’ll keep him more as a reasonless devil/demon (or Krampus).

  11. 1pointperspective
    March 29, 2014

    Cure thumb sucking with amputation, performed by a ginger running with scissors no less. Those wacky Germans!

    • mcwhirk
      March 29, 2014

      You can’t suck what you don’t have. That’s just medical science.

  12. Terry Robinson
    March 29, 2014

    You, my friend , have quite the active imagination!

  13. rhetor001
    March 29, 2014

    Reblogged this on rhetor001 and commented:
    Nice work

  14. jonznprince
    March 29, 2014

    Reblogged this on jonznentertain.

  15. purpleperceptions
    March 29, 2014

    I like the parallel, lol. The show itself is pure genius. Practically no one roots for poor ol’ Will. We’re like a giant serial killer fan club! :p

  16. fatuoushuman
    March 29, 2014

    Reblogged this on My Fatuous existence.

  17. robertlampros
    March 29, 2014

    Whenever I hear the phrase, “by any means necessary,” I think of Saint Peter in the Garden of Gethsemene. He chops off the ear of a Roman guard in defense of Jesus. Saving God’s life is a pretty good cause after all. Jesus says, “No more of this,” and heals the soldier’s ear with a touch. We’re done trading evil for evil.

  18. lmarks04
    March 29, 2014

    People want to identify with these crazy killers because they want to find the good in them. It’s human nature to try to understand messed up people. Good post.

  19. jasmersingh
    March 29, 2014

    Nice said

  20. dtdeedge
    March 29, 2014

    I have stumbled into an odd place now,
    Haven’t I?
    Krumpus and Hannibal?
    I do believe I should have walked away
    From the bottle marked,
    “Drink me”
    And do foregone
    This trip down the rabbit hole!
    Curiouser and curiouser.

  21. kenzie1969
    March 30, 2014

    Loved this. Good points

  22. Baad Seher
    March 30, 2014

    hehehe I like your post and wish Krampus carry away some adults too

  23. Jeremy Podolski
    March 30, 2014

    Strange bedfellows… yet an apt analogy it seems. Plus no shortage of creepy art to illustrate the point.

  24. hydeouscreature
    March 30, 2014

    You, and yours has been fun relishing, I love it! :). I wish, I could be the Krampus to get rid of the vile garbage though, I just cannot let someone else, be it Karma, to retaliate… ;).

  25. daniellemcfarlane
    March 30, 2014

    How could Mikkelsen say that Hannibal doesn’t have reasons for killing? HELLO did he not read Hannibal Rising?

    • mcwhirk
      March 30, 2014

      I think he’s basing it solely on the NBC version of Hannibal, which is inspired by (but not a slave to) Red Dragon. It will be interesting to see what happens in future seasons, though: whether they offer any justification for why this Hannibal is the way he is.

  26. elgiorgio111
    March 31, 2014

    I was always interested in this particular subject, thanks you for sharing.

  27. amnasaif
    March 31, 2014

    Reblogged this on No Beach For Little Boys.

  28. bringreaner
    April 1, 2014

    Wow, interesting. I hadn’t heard of krampus before but it seems to fit really well.

  29. Mihaela
    April 2, 2014

    Hannibal is one of my favorite TV shows… can’t wait to see what happens next.

  30. lordsatanaku
    April 4, 2014

    Reblogged this on lordsatanaku and commented:
    I am a fan of HANNIBAL series, so here it goes…

  31. Kristina Harman
    April 6, 2014

    I have a weird fascination with serial killers. That’s because most of them are psychopaths, which means they are lacking empathy. So, if you are born without the ability to feel empathy, along with a compulsion to kill, I just think that’s a sad fate. Jeffrey Dahmer said, “It sucks to be the monster.” I supposed it would suck to be the monster. Anyway, love the post. I need to find out more about this struwwelpeter character:)

  32. thetruthwillout007
    April 6, 2014

    So I’ll caveat and say I’m not familiar with the show, but if it is a form of vigilante justice he’s performing, is it that he doesn’t believe the system is sufficient for justice?

    • mcwhirk
      April 6, 2014

      I think Hannibal doesn’t care particularly about the system; the people he targets usually aren’t guilty of any legal crime – or at least, the crime for which he punishes them is not the crime for which they’ve been arrested/tried/imprisoned. If you remember Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal kills a fellow inmate who threw semen on Clarice. A disgusting act, and unspeakably rude, but not one for which the inmate would have been thrown into a maximum security prison for the criminally insane.

  33. I’m not sure – Beverley Katz, Miriam Lass?

    • mcwhirk
      April 13, 2014

      Those two would certainly be arguments in favor of Hannibal-as-Satan. What he did to Abigail Hobbs, too, was far beyond the realm of any sort of justification; and the way he’s manipulating Alana promises to end only in tears and/or blood. Many of his murders, however, seem to be reactions to rudeness and vulgarity. Not all – but many.

      • I don’t think murder in response to perceived vulgarity is necessarily a good thing, I mean is it really a crime worthy of death? Maybe he’s just a snob, whatever, I love this show and mads mikkelsen is a fantastic Hannibal

      • mcwhirk
        April 13, 2014

        Let me go on the record and reiterate that I do not approve of killing people to punish them for being jerks. But yes, Mads is flawless – ***flawless, even – and the show is incredible.

  34. adarawrites
    April 20, 2014

    Intriguing… Nice!!

  35. Pingback: Gruss vom Krampus | more stars than in the heavens

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