not in our stars, but in ourselves
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.”
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.
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.