more stars than in the heavens

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Hannibal > everything

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Here’s a nice little article for your Sunday, in which Bryan Fuller (showrunner of Hannibal and all-around TV MVP) expresses his distaste for the lazy storytelling that is Rape As A Plot Device.  Choice quotes:

What bothers you about the way other shows approach this subject?

There are frequent examples of exploiting rape as low-hanging fruit to have a canvas of upset for the audience. The reason the rape well is so frequently used is because it’s a horrible thing that is real and that it happens. But because it’s so overexploited, it becomes callous. […] “A character gets raped” is a very easy story to pitch for a drama. And it comes with a stable of tropes that are infrequently elevated dramatically, or emotionally. I find that it’s not necessarily thought through in the more common crime procedurals. You’re reduced to using shorthand, and I don’t think there can be a shorthand for that violation— it’s an incredibly personal and intimate betrayal of something that should be so positive and healthy.

We chatted about Game of Thrones before our interview. What was your take on the controversial Sansa Stark scene?

I thought it was handled tastefully, all things considered. You could have done that scene on broadcast. […] I see why they’ve made the choices they have in the stories they’ve told, so I can’t criticize them for using that tool. […] If I was the showrunner of Game of Thrones, would I make those choices? I have no idea. But in terms of me coming into a crime procedural story on Hannibal and seeing the things I don’t like about other crime procedurals, it’s easier for me to say I don’t want that aspect in the one I’m doing.

Classy even when he’s lowkey shading other shitty shows.  What a guy.

Naturally, I posted this on Facebook, and some white fuckboy who frequently argues against anything feminist or progressive (thus showing his own ass, time and again) tried it with “but Hannibal is gory and gore is cheap and exploitative!!!!!!” I would like to tell him, and anyone else who’s never actually watched Hannibal but assumes it must just be gore for gore’s sake: there is no show on TV that more successfully avoids cheap shots than Hannibal.  There is no show on TV that more effectively explores the full scope of human fear and cruelty than Hannibal.  It’s a show that seduces you into thinking that Hannibal Lecter is a charming, fascinating creature: urbane, sophisticated, knowledgeable, even though you’re aware that he’s a serial killer and cannibal.  The show presents his “murder tableaux” as works of art.  It lures you in, as Hannibal lures in Will Graham and Alana Bloom and Jack Crawford and everyone around him; and then, in the Season 2 finale, you finally see him in the act of savagely attacking people with whom he’d formed intimate emotional attachments.  You even see his grief as he does it.  Hannibal isn’t gore for gore’s sake.  The only time it employs what any serious person could call “gore” is at the end of a long, painstakingly plotted two-season-long arc.  I mean, it’s a show about a serial killer.  It’s not some feel-good fantasia about happy middle-class white people with imaginary problems.  It’s a surprisingly in-depth exploration of a mind that most of us can never understand, and will (one hopes) never encounter – but that exists in the real world, all the same.  Few serial killers are as, shall we say, accomplished and aesthetically motivated as Dr. Lecter.  But they’re out there, and they’re worth trying to understand.  That’s no low-hanging fruit.

In other words, yes I am very excited for Season 3.

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3 comments on “Hannibal > everything

  1. Laura
    May 31, 2015

    Great stuff. I’m a huge horror fan but can’t stomach the torture stuff, or sexual violence on screen. I sometimes struggle to articulate why my particular line is drawn where it is – perhaps it’s something to do with realism? And perhaps cruelty? I don’t really know.

    I guess we all have a line – maybe rape as a plot device is over my line because, as a woman, this is one of my greatest fears, and it’s something that could actually happen?

    • mcwhirk
      June 1, 2015

      Exactly. It’s a real fear for nearly every woman in the world (if not a daily reality), and it’s stupefying to see so many lazy writers/directors rely on it for shock value – and then not to do anything more with it.

  2. Pingback: But this I know, and know full well: Hannibal, “Antipasto” | more stars than in the heavens

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