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'Hannibal': For the Love of All Mankind

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Hannibal | February 26, 2014 | Comments ()


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Hannibal is back, yo. In the patented Friday night death slot, but then the ratings for this masterpiece can’t get any lower, so I don’t think much is going to change in that regard. I wrote about it last summer in the middle of its wonderful first season, and one thing I said was:

“Notice that to a lesser or greater degree every murder on “Hannibal” is one of art, one of constructing something that to the killer’s mind, is beautiful. They are all trying to build something, sculpting with human flesh as the clay.”

This kept coming back to me at times, rolling around down there in the black. See, across fiction, the scenes that always have eaten at me, haunted me, stuck with me aren’t the ones that are necessarily gruesome. Not necessarily from horror movies and the like. They’re the ones where someone is simply dispatched. You know, the execution, the shot to the back of the head, the casual cutting of a throat. Those images rip away at me.

But Hannibal’s killers, they kill in order to create. They find value in human beings. It’s twisted, gross, and not even remotely resembling what a normal person would call ‘value’, but it’s there nonetheless. They’re the antithesis of that monster that bothers me the most. Because they love people, they absolutely love them, the way that an artist loves his paints or a writer loves her words.

Hannibal’s not a true monster. True monsters are nihilists. What makes them so terrible is that they don’t care at all. They don’t torture, they don’t mutilate, they just turn people off like light switches without even a blip on the emotional radar. Ask the millions of dead in unmarked graves of the last century, because that’s the murder that the industrial age perfected.

Hannibal, though, he does everything he does out of love for mankind.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Pants_are_a_must

    The definition of "monster" is not unison, you know. Hannibal is most certainly a monster. Even though he perceives and feels empathy, it does not stop him from being exceptionally cruel to people, even people he feels empathy towards.

  • RilesSD

    Can not fucking wait until Friday.

  • Maximumleader

    I see the point you are making, but must disagree. Killers like Hannibal & the others on the show don't love mankind as mankind. They love mankind as objects to be manipulated into something else. I don't believe that the type of objectified love you describe counts as love at all.

  • Yeah -- I've been trying to make sense of this sentence for awhile now:

    "Hannibal’s not a true monster. True monsters are nihilists."

    It's a fancy rhetorical flourish, but it doesn't really give us anything but a false category, right?

  • Maximumleader

    The line I am hung up on is:

    "Because they love people, they absolutely love them, the way that an artist loves his paints or a writer loves her words."

    I am not a professional artist or writer, but I am willing to say that even among the most passionate artists their love of their work wouldn't supersede the love they would have for their family, children or even humanity. The tools of the artist's trade are used to exhalt, challenge, critique, or glorify humanity. They are not in themselves more exhaled, challenged, critical, or glorious than humanity. That is where I have to disagree with Steven.

  • [I love the book-discussion-group aspect our conversation has. "Okay, but help me with THIS part -- and anyway Marta would NEVER do that in a million years so I don't know why the author tried for that plot line at all."]

    My problem with the SOYLENT GREEN IS A COLOR AND THAT COLOR IS A PAINT AND THAT PAINT IS A PERSON argument is: again, all rhetorical flourish, little information.

    If we break it down, artists actually don't love the paint as much as they love the Work. They may love working with a certain medium (or Extra Large if you're Botero or Rubens and that was a SOLID Art History joke and YOU'RE WELCOME the two of you who just high-fived the screen), but they no more love a color than a killer loves a person whom he's killing. In a sense, the medium is necessary for the work, but an artist doesn't become an artist because she loves cerulean blue.

    They don't "find value in human beings." In the world of the show, the killers need humans for their raw resources, but not any one victim's humanity.

    What I just can't get aboard is this idea that serial killers are demented besotted artists. They're mentally broken people who commit monstrous acts.

  • SVR

    I don't think this particular scheduling change qualifies for "Friday night death slot." I know traditionally Friday is where shows go to die, but Grimm is in it's 3rd season and will almost certainly get a fourth. It's obviously a far, far, far inferior show when compared to Hannibal, but it is frequently gory and occasionally creepy. I feel like it makes way more sense to pair it with Hannibal than what NBC did last season. Wasn't it on after The Office for heaven's sake?

  • Ian Fay

    Bryan Fuller just did the Nerdist Writer's Panel podcast. Very interesting info about all his series.

    He even talks about the Munsters. /cry.

  • Pants_are_a_must

    I loved that podcast. Anyone who loves TV should listen to that podcast, particularly writers.

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