Tattle Diary Entry #4: The Weird Gender & Age Ratio In The Hannibal Fandom
Since I started my blog for Hannibal on Tumblr back in 2013 (then quickly got rid of it because people on there are assholes) I’ve wondered why the fandom demographic for the show is so weird. It seems that it’s 99% female, for one, and for two, it seems a crap ton of the fandom are either super old women or very young girls. There seems to be an in between group of 20 something year olds but mostly it’s just old women or people under the age of 18. The key demo for the show, if you bother to look it up, was something like 18-25 year old men. Not, well, what it actually got in way of fans.
Part of this, I theorize, has to do with the fact that the show was marketed almost exclusively on Tumblr when it first started. After the first season it did branch out, kind of, to regular ads and TV promos but before that most of the advertising was done on Tumblr. This is only super weird because the demographic NBC was marketing to with that show (or should have been marketing to) was what I mentioned. 18-25 year old men. It was a crime drama about an iconic horror villain. NBC would have known this before airing the show because networks know what their key demo is supposed to be, in order to be able to market to them and make money. Why they let Fuller primarily advertise the show on Tumblr (where the demographic of users is like 13-20 year old females) I have no idea.
As for the “appeal” of the show to the young girls, spanning the ages of 14-20 or so I can see the appeal, sort of. Mostly because Tumblr is very well known for a few things such as:
Fetishizing age gap in relationships where the female is vastly younger than the male
Weird looking but still insanely handsome European actors
Gay relationships (especially between two attractive men)
I can only fathom that Fuller knew this somehow, already, and since it was clear that he wanted to ship Hannibal and Will himself (and still does ship them himself) he decided the best market to advertise to were people who were going to agree with him. Still, the actual content of the show should have been very off putting at least to minors, given how gory and dark it is. It’s also dialogue heavy, which (at least in my opinion) typically doesn’t attract teenage girls.
With how some of these girls behave, I question if a lot of them ever even watched the show. It’s possible they just saw the aesthetic on Tumblr (as well as all the gay fan art and whatever) and then pretended they watched it. Started to reblog pictures and art without ever having seen the show and then stuck with it because Mads Mikkelsen is “such a daddy” and so is Hugh Dancy. I do remember in season two there was a promo with Will Graham in the electric chair being executed and a bunch of these young girls were screaming “YOU NEED TO TAG TRIGGER ALERTS!”. This is when I found out that there were legitimately people in the fandom claiming to be triggered by GORE and BLOOD and they couldn’t SEE it on their blogs or else they’d have some kind of super panic attack. Which leads me back to wondering how they were even watching the show if they couldn’t see a screenshot of it or a gif of it without being triggered. It was just stuff in the show. The show you are allegedly a fan of. Why are you triggered by the content of this show that badly and if you are, how do you watch it and why are you still watching it?
If you go through some of the videos I posted (specifically the cringe compilations) you can see that there are clearly girls in the fandom that are not adults, and at least one of them looks like she’s 12. I started watching X-Files when I was 14 and though I’m sure I was not the target demographic for that, I also wasn’t being insane on the internet like a little shit head all the time and demanding everything have a trigger warning. I knew the content of the show and I enjoyed it.
Even more concerning is the fact that there are a crap ton of older women in the fandom. I mean ranging from ages 40-60 years old, consistently interacting with very young girls and minors. There is one blog, she claims to be a mother and an English professor who writes essays exclusively to her very young teenage girl following. Not just normal essays but ones about how it’s okay for Hannibal (an older male) to be in love with Abigail (a teenage girl and a minor in season one). Some of these women, in their 40s and 50s see absolutely no problem getting together with teenagers and reading them adult fan fiction. Explicit adult erotica. Because it’s Hannigram. These women see no issue with sharing their erotica with teenagers and I would assume in some cases minors because of what they post on their blogs. Since they all meet up in real life, a lot, and everyone knows what blog everyone runs, this would denote that 45 year old women are completely fine with people they know are minors, following their porn blogs and doing nothing about it.
There’s also, almost, no men in the fandom. At all. I mean directly in the fandom as in the hardcore members who attend the conventions. I won’t say there aren’t males who are fans of the show, but what I’m specifically talking about are the fannibals. The ones that shell out thousands of dollars each year to fly to Europe and hang out with their “Family” even though what they really mean is a cult. The point is if you look at these conventions 99% of what you will see in attendance there are females or female identifying people or biological females. As in, there are a lot of female to male transgender people. It’s actually rare that I see a man at one of these events that is definitely a biological man and identifying as such. It’s like these conventions are overrun by women for some reason.
Then we have the fact that Bryan Fuller has to know this to some extent because he inappropriately interacts with the fandom and overly engages them not just on social media but in real life. He goes to lunch with them and hangs out with them as if they are real friends. This dude has to know he has 12-14 year old fans watching Hannibal which means he’s entirely okay with promoting explicit gay erotic art to them on his timeline on Twitter which he does A LOT. I know it’s not his fault that minors follow him or like Hannigram but he does have the ability to control himself on his own social media especially since he has to be aware this is the case. He’s too involved with his fandom, it’s creepy, he knows who’s in it.
What we have here is a show that’s actual key demo was supposed to be adult men. It somehow gained a huge cult following of females, minors and middle aged, and almost all of them are lesbians too. Or some kind of queer or trans or something. It’s a very weird demographic for that specific content. Once again, I’m specifically referencing the MOST DEVOTED AND MOST INSANE Fannibals. The really loud ones who cry that you are harassing them if you say Hannigram isn’t canon or something. Those people. The ones who made flower crowns the trademark symbol of the show, which a predominantly male fan base would not do.
It also begs the question of “where are the parents?”. Now, I get that parents can’t or really don’t control what kids watch on TV or on the internet anymore. They didn’t do it when I was a kid either. However, they have to be allowing their kids to go to these conventions? Taking them in some cases? How is that cool? Not to mention the fact that they apparently just never monitor what their children are doing on social media or what they are looking at. Never even checking in on their kid to see what kind of content they may be consuming. As much as my parents didn’t control what I watched on TV they at least looked at the shows I was watching and decided if it was okay for a 14 year old to watch or not. At the time it was annoying but I can see, as an adult, how it’s fair to do that. Maybe you don’t want your 14 year old exposed to murder and cannibalism. Maybe there’s a reason for the TV-MA rating on a show. Maybe you should check out what your kids are watching and who they are hanging out with at conventions.
At the end of the day, what we have here is a cult fandom of 40-60 year old women regularly engaging with very young (sometimes minor) girls and sharing explicit gay fan fiction and erotic art with them, for some reason. No one thinks this is weird or creepy, and parents apparently just DON’T check on what their kids watch anymore? What the hell is going on?