Tattle Diary Entry #10: Why Are The Fannibals So Obnoxiously Obsessive?
I’m actually getting more at the fact that they are mentally ill. Basically all of them. Once again, I am referencing the specific group of hardcore fans who throw thousands of dollars at their obsession, or still run multiple Hannigram blogs day in and day out despite the show being cancelled years ago. The 200 or so women who hang around on Tumblr and Twitter and devote their lives to worshiping Bryan Fuller and their precious pairing. Those women. People have asked me why they are so obsessive and why the vast majority of them seem to have considerable problems with mental illness. The answer is pretty simple and quite obvious. The show glamorizes mental illness.
Look at Hannibal Lecter, for example. He’s a murderer and a cannibal. Now, in the past (such as the books and then later the original movies) This was framed as a bad thing. Though Hannibal Lecter in both of those materials had some level of style and good manners, he was also portrayed as monster. Described as one too. From Red Dragon all the way through Hannibal (the third novel). I don’t include Hannibal Rising for reasons I’m not going to get into here. The point is, that in the original source material and the movies based off of the original source material, Hannibal was portrayed as creepy more so than stylized, sexualized, and handsome.
However, when you take a look at the show, how is Hannibal portrayed? Well, by a very handsome Danish man. Someone who actually won the award of “Sexist Man In Denmark” at least once that I know of but actually may have won it more than that. A very tall, chiseled, Nordic looking dude. I get that he’s not to everyone’s specific standards of handsome, or sexy, and some people find him downright ugly, but let’s all just admit he has far more appeal to the ladies than Anthony Hopkins. At least, far more appeal to Tumblr aged teenage girls. They were already in love with the likes of Matt Smith, Bill Skarsgard, and Benedict Cumberatch, so Mads really fit right in there along with that. Oh Alex Skarsgard too. The thing is that as much as he may have a very specific look that only appeals to a very specific number of people, well it doesn’t mean he’s not handsome or meant to be played as such. I personally think Mads is very attractive even if I can recognize that his very severe face may not be for everyone.
They take Mads and they turn him into Hannibal Lecter. They give him amazing suits and lots of money. He’s high society, he’s a chef, he’s smart, and he’s a psychiatrist. They show him well before his incarceration as well, and at first they shy away from making him seem too evil so you can empathize with him to some extent. They also really excuse and gloss over his behavior, justify it as him taking care of Will or getting rid of rude people. Cannibalism is bad, yes, and they do show that, but they do it in such a way that it seems fancy and delicious not in the horrific way that it actually is. It’s portrayed at nice dinner parties not in some captive and horrid situation. As much as he is a “bad guy” they put very little emphasis on this. They also have him “taking care” of others, so it seems like that makes it kind of “okay” for him to do the things he does because he’s somehow benefiting society by doing these things, not destroying it. That’s why you will see so many of these over zealous fannibal family fangirls repeating the phrase “eat the rude”.
Next, we have Will Graham. They shy away from ever actually saying he’s autistic in the show but it is heavily implied. He slowly goes insane (thanks to severe mental abuse from Hannibal) until he becomes a murderer as well. Since Hannibal is portrayed in such a “good” light, with minimal focus on the murdering and cannibalism, then this also isn’t seen as a bad thing…not really. It’s justified. Will is doing it because he’s either out of control or he’s so in love with Hannibal he wants to become Hannibal. Or some third thing. There’s ways to justify Will’s violent behavior as much as Hannibal’s. Not to mention Hugh Dancy is attractive and was known in certain circles as a heart throb well before this show aired. He already had a fanbase of fangirls who were in love with him. This allows these people to justify the horrid behavior as well as identify with it. Will is weird, socially awkward, mentally ill, but it’s also completely fine because he’s totally “in love” with Hannibal. I mean by their point of view, not what actually happened in the show.
Then you couple all of this with the fact that the show portrays death as beautiful and artsy. Edgy too. You never really see a gross corpse or the reality of death, what it does to a person, how they’d actually look, the fall out of losing someone in such a way. What you see is a beautiful sculpture of the corpses left over. Very few of them were legitimately gross dead bodies. Everything was stylized to look as pretty as possible while also being as dark as possible. In the actual world if you took someone and skinned their back open to make it look like wings, or used someone’s body to grow mushrooms on, the actual reality of the horror that would create is far worse than what the show did show on screen. Perhaps it was a style choice, and perhaps it had to do with censorship, maybe both, but the reality of death and destruction of all of these things was put through a filter. Rose colored glasses.
The fandom is so full of mentally ill people because it attracted them in this manner. It excused horrible behavior because of mental illness and made them pretty, beautiful even. It went out of its way to justify the behavior of a cannibal and the horrid abuse he put another man through in order to force a bond with him. That’s what it did. It attracted people with substantial problems because it dismissed all of these problems within the main characters and wrapped it up in a very pretty bow then threw it into high society like being mentally ill was some kind of status symbol. If you add that to the fact that the first season of the show was primarily advertised through Tumblr, and we all know what types of people are on tumblr, then one can’t really be surprised that what we have left of the most hardcore and devoted fans, is a mentally ill cesspool of special snowflakes.
One must wonder what the show might have been like had it gotten a normal PR campaign. Had it been advertised like a TV show should be or usually was. What kind of audience it may have attracted (and ratings) if a different creator had been at the helm and how well the should could have done if it hadn’t catered to mentally ill and overly obsessive Tumblr fangirls. There is a longing to know what could have been and a disappointment in knowing what never can be.