Hannibal gets a D Minus from a Feminist Perspective – Provocative Blog Post

Check this link on Me and Richard Hannibal Doesn’t Do Rape Stories. Bitch Please, for an insightful and provocative feminist literary critique of Hannibal.  Servetus was spurred by a Ms. Magazine article, to write about something she’s been stewing over, to wit: Bryan Fuller’s, and Richard Armitage’s discussions on the decision to show no rape scenes in the Dolarhyde arc of Hannibal.

If you read, keep in mind that the critique  relies on the principles of  feminine literary critique, so it is focused in that direction.

Also keep in mind that Bryan Fuller did some gender switching from the original novels.

One doesn’t need a strict feminism perspective to decide that the regular or recurring women characters  in this series are victims and patsies, and often bland ones at that, while the men in recurring or starring roles are the doers. Even Will Graham and Jack Crawford were willing to use Freddie Lounds as bait. Aside from that, in other ways, Will strikes me as almost asexual, ( there was no chemistry with Alana – not an ounce). I’ve been complaining about these women since I started writing about Hannibal. The new wife is no better.

In answer to the first comment on the blog, Servetus,suggests:

I am saying only that when {Armitage]  says he couldn’t have done this show if he’d had to rape / murder on screen, he is not being honest with himself about the role that rape plays either in this show or in the life story / construction of his own character.

Was  he quite honest with himself, but maybe, not with the public or his fans when he told us  that he didn’t perform the murders/rapes on screen because having to do so would have been a deal breaker? He read the book. He knew what Dolarhyde does. He knew the reasons for the Red Dragon’s signatures. He knew. And he acted rape before, in the audio performance of Clarissa.

As to Fuller, the most he promised was that he wouldn’t depict rape on the screen ( without more time?) and that he was a feminist who loved women.


7 thoughts on “Hannibal gets a D Minus from a Feminist Perspective – Provocative Blog Post

  1. I see your point of view in the feminist sense.
    Would it have mattered of the gender of rape? Instead rape of woman, would it have been okay if Dollarhyde was raping the husbands instead of the wives? What if they threw in Will Graham being raped by Hannibal or Dollarhyde?
    In my opinion, rape is rape regardless of gender, age, race, and etc.
    I think Bryan Fuller’s decision to leave out the rape scenes was smart because it would probably have taken away the artistry and execution of how the story was being told. All I would be thinking about is how despicable Dollarhyde was with no redeeming qualities about him. Plus, they would probably need more episodes to explain why we should feel any sort of sympathy for him after raping the women. The series would just drag on and be redundant in its storytelling.
    On the matter of the rape in Clarissa, the audience does not get to visually see the physical act. You only hear the rape, which Richard Armitage does not visually perform. I don’t think this scene in Clarissa compromised his morals about the subject since all he did was make a bunch of noise to simulate the act. The audience is given limited perception to understand what was fully happening. In a way, the rape scene reminded me of the orgasm scene with Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally.


    • Exactly my thoughts, what BF did not want to do is showing the scenes graphically, Dr. Lecter somewhat suggested it, but it is not showed.


    • @Duke I’m actually passing along someone else’s point of view, as I don’t usually analyze things from a feminist perspective, and therefore, some of the examples cited in the first part of blog post might not have sparked ( or didn’t spark) the same sort of reaction in me – which doesn’t mean I didn’t notice the inferior characterizations of most of the female leads, their victimization and, in some cases, seemingly superfluous scenes. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed the analysis in the first part.
      My primary interest in the post is the point about Bryan Fuller’s and Richard Armitage’s stated views on depicting rape, and what I saw as some misplaced self-righteousness for not actually showing rape scenes.
      The term “rape” in our language is used in more ways than one. Of course, there is the strict definition, “forcible sexual relations against one’s will,” and many examples of “against one’s will” and “forcible.” ( the law on lack of consent has been evolving). Technically, Dolarhyde’s intercourse with corpses isn’t deemed rape in a legal sense.
      But “rape” is also defined as an act of plunder, violent seizure, or abuse; despoliation; violation. Thus, some of the examples in the post qualify as rape, both literally and metaphorically, as I read it
      Which brings to to your question about male rape. Using the second definition, I would say Will Graham was raped by Hannibal and in one or two cases, by Jack. Especially Hannibal, who, though not sexually, plundered, seized,despoiled and abused Will without involving and genitalia. He raped his mind, his brain, which is, in my view, as personal and intimate an organ as a vagina or penis. And stretching a little further, Hannibal committed these acts on a disabled person. Of course, this sort of behavior is more often covered by ethical standards for psychiatrist interacting with patients, but the violation in such acts, is like a rape.
      What I appreciated most about the opinions in the post, and some of the mirrored my own reactions to Fuller and Armitage, is that the explanations for the line Fuller drew are dubious, not born out by the series, but, they have both seemingly successfully promoted that party line – at least according to Ms. Magazine and other media outlets.
      Perhaps the post and comments will promote a further, closer look.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hm, i think we’ve touched upon the point about the female characters before. Still unsubstantial, still boring etc.
    As to the violence, including the rape. I think, but that is just my opinion nothing more, that RA is actually quite a bit squeamish. More than i thought he would be having signed on to this. This is just based on the examples he gave as disturbing from the series which i personally didn’t find that disturbing. But my definition of disturbing is different from his. I think he’s talked Dolarhyde up for himself in order to play him, or focused on the parts that were interesting to him and away from the actual deeds. But i also think a lot of the fans have done the same in order to watch him in the role.
    He clearly also talked himself into the idea that if he doesn’t act them out in detail he can abstract from them, even if in edit they actually piece the acts together quite close to the detail.
    I decided for myself to basically ignore all the chatter both he and Fuller did about the roles, first because it spoiled a lot of the first episode for me and secondly because i found the actual series and what it showed quite different from all these assumptions and theories. Essentially it remains horror, with all the violence this entails, my understanding of not showing the disturbing is clearly no theirs which may originate in my general unfamiliarity of the genre and what s light under these circumstances. I felt in the last episode there was much more of the ‘rape’ imagery and the actual murders than i was lead to believe would be shown. Or if we can’t actually terms it rape, the auto-erotic component of the murders in my opinion wad crystal clear. They would have actually had to show body parts to be more graphic than they were. Also, really does it make any difference if it is Will or Dolarhyde who we see doing the murders? They certainly replayed that quite a few times this episode. The series just is what it is, we can each decide to pretty it up and pick and choose things to make it more palatable. I do it too and distract myself with the jokes. But by trying to do what i normally do, ie re-watch, even if only partially to try and clarify some things for myself i realised that i have a limit to what i can take, 4 times with the last one even with fast forward has been too much and i am having trouble shaking some images loose. Just can’t be treated like other things because it deals with that much violence.
    I fully agree with you that what happens to Will is rape and it happens again and again. Which is why for example Molly’s joke about his young criminal mind made me very very uncomfortable :-S
    So, i don’t buy what they are selling per se, for one because Fuller is selling and RA is selling to himself as much as to the audience. Given my own reactions i can’t blame him, i have a hard time dealing with it, even though i’ve watched it all until now. Can’t imagine how one must work to actually act these things out and not feel like some sludge sticks to your mind.
    Having said all this i do feel on some level it has gotten worse in the series because the previous murders were in a way abstracted, objectified, detached in their imagery but we saw much less of the acts, i feel we are seeing much more of it with Dolarhyde.
    Good for those who actually have the ability to turn this into entertainment, it trips me over repeatedly and very little of it is enjoyable at all. It is more a rational exercise of dissection and puzzling out for me at the moment. I thought i’d feel attracted or some sympathy, but that’s not really happening.
    I just don’t think standards apply to this as they would to normal drama etc and if i am really really honest too i’ll admit that standards of what is presented in horror movies don’t preoccupy me all that much because i don’t consider it mainstream, significant, influential on significant scale. It is and will always be niche and OTT and surreal in many ways. And i don’t intend to go back to it after this so won’t know or care what happens in it. I mean, no offence, but i am not going to pretend i’ll have a long term interest in this genre 🙂 My interest will stop with RA.


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