Friday, June 12, 2015

Update: Blood Tide Snuffs Candle--Moth Unharmed

I have to follow up on the post last week, where I whined what about being powerless before the elegance of ABC's television series Hannibal. I'm still liking Aquarius, the Flower-Power-Meets-Noir-Police-Procedural show that airs just before it. But last night's episode of Hannibal restored my critical faculties. I still watched it only in snippets, but the opening sequence was bizarre in a way that helped me get some distance, to see what bothered me about the thing.

It begins with long-suffering (and I mean that literally) FBI agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) almost mortally wounded by Lecter. This may have happened more than once over the earlier two seasons, but I seriously don't care. I think it was a dream sequence, but again, who cares? I couldn't help thinking about a quote about Titus Andronicus (maybe from Margaret Webster's Shakespeare Without Tears) "When the stage direction reads, 'Enter a messenger with two heads,' the reader can be forgiven for wondering if he's carrying them or wearing them."

Lecter holding a knife, slashes a girl's neck, also fatally wounds a stag and, of course, Graham. Then he asks for Graham's forgiveness. For what? Oh, so many things. Then blood flows from oh, so many donors. The tidal wave of blood gets deep enough that Will, helplessly wounded, sinks into it as if into a swimming pool.

What is it with magical realism and blood tidal waves? I'm no expert, but I've seen blood flowing on occasion, and it clots pretty fast unless there's hemophilia or blood thinning chemical present. However, watching Will Graham submerge in a lake of blood brought home the point to me: the blood is filmed as if it had the liquidity of wine or possibly paint, i.e., visually prettier than actual gore, although plenty of more authentic looking gore coated the actors as well.

It was blood porn. The pornification of blood (also suffering and pain). I was reminded of Cindy Gallop's insights in Make Love Not Porn on how hardcore pornographic video has created clichés and myths that have distorted an entire generation's actual experiences of sex and sensuality.

Similarly, the blood in Hannibal behaves like wine and the suffering that Hannibal inflicts on those around him is romanticized and prettified into a relationship, a dysfunctional bromance that glorifies the psychopathic killer as a hero. Oh, yeah and Graham forgives Hannibal at the end of the episode. Domestic violence mass murderer style.

It's like a conjuring trick, once you see how it's done you can't un-see it and I don't want to.

I'm now turning off masochistic anthems á la Billie Holiday's My Man ("He isn't good, he isn't true. He beats me too. What can I do?" Um, call 911? Get the hell out of there? Seek counseling?), and put on The Thrill Is Gone from B.B. King (RIP)

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