Watched Watchers and why Hannibal is hard to untangle

Okay, I would like to address NBC’s Hannibal and its subversion and enforcement of Laura Mulvey’s male gaze (see here for an outline of the male gaze), but there is SO MUCH TO SAY. There’s the relationships between characters, the relationship between camera and characters, the sexualisation of characters by the camera, plus the additional question ‘At the end of the day, all else aside, who holds the power?’ because the answer is pretty much always Hannibal.

Sadly, I am all out of spoons to write up such a piece at the moment. I tried and it’s sitting in my draft box all a tangle of notes and the like because So MUCH. Take the below image as an example.



This is what I ended up with when I started looking at who is looking and who is being looked at in season one. Red arrows indicate a one-way viewing, where one person is watching and the other is watched. This does not necessarily mean that the person being watched is unaware of this position, merely that they are not watching the other person in return. For example, Will is aware that Jack Crawford is keeping an eye on him but he doesn’t feel the need to devote any effort to watching Jack. Green arrows mean that the people involved are watching and being watched by the subject of their gaze. The looking is not always equal, Chilton watches Hannibal because Hannibal approached him on the subject of unorthodox therapies, however, he is woefully blind as to Hannibal’s true nature. Nonetheless, he is watching Hannibal and Hannibal is keeping a bored eye on him as well.

This is season one. Seasons two and three have multiple story arcs, with characters coming and going, so they get a lot more complicated. While on the surface it seems easy to define the male gaze as ‘male watcher/female watched’, individual relationships and power exchanges make the lines a little more grey. So sadly, I will have to return to this tangle of strings when my brain is better able to follow them.


Next up. Who wants to see me draw up a character profile of Hannibal Lecter to explain his attractiveness?


About frenzysista

Hannah has often been informed that she is intelligent and has the potential to achieve great things. She generally agrees that the potential could be there but is also a terrible procrastinator and lazy to boot. She currently resides in Victoria and lavishes about 38% of her attention on studying the mystical thing that is the creative arts. The other 62% of her time is divided unevenly between celebrating her fandoms online, sleeping, learning how not to talk to people and saving the world. Oh, and writing. Definitely that thing. In other words, you're reading the thoughts of one highly opinionated, entirely sleep deprived fangirl-y adult
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