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Hannibal, Slash Fandom, and Queer Media Visibility

by Ethan Tussey

by Melanie Kohnen for IN MEDIA RESWhen I first saw the scene in the S3 finale in which Will Graham presses his hand against the glass wall of Hannibal Lecter's cell, I was reminded of three things: a similar scene inStar Trek II, a quote by Henry Jenkins about slash, and a fan vid inspired by Jenkins' quote. The quote goes as follows: Slash happens when you take away the glass. The glass, for me, is often more social than physical; the glass represents those aspects of traditional masculinity which prevent emotional expressiveness or physical intimacy between men (source). Jenkins references theStar Trek IIscene in which Kirk and Spock press their hands against one another through a glass wall as Spock dies.Star Trekis also the text which inspired contemporary slash fandom, which pushes back against the constraints of heteronormativity. While it is usually up to fandom to take away the glass, my video essay shows howHannibalshatters the glass within the text itself. Hannibalthus deviates from a pattern that thingswithwing's vid The Glass shows so well. Through clips drawn from numerous film and TV series showing characters separated by glass walls, the vid demonstrates both how thoroughly heteronormativity polices same-sex relationships and how fans refuse such policing. The relationship between Will and Hannibal might seem to fall into the same pattern: both men are drawn to one another, a sentiment that is rendered in dialogue and gesturesin other words, it is ready-made for slash. In many cases (SupernaturalorTeen Wolfcome to mind), both text and extratextual discourses may tease but ultimately deny that anything beyond normative male friendship is at work. Not so inHannibal: showrunnerBryan Fullerand actorsHugh DancyandMads MikkelsenhavediscussedWill and Hannibal as being in love throughout the show's three seasons. Noqueerbaitinghere. The latter half of season three turns Hannigraminto text: Is Hannibal in love with me? Will asks in 3x12, receiving an affirmative answer. In the final scene of the season, Will returns this love by joining Hannibal inmurder, and declares their joint act beautiful before resting his head on Hannibal's chest, all while Love Crime, a song written for this episode, plays in the background.

Hannibal and Fandom

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A clip from Hannibal

from Hannibal (2015)
Creator: Fox
Distributor: Vimeo
Posted by Ethan Tussey