Please share your theory on Hannibal's humor.
Alright, everybody buckle up, it’s time for me to wax poetic on why I do what I do with this piece of trash blog.
But first, an art lesson.
Chiaroscuro is an Italian term that refers to a high level of contrast in a piece of art; basically, having lots of dark darks and light lights. If you hit up my boy Caravaggio’s Judith Beheading Holofernes (warning: dude’s getting his head cut off but like you watch ‘Hannibal’ so it’s cool), you’ll see it in prime action. It’s dramatic, it’s eye-catching, and I absolutely love it.
‘Hannibal’ is big on chiaroscuro– that’s why it’s so physically dark, as if Bryan Fuller blew the lighting budget on fake blood and spent the remaining $2.57 of his lunch money on glo-sticks for the crew to use. Sure, it may be hard to make out some details at times, but without the intense darkness, we couldn’t get brilliant shots like this:
I mostly included this one because I think his expression is really funny (I mean that’s some next-level scoff) but it also does illustrate my point, which is a win-win.
Alright, alright, mean-cannibals, we get it– you go to art school. What the heck does this have to do with comedy?
Everything. This has everything to do with comedy, and such, how I believe our fandom works.
‘Hannibal’ is a really, really dark show when it comes to the storyline; I mean, it’s a show about a serial-killing cannibal, what did you expect? But I’m not only talking about classic horror “slash-em-up, jump-out-and-yell-’boo!’“ darkness, either– the psychological darkness “exploiting everyday fears” factor is off the chain as well. That’s why, I believe, Hannibal is such a successful horror series.
But alas, I digress: establishing that Hannibal has that big time darkness is only one side of the story. There’s actually a whole lot of light going on, too, if you know where to look.
I think the best example of content chiaroscuro is Hannibal Lecter, himself. Yes, he is a serial killing cannibal, but he’s also a former-surgeon-turned-psychiatrist. He takes lives, but he also saves them– and he’s good at doing both! Then you have his prim-and-proper, politely quiet socialization style, but he’s always wearing loud, obnoxious suits.
And now, my dear reader, it’s time I arrived at the point.
I believe that, since the show is so dark thematically, we mirror what happens in the ‘Hannibal’ universe and add the lightness of humor.
By making jokes about the series, we are applying the chiaroscuric (is that even a world?) law of the show to ourselves, thus becoming an extension of the universe. Just like a Renaissance painting, we need to balance our contrast, so we make jokes about this dark/horrific/depressing series so that we can better digest the story.
I believe the ‘Hannibal’ fandom is what it is– passionate, rich, and surprisingly large– because of our dark/light contrast.