Dr. Hannibal the cannibal Lecter’s warped view of human respect is depicted with an inquisitive demeanor in his character. If one refers to the Thomas Harris novels, or the screen adaptations of Michael Mann’s Manhunter (1985), Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (1991) or Ridley Scott’s Hannibal (2001), Dr. Lecter is depicted as a charming, playful man in Demme’s version–eerily likeable despite the known fact that he consumes the flesh and brains of humans. The way he interrogates Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster, Julianne Moore) is akin to a snake preying on warm-blooded prey. All snakes are carnivores that swallow their hunted whole, and Dr. Lecter’s white rabbit is ingested, tenfold. Nonetheless, it’s Clarice’s wounded bird that Dr. Lecter has his forceful gaze upon; not for consumption, but merely an obsession of fatherly love; an offer for a rite of passage.
Both sides of the pendulum carry a multitude of perspectives and rebuttals when it comes to the consumption of meat. Is it an act of horrid, tumultuous slaughter, to kill an animal for sustenance? If not, then is it tasteless, when hunting is performed merely for sport? The religious zealots argue the animal was placed on Earth for human survival. The cow, the chicken and pig are symbols of sacrifice; their slaughter is elevated to a degree of superior significance akin to being placed on a pedestal above the ordinary human. How could an animals sacrifice not be glorified, when a human kills the beast, then consumes it? The very act of consumption represents a show of respect for the animal; its nutrients are vital enough, that it must be slaughtered then butchered in preparation for consumption. Thus, making the human fit for survival; equipped with energy to tackle the trials and tribulations of any given day.
The zealots argue that so long as the beast is slaughtered properly–unbeknown to a forthcoming slaying– its consumption is permitted. If the slayed beast is not halal, or kosher, then it’s prohibited for nourishment. The vegan’s rebuttal might suggest the “proper” slaughtering is irrelevant to the chicken’s living conditions, or the cow’s lack of a quality diet. The zealot’s logic behind the permitted slaughter pertains to the absence of a fear induced state in the animal, preventing stress hormones and steroids presenting themselves in the meat, eliminating its otherwise inevitable transfer into the human intestine, had the animal been tortured. The vegan rebuttals the animal’s life is sacred altogether and should be left free to roam. The poor living conditions of any given animal contradict the logic behind halal and kosher meat. The carnivore’s pursuit of vital nutrients can be obtained otherwise, through plant-based foods, available in abundance.
Dr. Lecter from the Hannibal saga was a venerated Psychiatrist before he devoured the brains and flesh of humans. His institutionalization deemed him unfit for society based upon his heinous acts of cannibalism. Could his consumption of human meat be a show of respect, equated to that of a pig that screamed for sixty-seconds before its lifeless body lied before a butcher, preparing its protein and fat for consumption? The pig was sacrificed for the human–an honorable position. Perhaps, Dr. Lecter honors the human in the same manner. The vegan would argue the pig’s life was stripped of him and his family. The pig’s soul denied the existence it was granted prior to a “proper” slaying. The carnivore sees the cow’s life as useless if unutilized for its resources. What is a cow’s life, if not to be milked for vitamins, and slaughtered for minerals? Perhaps, its life would succumb to that of a sloth; an immobile existence with occasional groaning. The warmhearted vegan wishes for such a life to be spared; for a life is a life.
Dr. Lecter’s blasphemous act of cannibalism may show respect for a human, but can a case be made for the carnivore who is unwilling to muster the courage to slaughter a chicken? Should such a carnivore be stripped of their right to eat chicken? Thousands of years of agriculture would deny such an idea. It does invoke upon the carnivore to question their ideals with utmost scrutiny, nevertheless. It would be irrational and faulty reasoning for any given carnivore to personally execute the slaughtering of an animal and deliver it to a butcher for preparation. The zealot, nonetheless, stands by scripture. Her carnivorous acts are backed with evidence to support her claim that animals are to be sacrificed for humans on Earth. Suffice it to say, moderation might be the solution. A moderate intake of vital proteins enable the human with vigor to win the game of life. An uneducated approach to veganism may lead to the detriment of one’s vitality, especially if they’re not eating for their blood type.
Dr. Lecter is a psychological menace who preys on Clarice Starling’s haunted past like a carnivorous snake. But, he holds back; he senses admiration for her in playful ways, similar to a Professor lecturing a student. Jonathan Demme’s The Silence of the Lambs (written by Ted Tally) serves as a rite of passage with a theme that displays an FBI Agent’s evolvement to a superior version of herself that she would otherwise neglect to discover, had it not been for Dr. Lecter’s persistent methods. Clarice conquers the ghosts of her haunted past by going through a grueling experience and overcoming obstacles. Dr. Lecter is her first test, and if she passes it, he’ll lead her to her second test—capturing the infamous Buffalo Bill. Dr. Lecter is unlike Freddie Krueger, Michael Myers or Jason Voorhies; he’s a villain that represents a grave human condition. A character whose overall objective is to help the greater good in exchange for customized pleasantries within his confined existence. The juxtaposition in the opening and closing images of The Silence of the Lambs serve as a fitting frame of opposites; the film begins with Clarice stepping toward the camera in a forceful manner, while ending with Dr. Lecter walking away from the camera with an easy stride– a contrasting bookend to a masterpiece of cinema that closely scrutinizes the motives of a human being, regardless of the type of meat they prefer to eat with their bottle of “Chianti”.
written by ardalan pourvali