Your Ladybro Katie here with write ups of featured panels from Crypticon 2016!
Heather was featured on lots of panels- Northwest Superstars of Podcasting (what what!) Pacific Northwest Horror Enthusiasts and Friendship Society (Join their Facebook group!), Cannibals and Classism in Modern American Entertainment, The Unflinching Eye: An Objective Look at Morbid Curiosity, and Horror's Gatekeepers.
The great nitty-gritty happened with the last few panels, though, so that's what I'll focus on. First Up:
Cannibals and Classism in Modern American Entertainment
From the Crypticon website:
The Silence of the Lambs, Ravenous, We Are What We Are, Green Inferno, The Walking Dead, Hannibal—what do they say about us? Do cannibals represent a particular fear, or many? Is a cannibal sometimes just a cannibal? Amie Simon, Heather Marie Bartels, Ian Bracken (M), M. Nessk, Matthew S. Ellison, Esquire
The moderator Ian Bracken opened this discussion up first pointing out that this was all Heather's idea- she was the one who created the panel- Heather, this is all your fault!
the moderator then pointed out to us some types of films under the "cannibal" genre:
- Survival Cannibal Films
- Spiritual / Wendingo
- Self- Inflicted (eating oneself)
- Serial Killers
- Jungle / Native Exploitation
Silence of the Lambs and Hannibal was brought up, which raised some interesting questions regarding classism. Why do we tend to like Hannibal, even though he is the villain? Why do we enjoy Hannibal and are repulsed by other cannibals? The main difference between Hannibal and people-eaters we find in other films such as Bone Tomahawk is that Hannibal is fancy as fuck. He's a gentleman. He likes classical music. Sure, he's creepy, but with all other trappings of a simply eccentric rich old man, we tend to like him. He becomes the anti-hero, we love watching fancy people do awful things.
There is somehow an inherent trust of the upper class, and though we know we shouldn't be rooting for Hannibal's escape, we are comfortable with the idea of his brand of vigilantism and want him to be released.
Comparatively, the "savages" in Green Inferno and Bone Tomahawk are placed as the ultimate "other" in the viewer's mind. They are cut off from society, unrefined, succumb to base primal instincts. Nothing could separate how these cave people engage in cannibalism and Hannibal's fava beans and a nice chianti more. So, we, in the middle, seek Hannibal's approval and actively disassociate ourselves from the savages.
Among the issues of considering socioeconomic class in cannibal films is the simple fact that, "We don't like to be reminded that we're all meat." (Heather Bartels)
The less human we feel as we are viewing cannibalism on the screen reflects our perspective of the attackers. With Hannibal and the higher class, the audience wants to be included in his club, whereas we are repulsed by the savagery and baseness of other cannibals.
It is important to question why these issues of classism appear in American cinema. It seems to suggest that we still have very firm boundaries of acceptability, inclusion, and what separates the human from the animal. What other films have you found classism to be a latent issue? What do you think of the difference between Hannibal films and other cannibal cinema?