Hannibal Lecter: Cannibal and Anti-Misogynist?

Image result for clarice and lecterLast night was the first time that I watched The Silence of the Lambs (1991), directed by Jonathan Demme, and what immediately struck me was how much more likeable Lecter was as a character than any of the other male characters presented. Although it’s true that Lecter is already a more interesting character in terms of depth, he is also altogether more respectful than any of the other men in the film towards FBI trainee Clarice Starling.

It cannot be argued that the male gaze features majorly in the film, with Clarice receiving many unwelcome and often objectifying glances from multiple men, including her colleagues and superiors. When Dr Chilton first meets her, his first comment is on how he can’t recall having encountered another detective “so attractive”, following this by asking her if she’s planning on staying the night. And while he is by far the most forward of any of the objectifying males that Clarice encounters, he is definitely not the only one. Every room that Clarice enters in her work is filled with men, immediately causing her to stand out. This does not go unnoticed by the men either, whose eyes are almost constantly on her. Lecter himself knows this without even having to witness it, prompting him to ask “don’t you feel eyes moving over your body”, as he is aware of how a male-dominated workplace will react to a young woman.

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However, what Lecter does is to admire Clarice not for her body, but for her work. For while Dr Chilton states that Clarice was only hired by Crawford to “turn [Lecter] on”, therefore diminishing her education, expertise and hard work.  Lecter himself does not do this, choosing to interact with Clarice as his equal.

Although the cryptic clues that he offers her surrounding Buffalo Bill could be seen as him toying with her, I choose to see them more as him trusting in her intelligence. While he could give her the answers she wants immediately, thus ending the process, Lecter wants to see her prove herself and demonstrate that she is as perceptive as he believes her to be. He gives her the clues because he knows that she can solve them. Thus, he recognises her skill, viewing her as a detective rather than a sexual object. He even goes as far as to punish those that objectify her, such as fellow prisoner Miggs, who tells Clarice that he can “smell [her] c***”. Lecter gets Miggs to bite his tongue in perhaps the most brutal way possible – by convincing him to swallow it. It is never explicitly mentioned why he does this, though the implication is that it’s a result of his vulgar language towards Clarice. It could even be suggested that the reason Lecter is seen following Dr Chilton at the end of the film upon his escape is due to his objectification of Clarice, though it is more likely due to Chilton’s work at the facility that he was held in.

Lecter is a character known for his dislike of rude people – with them often becoming his victims – however, his treatment of Miggs is particularly interesting in that he vocalises what many of the other male characters are implied to be thinking. Lecter is the opposite of this, choosing to punish those that act in this way and view Clarice as a professional. And though he does manipulate her in other ways, such as getting her to reveal things about her past and purposely using up time to provide little information, it is clear that he has respect for her. Clarice herself says once she knows Lecter has escaped that “he won’t come after me”, as even she is aware of his regard for her. She doesn’t fear him just as he doesn’t disrespect her.

Hannibal Lecter is definitively not a good person, though an excellently crafted character. His respect for Clarice is not meant to portray him as a well-rounded individual, but to shed a light on the commonplace disrespectful behaviour of ‘good men’ towards women. It is interesting for an audience that a serial killer-cannibal has more respect for women than her work colleagues, as it draws an interesting comparison between the two. We end up having more appreciation for Lecter than we do for the people responsible for his capture.

The Silence of the Lambs is by no means your all-round feminist film, nor does it contain some immensely powerful lesson about women. What is does, however, on some level, is examine the male gaze in its most common form and touch on what it feels like to be a woman in a male-dominated field. Not what you’d expect from your typical crime-drama, but not an altogether unwelcome observation either.

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Apex – Manchester’s next metal band

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Sitting in their studio in Stockport Mill, Apex are getting ready to start their next rehearsal. All from in and around Manchester, with music taste that varies from deathcore to rap, they are all aspiring metal artists with a growing online presence.

In Spring 2013, their music teacher, Lee, brought together Isaak Heggs (bass guitar), Emily Greenwood (drums) and Michael Battye (lead guitar) by suggesting that they form a band. Once Isaak managed to get Emily and Michael to actually talk, the group got along well – the only problem being that they didn’t have a vocalist. But after multiple changes (including a vocalist who didn’t want to sing in front of other people), Isaak introduced Rohan McGillivray, who he knew from college. He was exactly what the band was looking for, and they progressed from there.

Nearly three years later, whilst Emily was on holiday, the other members decided to add another guitar player, Connor McGarry (rhythm guitar). She didn’t find out until she got back, but they all agree now that the band has only improved with Connor’s addition. Him joining the band has brought them a better live atmosphere and energy that they didn’t have before, and he is as much a part of the band as the rest of them. The only other thing that’s changed in that time, they say, is that they play better now and Isaak’s cut his hair.

Over time, the biggest challenge they’ve faced is overcoming their difference in music taste, as well as finding promotors to back and support them. They also struggled with the name and the genre of the band. Previously, they used names such as Scar Synposis and Undefined Uz, until Michael suggested Apex Predator and Isaak settled on Apex. The genre, however, is clearly still a fairly debatable subject. Although, they seem comfortably settled on post-hardcore, after Connor and Isaak told enough people that was the genre and it caught on.

Since then, they’ve played multiple gigs, with their most memorable being Academy Three, which they played in February 2015. They have also played in various other venues, such as Retro Bar, Zombie Shack and the Pub/Zoo. After their gigs, they go out together to celebrate, although Emily is often left to pack up (with the occasional help of friends Matty and Cassie).

When asked who was the most committed, there wasn’t much agreement among the group. Isaak suggested that it was he and Connor, although their friend Matty (not a member of the band, but a valuable rehearsal member) suggested it was Emily, to which the majority of the band responded “she just hits stuff”. And when asked who was most often late, Emily’s name was mentioned once again, although Michael pointed out that “you can’t be late if you’re never here”. However, arguably one of the things that makes Apex stand out on the metal scene is the presence of a female drummer. There still aren’t many women in metal, which is something different that Apex brings to the market. Their diverse music tastes and range in personality are also what sets them apart, as well as the combination of the instruments in terms of sound. Michael is the songwriter in the group, with input from the other members, while Isaak and Connor manage the band’s social media presence.

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They are influenced by bands such as Being as an Ocean, Architects (although there was some debate about that as well) and While She Sleeps. However, they are individually influenced by different bands and various artists. They have all been deeply invested in music for the last six years or so, although some have been interested for longer than others – with Michael convinced that his mother playing music to him in the womb spiked his interest. They all look up to other bands for inspiration, although Isaak admits that the only reason he even learned to play bass guitar is because he had to pick an instrument at school, though I think it’s safe to say it’s a decision that worked out for him.

When asked what their newest release was, there was some confusion and disagreement among the group, which continued when asked what they were currently working on. But, after some deliberation, it was agreed that their newest release is the remastered version of one of their older songs, Direwolf featuring Will Walkden. Currently, they’re working on a new album, which they are part way through recording.

In terms of the future, the end goal for the band is to have their music appreciated, and to fill venues with people who genuinely enjoy their music. Their intention isn’t to be hugely famous, but simply to be able to make some kind of living from their music. Playing music is massively important to all of them, allowing them to meet new people and discover new bands, and it is something that they want to continue for a long time.

Unfortunately, they don’t have any merchandise available, having recently sold out of t-shirts, but they are hoping to release more soon. But they can be found on Facebook and their music can be accessed through YouTube and Soundcloud. At the moment, they’re taking a break from gigging to work on their next album and a project to celebrate reaching 1,000 likes on Facebook. So there’s definitely more to come from this Manchester band.

Where you can find Apex:
Facebook – Youtube – Twitter Soundcloud