‘Hannibal’ Creator Defends ‘Red Dragon’ Violence, ‘Game of Thrones’ Rape
NBC’s Hannibal has committed such outlandish crimes as stuffing human bodies into trees, horse innards, even actual stuffing, but creator Bryan Fuller draws the line at depicting sexual violence. A recent interview sees the showrunner adamant about working around depictions of rape, but still defending their necessity in shows like HBO’s Game of Thrones.
For as elaborate, surreal and brutal as Hannibal depicts its murders, Fuller tells Entertainment Weekly that its upcoming Red Dragon arc will de-emphasize aspects of Francis Dolarhyde’s crimes that focus on women and rape, concentrating more specifically against family horror. Citing the ubuquity of rape stories on television that rarely explore the immense emotional aftermath, Fuller described his mandate to avoid depicting sexual crimes:
It was challenging approaching the Red Dragon story because the crimes that Francis Dolarhyde commits [in the novel] include the horrible raping of corpses, and near-corpses. In crafting the story arc of the Red Dragon, it became a challenge on how to keep true to the novel but deemphasize the exploitive qualities of woman being raped. That was one of the big challenges in terms of how do we keep our promise [to not tell rape stories] to our audience—which is largely female—and also service the novel.
It became a tricky matter of deemphasizing women being targeted, and making more pronounced the crimes against the victim’s family as a whole. We didn’t wanna glorify it—well, not “glorify,” because I don’t think any of the crime procedural shows are actually “glorifying” rape. But it is certainly explored so frequently that it rarely feels genuine.
Fuller also spoke to questions of Game of Thrones’ frequent trouble depicting rape, specifically that the recent Sansa Stark scene had served an understandable (if ugly) purpose of building up a larger story for the character:
I thought it was handled tastefully, all things considered. You could have done that scene on broadcast. With Thrones, you’re telling a story based on a time where those sort of violations were common. And women did not have the stance in that world to effectively resist. And with Sansa Stark, and that particular attack, we know Ramsay Bolton as someone who is a horrible violator of all things human—what he did to Theon Greyjoy is part and parcel of his cruelty.
So it felt organic to the world—not only what happened to Sansa, but [the attempted rape of] Gilly. It feels like we’re in the Wild Wild West, and that’s part of how they’re choosing to explore the story. I see why they’ve made the choices they have in the stories they’ve told, so I can’t criticize them for using that tool.
There are a great deal more wise words from Fuller at the link above, while Hannibal Season 3 will premiere next Thursday on June 4. Game of Thrones, meanwhile, heads into the final three episodes of Season 5 with Sunday’s “Hardhome,” which could well flesh out Sansa’s difficult arc for the year. You can check out the latest trailers for either below, but does Fuller have a point about TV’s depiction of sexual violence?