Summer is the time for macabre obsessions to blossom – to get really, really weird, until you’re spending your break at work reading lists of the Fred and Rose West victims as if it’s a natural thing to do with your downtime. The long light scoots nightmares out. The winter means walking home alone in the dark, often, which is bad enough without worrying you are going to spy Ted Bundy across the road, bobbing around on fake crutches and asking for help with his suitcase. In summer, this feels less likely.
I am very stressed right now. My shoulders feel like the bones are crunching together. When I’m scanning stuff on the till, I’m thinking about all the ways my life could go wrong, with ‘nuclear war’ a big solid full stop at the end of each detailed scenario. So I’ve got into Hannibal again, haven’t I? I’ve made (and will make, so many) mistakes, but I’ve never killed and eaten someone. That’s the sort of thing that’s hard to come back from. It’s why some people watch Jeremy Kyle – to feel better about themselves. It’s that urge, I think. I’ve never felt the urge to wear someone’s skin or annihilate families or all those things people do in this wildly silly frachise. It’s good.
SO. Anyway! Although ‘Hannibal’ the TV show has some very high points, like Mads Mikkelsen cupping Hugh Dancy’s face carefully, with affection, sometimes it is nice to not worry about seeing a human corpse turned into a bees’ nest on your screen. And sometimes it is nice to see Jodie Foster solving a mystery and talking in a Southern accent. Today, let us solve our own mystery: Do I want to be, or kiss, Clarice Starling? Let us examine some key moments.
Throughout the film, men belittle, distrust, or are openly hostile towards Clarice. I obviously don’t envy that (because over twenty years on, male-dominated fields are still a nightmare for women who join), but I adore how realistic Foster plays Clarice’s reactions to the sexism she encounters. Sometimes, especially at the start, she grins and bears it; sometimes, she speaks up nervously; and sometimes, she affirms her right to be in the room. By the end, she’s assertive and calm in a way I would love to be. And if I was her romantic interest, hearing about all of this would just make me furious and I would send Jack Crawford a sweary message on LinkedIn, and make Clarice speak to her union rep.
I will be real with you: I want to be Clarice in this scene. She is running and talking at the same time. I can’t do this. I would die.
She is looking at articles about Hannibal Lecter here. This is an ideal activity if we were having a library date. I would not LOVE the concept of my FBI girlfriend visiting a serial killer, but I’d like that she was going into it prepared.
This is a complex one. I would very much like a sullen murderer to show me a kindness by passing me a towel when I visit him with wet hair. This is a very specific scenario, but one I feel would be interesting to experience. On the other hand, Clarice is wearing an iconic outfit and looks absolutely adorable. I would offer her a hair dryer and a warm drink.
Allow this #LOOK into your heart. The chinos! The brown belt! The sensible satchel! In this image, Clarice and Ardelia invent being an FBI student, and the colour powder-blue, and frowning at TV screens when a kidnap victim’s mother is making an appeal. In no way do I want to be Clarice here, because this scene seems to take place at like 9am and I’m not going to solve a case at that time of day. Just kiss my FBI girlfriend.
This is someone I wish I was. Someone who KNOWS there might be moths in a place – and a murderer, and a half-sewn skin suit – but goes anyway. If there is even one small moth in a room I cannot take my eyes off it, so as soon as we’d found that chrysalis in the victim’s throat, I’d have been thinking of excuses to absent myself from actually confronting the killer.
Could not be prouder of Agent Starling, my FBI girlfriend, receiving her proper license after taking down a serial killer. After this we would go for brunch, and I would show her the portrait of us that I commissioned off Hannibal Lecter as a graduation present, and she’d call the waitress ‘ma’am’ and I would probably have an alcoholic drink with my pancakes because I guess from now on Clarice would be in constant near-death scenarios during her working day. I would need to be on pretty heavy sedatives for long periods of our life together, but whatever what I’m saying is I want to kiss her in this picture. That’s what I’m getting at.