Chapter

All hail to the serial killer: America's last frontier hero in the age of Reaganite eschatology and beyond

Linnie Blake

in The Wounds of Nations

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print July 2008 | ISBN: 9780719075933
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700914 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7228/manchester/9780719075933.003.0020
All hail to the serial killer: America's last frontier hero in the age of Reaganite eschatology and beyond

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This chapter draws heavily on the misadventures of the cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter, from Ridley Scott's film Hannibal. Reflecting the hunger of American audiences for the further misadventures of Hannibal Lecter, took this film to a record-breaking $58,000,000 on its opening weekend in the United States. Such massive public interest in Lecter had of course begun with his appearance in Thomas Harris's best-selling novels Red Dragon (1981), The Silence of the Lambs (1988) and Hannibal (1999). This chapter further illustrates that the iconic Lecter's true significance lay in the ways he allowed contemporary audiences to engage psychologically and socio-culturally with the historic traumas of the Reagan years while exposing the ideological mediation of that trauma by all aspects of the culture industry. The violent murderer has been a recurrent figure in the mass cultural imagination of the United States since the earliest days of the republic. He has come to the forefront of the popular imagination at times of political, social or economic dislocation; and his outrageous deeds and fantasies have allowed for a timely re-examination of one of the core paradoxes of American social life.

Keywords: cannibalistic serial killer; Hannibal Lecter; contemporary audience; American social life; ideological mediation

Chapter.  7446 words. 

Subjects: Film

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