Friday, May 3, 2013

Hannibal, TV drama, and worrying about stress at UT Tyler

   So, this might totally be weird thing to tie in with a serious subject like making sure you’re aware of clinical services on campus … but is anybody else following NBC’s Hannibal?! Is it just me? I've fallen head over heels for this series and it’s amazing cinematography/art direction, but I also think it brings up a serious subject that I’d like to make sure students are aware of.

What *IS* this?! A Raven-deer? I want ten of them! 

   As in my experience is often the case, TV shows love drama. With the rise of the recent phenomenon set up by the show Dexter, shows about serial killers are all the rage right now – Dexter, The Following , Hannibal, etc… It’s a trend, see? Anyway, what I am loving about this show Hannibal is that is treats its main character, Will Graham, like an actual human being who happens to have a bizarre mental affinity. He is not portrayed as the perfect, solves-every-case-the-first-time character – he is a guy with genuine human/social issues.

   NBC's show ( based off the books by Thomas Harris ) focuses on how Will came to have Dr. Lecter as his psychiatrist, as well as how Will came to rely on the 'good' Doctor for helping him solve his cases ... some of which are actually crimes committed by Hannibal himself. 

   If anybody isn't a Harris-fan, the TV series Hannibal focuses on the man who caught the infamous cannibal serial-killer, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, famously played by Anthony Hopkins in the film Silence of theLambs. At the point of the ‘Harris-chronology’ set by the books, Silence of the Lambs is the second book in the series.

Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter

BOOK 1Red Dragon: Will Graham, the man who caught Lecter, needs his help on a dangerous case.

BOOK 2Silence of the Lambs: using the method set up by Grahmn, Clarice Starling  goes to Lecter for help with a case that baffles the FBI

BOOK 3Hannibal – Clairce gets involved with an ex-victim of Lecter who wants the Dr. dead.

BOOK 4Hannibal Rising – How Hannibal became the person he is between books 1-3.

   Harris plays semi-fast and loose with psychology in his novels, so I was thinking the TV series Hannibal would do the same. I was pleasantly surprised. Grahmn’s character is treated as frail, yet courageous; strong, yet terrified. He is an all-too human person forced to put up with crimes he himself has issues with.

   If the TV series sits anywhere on the Harris-chronology, it is a kind of BOOK #0 as its events occur before Red Dragon.

Hugh Dancy as Will Graham
  My interest however in this series, and the psychology behind it, got me thinking on a lot of issues. Obviously trying to say every college student is like Will is wrong, but the idea that college students routinely face pressures and stresses that push them? That is very accurate. Will’s character understands his flaws, but feels he himself can’t help himself. Will’s character is slowly trying to learn new ways to handle the stress in his life … even if Lecter, a killer, is his shrink.

    Even in a drama series like Hannibal, it’s rare to see people with mental conflicts shown accurately, or at least with enough attention to make sure we like them for them, not just for ‘their crazy gift.’ In my opinion, Sheldon Cooper from Big Bang Theory is a negative stereotype of somebody with social issues who is played for laughs.

   People are the same way. We need to treat everyone we meet with respect and get to them for who they are, not just for their hobbies, fads, or clothes.

   Dealing with stress is hard, perhaps harder than you know. I in no way think college is as hard as having a job profiling criminals, but man … doesn't it feel that way, sometimes? Our college offers a variety of helpful solutions to helping you deal with stress, services like our Student Clinic and Peer Educators.

   Everybody needs help – Life isn't as dramatic as TV, even if we feel like it is – Never be afraid to ask for help, or just to know somebody will listen.

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