• 'First Principles': Hannibal, Affective Economy, and Oppositionality in Fan Studies

    Lori Morimoto (see profile)
    Fans (Persons), Television
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
    Conf. Title:
    Fan Studies Network Conference 2018
    Conf. Org.:
    Fan Studies Network
    Conf. Loc.:
    Huddersfield, United Kingdom
    Conf. Date:
    June 24-25, 2017
    Hannibal, Television Studies, Affective Economy, Fan-Producer Relations, Fan studies
    Permanent URL:
    In the first episode of Hannibal (2013-15), FBI profiler Will Graham is called to examine a body impaled on antlers in the middle of a field – presumably the work of the so-called Minnesota Shrike. Graham quickly determines that, while this crime superficially resembles that of other Shrike victims, its difference is such that this ‘field kabuki’ is clearly the work of a copycat killer with a much different modus operandi; one that equips Graham to understand the Shrike’s motives and methods by contrast. In this paper, I argue that Hannibal itself might be understood as an object that similarly illuminates by contrast certain assumptions in the field of media fan studies, by confounding fan studies’ ongoing emphasis on oppositionality – canon vs. fanfiction, producers vs. fans, gift vs. money economies – as constitutive of, in particular, transformative fandoms. No simple adaptation, Hannibal is an intensely transformative text that repurposes both antecedent novels and their film adaptations in imagining a non-canonical relationship between Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Claims of creating fanfiction are a common tactic amongst “fanboy auteurs” – of which Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller is one – aimed at demonstrating “an understanding of [fans’] textual desires and practices” (Scott 2013, 44). In contrast, Hannibal is not only formally fanfictional, but its creators claim fan community belonging through their awareness of, and demonstrated respect for, the show’s fans and their fanworks. Moreover, they do this in such a way that these claims of being fellow ‘fannibals’ are widely accepted within Hannibal’s social media-centered fan communities. While not losing sight of the very real inequalities of social, industrial, and economic capital between creators and fans, I argue that Hannibal problematizes fan studies’ generalized framework of fan/industry oppositionality in ways that demand a more case-centered approach to media and their fans.
    Powerpoint slides available at https://www.dropbox.com/s/6cn454juu1iapcv/FSN2017PPT.pptx?dl=0
    Last Updated:
    6 years ago


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