I was thrilled when I got the chance to read M. Jess Peacock’s Such a Dark Thing: Theology of the Vampire Narrative in Popular Culture and review this academic treatise for our blog. Just seeing the title itself filled me with nerdy joy and anticipation. This is not the first time I’ve written about vampires and religion for this blog, and I hope it won’t be my last. Such intersections of fantastical genre pop culture media and religious studies/theology perfectly fits in with some of my own dearest interests, as well as the mission of the LGG&F blog, of course. The book does exactly what it says it will, looking at the symbolic value of the vampire in pop culture through a variety of theological lenses, some of which I’d thought of before, but many of which had never crossed my mind. Without further ado, let’s sink our teeth into this review (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist #punsarealwaysintended).
There are some shows were you don’t expect to ever hear anything about religion, like Parks & Rec. Then there are shows where religious themes are going to come up all the time, like Joan of Arcadia. But sometimes, in shows you don’t expect, religious themes crop up quietly. One of these is Hannibal. Serial killers, culinary masterpieces, occasional harpsichord solos—it doesn’t seem like there’s much room to fit religion into the nightmarish drama that is Hannibal. Nevertheless, at times, hints of religious and spiritual matters do indeed appear in the show, coming from the place you’d least expect them: the mouth of Hannibal Lecter himself. Hannibal is a man of infinite complexity, and through his dialogues with Will Graham, as well as his own actions, we see glimpses of said deep inner complexity in regards to his beliefs about God and morality.