Lecter asked me round for dinner,
And I nearly went, just on a whim,
But I’ve no common ground with him,
Cause I don’t eat my friends,
I asked him how he got his scar,
He said “it’s rarer than a window on an abattoir”
Some lab, somewhere, there is a jar,
I’d love to apprehend,
If I sang a song for you,
Would you sit and eat with me,
Suspend your disbelief,
Defy your canine teeth,
Chilton didn’t have a lot of luck,
I guess the nail that’s sticking up,
Gets hammered down alright,
I’m losing track of all the times,
I’ve been asked to justify,
A choice I made, why I try,
To live my life by standards I,
Am hopeful qualify as fair and right.
Screaming, the voice of a child,
Petrified to see inside,
Clarice and me,
We took a look, now we’re trying to set them free.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991). Directed by Jonathan Demme. USA: Orion.
Jodie Foster (Clarice Starling), Best Actress in a Leading Role Oscar, 1992.
“Animals are my friends ... and I don't eat my friends.”
-George Bernard Shaw“
I do wish we could chat longer, but... I'm having an old friend for dinner.”
-Dr. Hannibal Lecter
“The nail that sticks up, gets hammered down”
-Japanese Proverb | Born Against | Propagandhi
This is our first song about eating flesh, or more specifically, not eating flesh. Arguably, the focal point of Clarice Starling’s personal journey in The Silence of the Lambs is the scene where Hannibal Lecter forces her to recount and relive the moment where, as a recently orphaned child, she unsuccessfully attempted to rescue a lamb, after sneaking into the slaughterhouse to investigate where the screams she could hear were coming from. What she longs for now is for an end to the screaming.
There are so many interesting things about The Silence of the Lambs from an animal rights/Critical Animal Studies perspective. The fact that the anti-hero eats human flesh is a novel way of illuminating and deconstructing the notion of ‘species’, and of the ‘insuperable’ line between different living beings that we, as human animals, have constructed. This is also highlighted in Buffalo Bill’s symbolic journey from caterpillar to moth (or from ‘male’ to ‘female’). It should be noted that LGBT groups heavily criticized the film upon its release for its transphobia and homophobia. The film actually acknowledges this criticism, when Clarice states: “there is no correlation in the literature between transsexualism and violence. Transsexuals are very passive”. Nevertheless, Buffalo Bill symbolically reaffirmed the myth that ‘trans’ was synonymous with ‘weird’ and ‘dangerous’. It might not be a coincidence that Jonathan Demme then went on to direct Philadelphia; perhaps an act of contrition towards the LGBT community.
From a personal perspective this song laments the near constant hostility, indignity and mockery those who choose a veg*n lifestyle face. Beyond the stupid cyclical arguments and personal attacks is a world of cold ambivalence. But just because Clarice’s lamb died, doesn’t mean she wasn’t right to try and save it. Long may her efforts, and the efforts of those who feel the same way, continue.