We like to deny it, but underneath our veneer of civilized snobbery I think we all long to be cannibals. What a shocking idea! But not when you examine the evidence.
How many movies in our recent memory have dealt with, or at least mentioned, the idea of cannibalism? Let’s see: Silence of the Lambs, Red Dragon, Hannibal, Hannibal Rising, The Hills have Eyes, Wrong Turn, Fried Green Tomatoes (also in the book on which this movie was based), Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Serenity, Dahmer (a portrait of the serial killer); I am Legend; any film that features zombies; and also any film that features vampires or werewolves (these creatures were once human, after all). I will admit that most of these examples are horror or shock flicks, however, there is a preoccupation with this very disturbing and mysterious aspect of human history.
The above examples, on the whole, are very condemning of cannibalism as a practice. They portray those that eat other human beings as savage, insane fringe members of society. However, if we look closely, we find that there are many mainstream (albeit subtle) references to cannibalism that are thought of as completely innocent.
Have you ever called someone “honey,” sweetie-pie,” “lamb-chop,” or “sugar”? Where did these terms of endearment come from? Of course, most people do not mean to imply anything untoward by using these terms, but they do raise some questions. I have heard, more than once, someone say to a cute little kid, “I could just eat you with a spoon!” Now what is that supposed to mean? It means the kid is so adorable that they invoke a strong emotional response—almost like when you are enjoying chocolate pudding or a Snicker’s bar.
How about references in music: “Pour some sugar on me” (Def Leppard); “Sugar Sugar” (The Archies); “Candy Girl” (Jackson 5); Candyman (Christina Aguilera). I could go on but many songs that refer to a person as food are a bit more explicit.
Am I suggesting then that all of us are cannibals and given the least provocation will go hog wild on the next unlucky person to be caught alone with us? Not at all! But deep in our unconscious, caveman souls we’ve thought about it.