With popular shows like Yellowjackets and Monster: The Jeffery Dahmer Story, as well as movies like Fresh and Bones and All, it seems like audiences are currently obsessed with cannibalism. One of the great taboos, cannibalism has a long history in storytelling, with origins dating all the way back to Ancient Greece. Even William Shakespeare deals with cannibalism in Titus Andronicus when the titular Roman general bakes Tamora's sons into a pie and has her eat them. Cannibalism, as a theme, also shares a long history with film and television, with depictions in the film Doctor X that predate the Hays Code by several years.
However, with the current proliferation of cannibal media, it seems like modern audiences are especially enraptured by this particular taboo. Audiences not only enjoy cannibalism for its effective shock value but also for the fact that it is extremely thematically versatile. From a critique on commercialism in the original Dawn of the Dead to a sense of \"all-consuming\" power and control in Hannibal, cannibalism can represent a wide variety of themes.
What cannibalism represents depends on the movie or TV show it's depicted in. As previously mentioned, George A. Romero used the metaphor of cannibalistic zombies within a shopping mall setting to create a satire on consumerism with Dawn of the Dead. In the later example of Yellowjackets, cannibalism serves as a metaphor for how the cannibalistic characters have rejected societal norms and the concept of taboo. The characters, by eating \"pit girl,\" sacrifice their humanity for their own survival. Cannibalism in Yellowjackets is a commentary on how one's humanity is easily stripped in the face of survival.
By contrast, in Fresh, Steve's rich clients have become so powerful and wealthy that the only way they can experience novelty, in a world where they can literally do anything, is by breaking taboo - much like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho. In this particular case, they choose cannibalism. Fresh also explores cannibalism as an allegory for the objectification and consumption of women by men and of lower classes by the higher. Noa is literally objectified and commodified by Steve when he cuts off her body parts and sells them to the highest bidder.
Audiences have always been fascinated with breaking societal taboos in movies: The Exorcist became the highest-grossing R-rated film ever when it was released in 1973, despite containing incredibly controversial scenes, such as the possessed Reagan masturbating with a crucifix. Recently, Game of Thrones broke ground with depictions of violence and sex, especially incest. Its prequel House of the Dragon has only further explored the taboo of incest with its focus on the Targaryen family tree. Like incest, cannibalism is another taboo that audiences are interested in seeing broken in media.
When greenlighting a project, executives will look to capitalize on a proven-popular premise or property. This means that they will look for something that looks similar, covers similar themes, or crosses similar boundaries. An example of this would be the increased popularity of science fiction media across film and television after the success of Star Wars in 1977. The current proliferation of cannibalism is simply part of the natural progression of how media companies capitalize on the popularity of breaking taboo. 1e1e36bf2d