Is there an increased incidence of films and Tv shows depicting canibalism and/or the death of children since the emergence of the video streaming industry?

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Is there an increased incidence of films and Tv shows depicting canibalism and/or the death of children since the emergence of the video streaming industry?

Hello, and thank you for your question about the incidence of cannibalism and/or the death of children since the emergence of the video streaming industry. The short version is that since Netflix's launch of video streaming in 2007, there have been 18 films and television shows that feature cannibalism as a theme. Below you will find a deep dive of our findings.


In order to answer your question, my colleague and I searched industry reports, trusted media sites, user forums, and review sites to first gain knowledge of the history of streaming video. Next, we searched for "incidence in cannibalism" to understand the history of cannibalism in film and television. And finally, we searched for articles which gave insider insight into the recent prevalence of cannibalism in film and television.

We could not conduct a specific search for depictions "death of children" or "dead children" in film and television because the topic is simply too broad. Because you are specifically interested in film and television, narrowing your search to a specific genre, such as crime dramas, thrillers, or supernatural films, might produce more workable results.


The video streaming industry was brought to life in May 2005 with the launch of YouTube. Our world has never been the same. Netflix and AppleTV followed in 2007, and Hulu in 2008. Video streaming saw significant growth between 2009 and 2011 as video enabled smartphones and tablets began to flood the market. Between 2012 and 2014, video services saw a major takeover as they matured and TV subscriptions began to decline.

A history of streaming video isn't complete without a brief history of it's most popular service: Netflix. Netflix debuted its “Watch Now” in 2007 with around 1,000 titles—about 1% of Netflix’s 70,000-video physical library—when it began rolling out on January 16, 2007. Videos ranged from Hollywood classics like Casablanca, to cult movies, to foreign films, to mini-series—including the original 1990 BBC series of House of Cards. TV shows began to take up more of Netflix's streaming library as its streaming service grew. "It began producing its own originals in 2013, starting with its own version of House of Cards, and releasing whole seasons in one go, changing the distribution model for on-demand TV and birthing the concept of binge-watching." TV shows now make up about 27% of Netflix's offerings, and "have eclipsed movies in terms of overall viewing on the platform."


A quick search for "cannibalism in movies" on IMDB (Internet Movie Database) will return a list of 45 titles dating back to 1972 for the US. Fourteen films are listed between 1972 and 1989 alone, beginning with a film called Raw Meat. The list features cult favorites like The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and box office hits like Silence of the Lambs (1991).

In the 1990s, only 8 cannibal movies were released, including Fried Green Tomatoes (1991) and Alive (1993). Since 2001, however, there have been 23 cannibal movies released, 16 of those since 2007 and the launch of Netflix's streaming video. Add in the two most recent cannibal films, Bad Batch and Raw, that's 18 films in almost as many years.

Cannibal films have historically been so popular world-wide that the theme is even featured in the book The Encyclopedia of Film Themes by Richard B. Armstrong and Mary Willems Armstrong.


The cannibalism theme has not been restricted to film. Many television shows in recent years have featured the theme in some form or another. Below is a list of those shows:

--South Park
--The Walking Dead
--Game of Thrones
--Grey's Anatomy
--Nip Tuck
--The 100
--American Horror Story

The prevalence of humans eating humans on the big and small screens begs the question: why the fascination with cannibalism? Industry insiders and critics have some pretty interesting theories. Jade Budowski, a blogger on Decider, argues that the American public have become desensitized to violence, that there is a cyclical Hollywood hearkening back to the Italian horror of 70s and 80s, but most of all the fact that these stories are using cannibalism as a metaphor for more complicated topics like the sexual awakening in Raw and vanity in the Neon Demon.

Julia Ducornau, director of the newest cannibal flick Raw, and winner of the Parallel Sections Prize from the International Federation of Film Critics (for Raw), said in an interview with Vulture, "I do think it says something about our society that the monsters we see [in films] right now are actually human, and not vampires and not supernatural creatures." She goes on to argue that the humanization of such gruesome monsters stems from a desire to more fully understand humanity, and all its most grotesque elements.

Charles Bramesco of The Verge writes that we are living in the "golden age of on-screen cannibalism." He argues that writers and directors are "reframing cannibalism as an affliction of the mind rather than the body [and] have turned it into a complex, often conflicted new archetype." Bramesco posits that most of the more recent films and shows depict "their subjects not as monsters, but as human beings wrestling with the all-consuming desire to do something revolting."


To wrap up, industry insiders point to a desire to explore the many facets of humanity as a reason for depictions of cannibalism in films and television. Thanks for using Wonder! Please let us know if we can help with anything else.