On Saturday, The New York Times published an article by Alex Beggs titled ” A Taste for Cannibalism?” in its Style section. The article claimed that cannibalism is growing in popularity in mainstream culture.
Cannibalism has a time and a place. Some recent books, films and shows suggest that the time is now. Can you stomach it? https://t.co/JzU1QRPYxV
— The New York Times (@nytimes) July 23, 2022
The article began by referencing Chelsea G. Summers’ new novel, A Certain Hunger, in which a woman eats her deceased boyfriend’s liver. She noted, “Turns out, cannibalism has a time and a place.”
The NYT then cited Yellowjackets, a Showtime series featuring cannibalism. Ashley Lyle, the series’s co-creator, suggested that the current fascination with cannibalism is due to “the pandemic, climate change, school shootings, and years of political cacophony as possible factors.”
In fact, cannibalism is not new in pop culture. The award-winning 1991 movie Silence of the Lambs, based on the novel by Thomas Harris, featured the cannibalistic habits of Dr; Hannibal Lecter.
But given the current global situation, perhaps the most disturbing depiction of cannibalism was the dystopian movie Soylent Green released in 1973. Due to pollution, poverty, and overpopulation, voluntary euthanasia is encouraged and carried out at government-run facilities. A rogue cop discovers that the bodies are recycled into a popular food called Soylent Green. It is chilling to note that the film is supposedly set in the year 2022.
In a disturbing case of fact following fiction, the UN released its global hunger report last month, claiming that 828 million people suffered were affected by hunger in 2021, an increase of about 46 million since 2020 and 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic
The prophets foresaw cannibalism as a sign of the imminent Messiah. The spiritual implications were described by the Prophet Ezekiel, who prophesied that one of the horrors that will appear at the end of days will be men eating each other:
Assuredly, parents shall eat their children in your midst, and children shall eat their parents. I will execute judgments against you, and I will scatter all your survivors in every direction. Ezekiel 5:10
Rabbi Moshe Avraham Halperin of the Machon Mada’i Technology Al Pi Halacha (the Institute for Science and Technology According to Jewish Law) explained that cannibalism was expressly forbidden in the Bible.
“On a moral or humanitarian level, eating human flesh is one of the worst curses that a man can bring upon himself; to eat from Man who was created in the image of God,” Rabbi Halperin said. “This lowers man to the level of animals, removing his aspect that was created in the image of God.”
“Eating human flesh in any form, even eating your own flesh, is entirely forbidden by the Torah, Rabbi Halperin said. “It is, essentially, the same as eating the meat from any forbidden animal that does not have the required Biblical signs of cloven hooves and chewing its cud, or an animal that has not been properly slaughtered. On a technical Biblical level, they are all expressly forbidden to the same degree.”
The rabbi noted that unrestricted eating is actually a curse.
“Adam, who was personally created in the image of God, could only eat plants,” Rabbi Halperin noted. “After men became debased in the generation of Noah, they were permitted to eat meat. Adam and Eve were blessed by being prohibited from eating meat or from the tree of knowledge. The snake, the most hated animal in God’s eyes, was cursed with being able to even eat the dust.”