Freire in Midsommar (2019): performative critical consciousness as social ritual
This paper analyzes the horror film Midsommar through the lens of Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed, centered on the concept of critical consciousness and its modern renditions as digital or even performative activism. Midsommar extends upon familiar narratives like The Lottery to present a blurring of the binary between those who only appear critically-conscious and their adversaries. The stark contrast between a murderous religious cult, the Hårga, and a group of graduate students in anthropology fades throughout the film as the director meticulously presents ritual among the former group in relation to gaslighting among the latter. The emphasis on gore which almost borders on exploitative serves to emphasize not just the perils of compromised critical-consciousness, but also how individuals can choose to exploit social justice towards personal gain. Midsommar breaks through the digital divide to illustrate that even in the film's "screenless society", those who only claim to be critically-conscious likewise observe with stillness through an invisible barrier between the self and the victimized other. The beautifully lethal ceremonies observed by the film's antagonists ultimately reminds us of our own dissemination and simultaneous dilution of critical consciousness towards performative activism as our parallel dogma.
Received: 13 April 2023 Accepted: 21 August 2023 Published: 06 September 2023
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