Midsommar: Race and Runes

I just watched Midsommar, so spoilers!!!!!!!

 

Ok, so my thoughts on Midsommar are that, likely on purpose, Ari Aster has created a commentary on white supremacy. The question I can’t figure out is, what he means to say about it.

The first scene that got my brain headed in this direction is the shot of Christian’s friends in someone’s living room with their computers. I don’t think people have posted the scene, unfortunately, but I noticed the book about Nazis and runes stacked fairly noticeably, shown for a split second.

Then there’s the more obvious: everyone in the village is starkly, pasty white (including their clothing). Christian’s question of incest is answered by an elder saying they bring in outsiders, but despite this the village remains entirely white. This reveals the white supremacy at work in the village, even though people don’t outright treat Josh, Simon or Connie in racist ways.

The prominence of the rune Othala is also telling, given its prominence as a white nationalist symbol. Obviously, runes are everywhere in Midsommer, but the main dining table being shaped as such, as well as the fuel for the fire at the end, seems to point at it being the most important of all the runes for Aster’s purposes.

I also noticed that Connie, Simon and Josh are never given a choice to live. Though perhaps Josh may have been given one if he hadn’t looked at the book, the fact remains that by the time Dani was May Queen, only white people were alive in the village. Of course, Mark didn’t get much of a chance either, but he was an asshole disrespecting the ancestral tree, so that was not a big surprise. It is telling, though, that the offense that Mark committed is perhaps comparable to existing while Brown or Black. At least, I’m reading it that way. The punishment for white transgression is always more lax than for lesser transgressions committed by racialized people.

The ways that Connie and Simon are killed are also uniquely dehumanizing. Josh and Mark only appear as corpse-scarecrows at the end, in relatively human shape. We only get to see Connie’s foot after she is killed, and Simon is strung up in a way somewhat comparable to that of a butchered animal.

I don’t mean to imply that Aster is racist, I think he is rather trying to make (extremely subtle) statements about white supremacy while the breakup stuff is happening. I tentatively propose, for now, that the idea is that white supremacy can be lethal and dangerous (even to white people like Mark) but beautiful and accepting on the surface, and how one can be taken into white supremacist communities while vulnerable (like Dani). It’s also worthwhile considering how Pelle’s village thinks so little of human life, and how this is expressed by killing the nonwhite characters. White supremacists do indeed value our lives so little, often covering it with justifications like the theological/spiritual one of the villagers.

It can be difficult to understand how someone becomes a Neo-Nazi or a white supremacist, and in a strange and roundabout way, this movie provides one example.

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