Does “How Midsommar Brainwashes You” Fulfill Orlik’s Definition of Media Criticism?


In the video essay titled “How Midsommar Brainwashes You,” made by Nathan Wellman, he explains how the movie Midsommar‘s audience is brainwashed by the film (much like the character Dani is by the other characters), causing many to think of the ending as happy and inspiring. Wellman breaks down the movie and the brainwashing tactics the cult uses on the main character and how those same techniques are used on the audience.

Peter Orlik defines media criticism as “carefully considered judgment of the merits and faults of a work of art with the purpose of improving and stimulating interest.” Wellman’s video partially fulfills this media criticism definition because he definitely stimulates interest by analyzing the clever manipulation tactics that are used on the audience members. For those who have seen the movie, this video may cause them to look more in-depth at the movie and think about their interpretation of the ending and why they interpreted it that way. As for myself, I have seen this movie once, but this video made me consider watching it again while keeping Wellman’s analysis in mind to see what he is talking about first-hand, rather than just through the included video clips. For this reason, the video fulfills the “improving and simulating interest” part of Orlik’s definition.

When it comes to Wellman’s “judgement of the merits and faults” of the film, he doesn’t take time to criticize it. He only really mentions what the director does well in terms of tactics used to make the audience feel certain emotions throughout, such as lighting choice. However, without commenting on the faults of the movie, he is unable to give a full analysis.

It is clear that Wellman’s main purpose for the video was to talk about how the movie brainwashes its audience, rather than analyze the movie as a whole, deciding not to note everything he liked and disliked in terms of acting, plot, etc. In this, he does accomplish his goal, but his video does not fully fit Orlik’s definition of media criticism.