[SPOILER ALERT] In this article we’re going to show you a parallel between Dani’s journey in the movie Midsommar and Hayley’s life experiences in Paramore, divorce, and also her thoughts on therapy sessions.
Film and life portray a fine line between wrath and mercy. Such theme establishes the mood for the first release of William’s solo project, set for January 22nd.
If you are following Hayley’s new project, Petals for Armor, you must have already known the singer’s references to the movie Midsommar, by the same diretor as the frightening ‘Hereditary’, Ari Aster.
(Midsommar) Unlike Hereditary, Midsommar is a horror movie that doesn’t fit the genre standards. Whoever watches it expecting to find the classic night environment and supernatural beings, gets surprised. The experience goes beyond ghost appearances that causes jumpscare. Throughout the film, you may face the sense of displeasure at the absurdity of witnessing characters who feel claustrophobic and trapped in an open field in Sweden – or even disgust at seeing grotesque scenes that take place in daylight.
(Petals for Armor) This paradoxical context of light and darkness has already been noticed on Paramore’s album After Laughter. On it, there’re heavy and melancholic lyrics, which are combined with a bright and cheerful sonority. Should we expect the same festive rhythm blended with obscure lyrics on Petals for Armor?
(MS) In the movie, we begin the narrative with Dani, the main character, going through several personal issues, such as relationship crisis and the death of her parents and sister; situations that lead her to a deep emotional breakdown.
(PFA) In an interview in early 2019, (https://l-odet.com/hayley) Hayley opened up about family issues, conflicts in the band, and mostly, her marriage. Situations that led her to depression and suicidal thoughts:
“I had started to have a lot of suicidal thoughts. I was thinking about death all the time” (HW).
(MS) In Midsommar, the main couple carry on a broken relationship, in which breaking up is just a matter of time. However, Dani is looking to reestablish their relationship by embarking on a trip with her boyfriend (Christian) and his friends to attend a festival in an alternative community of Sweden.
(PFA) In the same interview, Hayley mentioned that she was unhappy in her marriage, the singer did not want to get married and she was pushing on something that she knew would not work out: “I was married. I didn’t really want to get married; I thought I did, but I didn’t. […] I knew that I shouldn’t have gone through with the marriage.” (HW).
(MS) In the village, everything seems quiet, with seemingly peaceful and fliendly people wearing light clothes with lots of color and flowers. On the other hand, Dani faces heavy emotional crisis, suggesting that she may collapse at any moment.
(PFA) This contradiction also happened to Hayley while facing her divorce; It occurred in the course of the After Laughter release. The singer mentions that she lived in two realities: one in which she was emotionally devastated because of her personal life and another in which she felt great in her career: “I was living two very different realities (…)The band stuff was going great though, and I was having such a great time re-introducing myself to my friend group. (…)It was tense and it also felt like I couldn’t be congruent in both atmospheres. Home with this person, out with these people” (HW).
(MS) The scene that anticipates the climax of the movie is a ceremony that would elect the Queen of May. Dani has some hallucinogenic tea and participates in a cult where women covered by flowers, should dance until the last one stands, this being Dani, who is elected queen.
It’s noticed the symbolism of flowers representing femininity, and the Spring illustrating the beginning of a new cycle. After this ritual, we can see Dani’s transformation and emotional healing. She finally feels part of something again.
(PFA) Hayley reports an experience in which, during therapy, she found herself covered with flowers all over her body as a sign of healing, femininity and a fresh start: “I had this vision of all of these flowers growing out of me (…)That’s you. This is now. This is what’s happening right now and this is what you’ve been digging around in the dirt for during the last year. This beauty and femininity and new strength is going to come out of you. (…)I’ve picked up a lot of flowers for my house since then. I just keep them around me all the time to remind me that I’m moving into femininity and strength and then femininity and aloneness” (HW).
(MS) Dani finds herself lonely, without her family, in a relationship that is on the verge of collapse and she is still experiencing an existential crisis. In this scenario, she finds in the community a new concept of family and the sense of belonging to a place and a group of people.
(PFA) Hayley also mentions a new concept of family with Paramore members: “when I moved here and met them. [I found] people that were like me and I was like them, too.”(…) So I’ve had a lot of unravelling and deconstruction of my ideas of family, loyalty, commitment.” (HW).
(MS) After being elected queen, Dani sees her boyfriend in a cult having sex with a woman. Experiencing the betrayal, rage becomes her. The great climax of the movie comes with Dani having the power to decide whether to have mercy on her boyfriend, or to follow her wrath and condemn him to the final ritual, in which he would be burned to death. Well, in that case the wrath won out.
(PFA) Hayley has confessed feeling much anger during the dark period of her life, stating that: “The anger had already melted into depression because I didn’t let it come out” (HW). On recent posts by Petals for Armor’s Instagram, the singer has written the words “Wrath” and “Mercy” as well as the phrase “How to draw the line between wrath and mercy”.
(MS) In the final scene, Dani is in silence, in the midst of vociferous screams, watching the healing fire burn, with a look that goes from wrath to serenity.
(PFA) Dani’s image in this scene was published on Petals for Armor’s Instagram stories. The phrase “Rage is a silent thing” was used as a caption on a Hayley Williams’ Instagram post.
Dani has gone through a process of emotional healing, and so has Hayley. “Now I would look at it and say, today, the person I am at 30, I feel healthy (…) it’s taken a lot of gardening in my heart, a lot of digging up so much soil and finding old roots that were in the way of other things blooming.” (HW).
Of course Hayley’s journey hasn’t involved violence, blood, and crazy rituals in Sweden, but the singer may have used her artistic sensitivity to get inspired by the movie.
After all, life doesn’t imitate art, they are merged.
Author: Bruna Fracaro (Paramore Brasil)