Nordic Noir is a recent phenomenon – The Killing, Borgen and, my fave, The Bridge – are TV crime series that show gruesome killings and the dark underbelly of Scandinavian life. It’s a bit ironic since the UN considers Denmark to be ‘the happiest country to live in’. Now I am no Scandinavian expert – I cycled round a section of Denmark this summer and I have watched a few things on the TV. But it’s worth considering why the Dark Side is so vividly explored, exposed and popular in these series.
Soren Malling, actor in The Killing, said "maybe it’s because we are comfortable with exploring our dark side that it makes us happier - we see ourselves as we really are and we are not so hard on ourselves and each other." Some of us in the UK suffer from pointing out the criminals and attempting to punish as harshly as we can, in the mistaken belief that punishment will satisfy and restore us.
There were some uncomfortable studies done at the time of the tragic death of Jamie Bulger in the early 90s and the trial of those who caused his death – the boys were not yet teenagers. The research compared the UK response to this crime and the Norwegian reaction to a similar crime in their country. It showed that our punitive and judgmental response was in sharp contrast to an enlightened Norwegian society that upheld the status of the criminals as children and they should be given anonymity and an opportunity to continue their lives away from the prison system.
Jesus said to his friends to deal with the whacking great plank in their own eyes before they pointed out the miniscule splinter in someone else’s. Let’s not be hard on others and give a little bit of attention to our own selfishness. Then, instead of being hard on ourselves, let’s allow God to show what grace, mercy and forgiveness is all about – we might be pleasantly surprised and amazed.