Director: Erik Gandini | Documentary | Sweden 2015 | 75 min.
Erik Gandini (Videocracy) launches a full on attack on Swedish values – but his documentary The Swedish Theory of Love is really just a thinly-disguised attack on women and progressive ideas.
To start with, Gandini bemoans the loss of values before measures by the Social Democratic governments, starting in the ’50s, liberated women from their financial dependency on men. We see happy families in docu-clips featuring women having to look after a huge number of children and chained to the kitchen. Poverty was common – but soon we learn that this was really a good thing, because people cared for each other. Next up, Gandini has a go at single women who have made a conscious decision to bring up their children on their own. After satirising the Sperm-Donor industry in derisory terms (170 litres of frozen sperm are stored); his next attacks are on people who die intestate so leaving their money to the state – hardly a choice they have elected to make. Next we are introduced to the positive role models: a group of modern hippies, living in tents in the wood. They like touching each other (!), something that does not happen in Swedish society, or so Gandini claims. Then the director introduces Dr. Erichsson, a surgeon who has decided to work in an Ethiopian field hospital. Praising his African wife Sennait for getting him away from Sweden where he is surely relieved from the social pressures of the consumer society and the cold climate. Gandini keeps quiet about the negative aspects of Ethiopia such as FGM for Muslim women or the bloody war with Eritrea where the two nations fought each other for years about a few square miles.
Whatever the faults of the Swedish system, the fact that migrants are desperate to enter the country because the life expectancy in poor African countries (the huge majority) is roughly in the mid-thirties, compared with about eighty years in Sweden, which has one of the most advanced Health Services worldwide. Perhaps a reason to put up with sperm-donor banks and the vexed question what to have first: a sauna or a new car. But, as we learn from the Polish born psychologist Zygmunt Bauman, material possessions in the West have reduced our ability to help and care for each other – leaving the audience with the question, why he decided to live in the West in the first place.
Gandini’s yearning for poverty and repression of women are repulsive, his arguments are just the opinions of a frustrated male, trying to justify his obnoxious ideology with pseudo scientific arguments. The Swedish Theory of Love is a dangerous documentary, because it just an opinionated rant, lacking any analysis or connection with reality.