September 1, 2013
Comfort food. I see it in films, novels, music. Its goal is not to challenge us. Its goal is to make us feel comfortable, at ease, safe. When I lived in Europe in the 80s I remember searching high and low for peanut butter. A peanut butter sandwich felt like home.
It is sometimes difficult to tell what art is comfort food. The outrageous may just give us a sense that we are on the cutting edge of change. It makes us feel safe. A lot of ‘avant-garde’ art is like that. On the other hand, movies like The Butler can also fill that gap. Making us feel that we are on ‘the right side of history’.
I see people reading, reviewing books that they would love to have had in high school. Books that carry them off to another world. That takes them away from the ‘pain’ or ‘boredom’ of this world, that is comfort food.
When you go into a Christian church and see Christ crucified on the cross, that is not comfort food. The sermon may be. Their doctrines may be. But not a man in the last moments of his life.
When art is unsettling, insightful, when it opens up the world to you, that is not comfort food.