“Comfort” characters, movies aid students through troubling times

Anna Marquardt, co-a&e editor

Junior Kevyn Kerwin sat on her bed, alone and bored. The pandemic had isolated her physically and emotionally, and she was in desperate need of something comforting. She opened her computer and turned on Coraline, and the movie instantly lifted her spirit.

Kerwin discovered Coraline nine years ago, and believes that she has watched it close to a hundred times since. She recalls relying on it to help her navigate the challenges of isolation during the first Covid-19 stay-at-home order in early 2020.

“With the future [of the pandemic] being so uncertain, I found comfort in [Coraline],” Kerwin said. “[Comfort characters] can motivate us to keep going even when times are tough.”

Kerwin said that she can turn to comfort movies and characters to find happiness or nostalgia in troubling times. The movies and characters can offer support when real people sometimes cannot, Kerwin said.

“A comfort movie is something that is always there to cheer you up and can never let you down,” Kerwin said. “There is something special about finding stuff in common with [someone or something that] isn’t real because when you feel like no one in real life understands how you feel or what you’re going through, you know the character always will.”

Freshman Zellie Hammond echoed that sentiment, saying that they turn to their comfort movie, Wall-E, in times of uneasiness. The movie came out when Hammond was very young, and they cannot remember a time when they didn’t watch it to ease them.

“[My comfort movie] is a thing to fill the space and it makes me less anxious,” Hammond explained. “[It’s nice to have] so you don’t feel so alone in your space.”

Hammond thinks that part of the appeal of a comfort movie is that it always remains the same, no matter how much the world is changing.

“Knowing that something is always the same and within [my] control is comforting,” Hammond said. “You can always find Wall-E on a CD or on Disney Plus.”

Junior Julie Antonoglu loves watching her comfort movie, Teen Beach Movie, because it reminds her of her younger self. Each viewing of the film allows Antonoglu to reminisce about her childhood and to feel the unique joy that the soundtrack and scenes give her.

“I always feel super nostalgic when I rewatch [Teen Beach Movie]; it’s like I’m eight again,” Antonoglu said. “I’ve loved it for so long and it’s still applicable to my life, even though I’m 17 now.”

Antonoglu also feels a strong connection to the film’s protagonist, McKenzie “Mack” Fox, especially the way she reacts to what’s happening around her. Although the two have very different experiences, Antonoglu has found solace in knowing that she can watch a fictionalized version of herself overcome struggles.

“I feel like people choose comfort [movies and characters] because they relate to the show or movie in some way, which builds a deeper connection between the viewer and program,” Antonoglu said. “Comfort programs can provide a hand to hold during a difficult time someone could be going through.”