• Robison Wells

"Creature Comforts" by Arcade Fire

The video for Arcade Fire's "Creature Comforts" shows the band--dressed in shimmering gold and silver, illuminated by spotlights and strobes--from the neck down. The style is synth-pop, synthesizers, electronica, and even a keytar. It sounds like dance music with a catchy melody and a strong bass line. It could be a song about anything--a peppy love song, a feel-good pop sensation.

It's about suicide, body shaming, cutting, depression, and self-hate. The video illustrates it, showing an overly-fantastical world where everything is light and flashing and glittering, as if to say "this is everything that you're supposed to be."

The repeated hook and chorus is:

Some girls hate their bodies, Stand in the mirror and wait for the feedback. Saying "God, make me famous. If you can't, just make it painless"

It's a song about the harsh pressure put on girls (and boys) to be perfect, famous, and beautiful, and the lyrics are devastating:

Assisted suicide She dreams about dying all the time She told me she came so close Filled up the bathtub and put on our first record Saying "God, make me famous. If you can't, just make it painless Just make it painless."

The twist comes in the two-thirds through, where the singer replies to the girl in the mirror:

It's not painless She was a friend of mine, a friend of mine

This isn't a trifling thing. Suicide isn't painless. The song continues with the refrain, finally ending with a short piece of simple advice:

It goes on and on, I don't know what I want On and on, I don't know if I want it On and on, I don't know what I want On and on, I don't know if I want it... Well if you're not sure, better safe than sorry

I find so much to love in this song, and so much to think about. I have depression and I've had suicidal ideation. I've self-harmed. But more than that, I think about my kids, and especially my teenage daughter, and the pressure that is put on her to look pretty and be popular.

(From a lyrical perspective, I think it's interesting that the word "painless", and the phrase "make it painless" are so immediately linked to suicide. The theme to M*A*S*H, after all, was "Suicide is Painless", but that show outdates the all the musicians in Arcade Fire, and most assuredly the majority of their listeners. But when we hear "make it painless", we know exactly what they're talking about. I find that interesting.)

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