So, yeah, that’s me as a kid dressed up like Godzilla for Book Week at school. We were supposed to dress up as our favorite book character, and I looked and looked until I found a Godzilla book just so I could dress up in this awesome costume at school. I was a super-cool kid.
I’m sure you know by now that the new Godzilla flick is coming out in a couple of weeks. I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about it, even though I know I’m just getting sucked into the hype. American movie studios don’t understand Godzilla. I know I sound like a whiny teenager (but mom just doesn’t understand me), but this much is true. This new film will make Godzilla a huge CGI monster. He will be much more “realistic,” and through the magic of CGI, his devastation will look as much like real devastation as possible. There are a few things I’m worried about, though.
Original Japanese Godzilla was a metaphor for atomic weapons. His ability to destroy and his radioactive breath was the atomic threat. That’s what made him a great monster. Just like Stoker’s Dracula, Shelley’s Creature, and Romero’s zombies before him, Godzilla represented a legitimate cultural fear.What, ultimately, would all of that radioactivity from Hiroshima and Nagasaki do to the people of Japan? Godzilla was the embodiment of that anxiety.
The American version can’t have him represent the same threat in the same way. If he ends up being the same symbol, his meaning changes. He then represents something that we are doing to ourselves, not something we had done to us. That could be interesting enough. I just worry that they will strip him of his symbolism.
And honestly, the loss of the symbol is the least of my worries. I would be happy with watching a giant monster movie for entertainment purposes only–especially now that I see Godzilla will feature a second monster (or group of monsters) that the Internet tells me is called Muto. The single greatest thing about the original Godzilla films was the scenes where two ridiculous-looking monsters just slugged it out in a good, old-fashioned fist-fight. As we know, Godzilla was usually a man in a suit fighting other men in suits (or animatronics) in little, miniature cities. The cheesier and the campier, the better. It’s the same thing, in my opinion, that made the original Star Wars trilogy far superior to the new trilogy–it doesn’t take itself too seriously and doesn’t use CGI as a crutch. I am quite certain that the new Godzilla will be less 1977 Star Wars and more Michael Bay Transformers.
But still, I will watch it. I will watch it and I will love it, at least at first, because of what Godzilla the cultural icon means to me. When I was a kid, I was fascinated with the world that was created in these movies–a world populated by monsters. I was enthralled with the giant moths and the three-headed monsters that Godzilla fought. In the franchise, I was introduced to my first anti-hero–the monster that saved Japan as often as he destroyed it. It was a complex and magical fiction that was written in a culture that was foreign to me. I wrote my own giant monster stories and made my own giant monster videos.
In many ways, Godzilla made me curious and inspired me to creative pursuits. Sometimes, I still catch myself doodling the monster’s profile in my notes at meetings.
So yeah–I’m kind of excited about the new film. But if I’m honest, I’m even more excited that Godzilla vs. Mothra is streaming on my TV right now. Man! That shriek that Godzilla lets out when he comes out of the ocean for the first time–it still gets me.
What were your unique inspirations as a child? What was the first book/ movie/ series you remember being way excited about?
Until next time!