By Johnny Apocalypse
September 1, 2013
Recently, I was re-watching the original "Godzilla" movie and enjoying the hell out of it. While there are older movies that hold up well, there are plenty that don't. So where do I slot "Godzilla"? Somewhere in between the good and the bad. The monster looks bad (worse than it usually does, actually), there are some very dated aspects, the list goes on. But there are also a few scenes where the special effects work very nicely, like when some electrical towers melt. You can tell that they're using miniatures, and it's not perfect, but it still looks pretty damn well done.
But while watching the movie, I had a sudden thought- why does Godzilla only attack Japan, or more specifically, Tokyo? Sure, they had that one movie in the nineties where he attacked New York, but that's not really Godzilla. The real guy sticks to Tokyo.
It gets even more confusing if you look at the inspirations for the movie, in part the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but more importantly (and not taught so much in history classes) the American nuclear test that irradiated the Japanese fishing ship "Lucky Dragon 5". These factors are why the movie says that Godzilla was awoken by nuclear tests (or in some versions that he was a result of a radioactive mutation). It's a metaphor for the possible horrors of the nuclear age.
So, enemies of Japan drop some nukes. test even more nukes. wake up Godzilla. and he takes it out on Tokyo. What crucial step am I missing here?
And you'd think that at least one of the guys in the movie would try to explain things to the lizard.
"Hey! Godzilla! HEY! We didn't wake you up! It was America! AMERICA! Do you hear me? Go east! EAST! THE OTHER FUCKING DIRECTION!"
"Hey, asshole! You're not listening! We didn't do shit! Turn around and attack America!"
Now the idea of yelling at a giant lizard who's trashing the town may seem ridiculous, but it's no more ridiculous than the idea of a giant lizard trashing the town in the first place. To me, reasoning with such a creature is just as useful a task as trying to shoot it with an assault rifle. Except for the fact that reasoning would be way funnier than shooting it.
In the end, I figure that Godzilla is just plain racist. He flat out hates Japanese people. He's been asleep for hundreds of years, gets woken up by a noisy hydrogen bomb, and his first thought- "Now where was I? Oh, that's right! Killing the Japanese!"
"But Johnny, what about all those times he saved Japan from other monsters?"
What indeed? In the first two movies, it's just Godzilla trashing Tokyo. The same racist cock comes back in "Godzilla 1985", also known as "The Return of Godzilla". In between the second and "1985", he may well have saved Japan from unknown horrors, but he still destroyed Japan due to his size. He knocked over buildings (probably lots of orphanages), crushed cars and probably fire-breathed a lot of people off camera. It's basically like a KKK member telling some kids "Hey, leave that black guy alone! I want to beat him up!"
Or the producers realized that they'd created a horribly prejudiced icon and figured they should do something to make him heroic. I don't know, I'm not doing any research here.
On a related note, why would anyone continue to live in Tokyo after Godzilla has trashed the damn place so often? If some gigantic monster trashed Denver once, I might call it a fluke. Twice, I'm really hoping the military killed it that time. But after the third time, I'm gone! Must be something really special about Tokyo to keep everyone there, but I can't see why it would be worth the hassle.
"Why did I get a thirty-year mortgage? I have to rebuild my house at least ten, twenty times! The hell with this, I'm moving to Okinawa!"
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