After having given my thoughts to issues such as the erosion of our civil liberties, war, the crisis in education, the history of just about everything, philosophy and religion, I thought it might be time to turn my attention to a really serious subject, Godzilla. Now we all know that Godzilla is the English name for this 100 meter creature, Gojira being the Japanese name. That just should go without saying at this point. Having just spent a morning watching a film in which Godzilla was engaged in combat with Mothra, the giant moth, I cannot help but contemplate the mystery that is the atomic breath dinosaur from the land of the rising sun. What is behind this beast?
As you all know, the original film, Gojira (or Godzilla, King of the Monsters in English) first found its way to the silver screen in 1956. The Japanese film was about 90 minutes long. The original film was supposed to show the dangers of playing around with the elemental powers of atomic energy. This was not the message that the United States wanted going out to a public living in the shadow of the hydrogen bomb, however, so some eleven minutes was cut from the original in order to downplay that theme. Now we all know that Godzilla died at the end of that film. I mean, we all saw the body, didn’t we? And yet, Godzilla was to return in an endless series of sequels. There are some who say the Godzilla was not really killed at all. Others say that he regenerated. Some say that Godzilla has amazing recuperation abilities and heals nearly as quickly as he is injured. That would explain his ability to survive all those battles with other monsters. Still others say that there is an entire colony of these dinosaurs living somewhere (like Monster Island, perhaps?). I smell a conspiracy. They needed people to believe that Godzilla was dead. Otherwise, those Japanese elected officials would never get reelected. After all those attacks on Tokyo, monster safety issues must be an important election issue there. And we won’t even discuss the price of property insurance there.
And of course, there is the question of gender. Gender issues seem to be pervasive in all areas of human, and apparently dinosaur, endeavor. Is Godzilla male, or female? The Japanese say that Gojira is a masculine name, and that Gojilla is the female counterpart. However, according to Toho Inc., the company that produced the first film, Godzilla’s (Gojira’s) name came from a combination of the Japanese word for gorilla, “gorira”, and whale, “kojira”, and that the character was named after a burly stagehand on the set who bore that nickname. Obviously, our favorite anti-Barney is sexually ambiguous. Several church leaders have suggested that Godzilla, and his destructive nature, are symbolic of God’s (note the name “God”-zilla) punishment visited upon the godless homosexual Japanese, but I find this hard to buy.
It does seem that Godzilla has more than his share of testosterone the way he goes into town destroying buildings and eating trains and such. And he proved to King Kong that he liked a good game of football in Godzilla vs. King Kong. But on the other hand, that atomic breath, quick temper, and terrific mood swings could just as easily be indicative of any woman with PMS (or menopausal, for that matter).
It is true that Godzilla has a son (Son of Godzilla), affectionately known as Monilla (not to be confused with Godzilla Jr.). But anyone who has seen that silly little (relatively) creature will note that there is only a passing resemblance to the protagonist of so many films. Could this imp be adopted? We know that he was hatched from a very large egg, but this then begs the question: if Godzilla is a mother, then where is the father? Perhaps Godzilla is hermaphroditic.
And, after seeing so many of Godzilla’s films, you have to wonder. Is Godzilla good or evil? In the beginning, Godzilla seemed pretty damn vindictive; of course anybody might feel grumpy having been awakened like that from a multi-million year slumber. As I suggested earlier, the first film saw Godzilla as a consequence of humankind’s desire to play God and fuck around with powers we didn’t understand completely. But a series of films in the 1960s seemed to show Godzilla as some sort of a superhero who defended us against various monsters and aliens from outer space. Perhaps it was just a phase Godzilla was going through.
Later films would develop the symbolism of humankind against nature (because Godzilla is soooo natural). These films would portray Godzilla in much the same light as, say, a hurricane, or a tornado. Godzilla doesn’t care one way or the other, and your best bet is to get the fuck out of town if you know what’s good for you when Godzilla is on tour. This theme is highlighted in the film, Godzilla versus Ghidra. The film begins with a flashback from world war two, when some Japanese soldiers are rescued by a surprise appearance of Godzilla who frightens off some American Marines. One of the Japanese soldiers believes Godzilla to be some sort of savior. Thirty years later, when Godzilla comes to Tokyo, this soldier, now a business executive, refuses to evacuate his building and stays on the top floor. There is a touching scene in which Godzilla and this former soldier face each other eye to eye. For a moment, both the lizard and the soldier relive that moment back in 1945. Then Godzilla breathes his atomic breath on the guy and he’s toast. In the end, Godzilla just doesn’t give a shit. He’s just a big, dumb, dinosaur.
Supposedly, Godzilla was killed again in 1995, in the film Godzilla versus The Destroyer. Yet, he was to return in 2000 in (of all things) Godzilla 2000. Obviously, they faked his death yet again. So where was Godzilla during these missing five years? Was s/he on hiatus? Some say s/he went off to India to study transcendental meditation. Others claim s/he joined the Church of Scientology. Tom Cruise was unavailable for comment. Some claim that the original Godzilla did, in fact, die back in 1956, and that, after the huge and unexpected success of the first film, a look-alike was sought. They claim there were Godzilla look alike contests held throughout the world with a winner being found in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Their evidence for this is that the later, “look alike” Godzilla is much taller than the original. Just watch the films, they say, you’ll see.
We all know that the Americans tried to make their own Godzilla film, but this movie got poor reviews, and the American counterpart failed to show the kind of durability of the Japanese version. Of course, other people claim that Godzilla just had an excellent agent who was able to crush the career of this digital upstart. And others claim that the Japanese would never allow the Americans to take the lead in gigantic lizard technology. As I give thought to Godzilla, I have to say I am curious. I don’t want to join the others and claim some sort of conspiracy, but there are a lot of unanswered questions. I think it high time this matter be investigated in depth. The public deserves to know.