On my Godzilla’s mind
About 15 years ago, the young dinosaur-obsessed Pat asked his father where can he find monstrous creatures that are as extraordinary as dinosaurs in the modern day. His father says
“our world is full of monsters, the unimaginable creatures in the deep ocean are monsters to us as we are to them.”
On that time, I didn’t think that my father answered the question, but after fifth teen years have passed I realized that they are something deeper inside of that.
Godzilla is one of my favorite monster movies growing up. Because of that I have couple Godzilla toys in my collection. As a child, I never think of my Godzilla toys more than a dinosaur liked creature with a fascinating look. This representation is exactly what Tomoyuki Tanaka, the creator of the Godzilla franchise came up in the first place as he started questioning
“what if a dinosaur sleeping in the southern hemisphere had been awakened and transformed into a giant by the Bomb? and what if it attacked Tokyo?”
Based on Tanaka’s question, Godzilla is a tangible reflection of the nuclear trauma in Japan, as William Tsutsui pointed out “Godzilla is a sincere horror film, intended to frighten rather than amused, which engaged honestly — indeed, even grimy — with contemporary Japanese unease over a mounting nuclear menace, untrammeled environmental degradation, and long shadow of World War II”. But on the other hand, Godzilla is a victim of the catastrophe itself because it’s habit under the ocean has been disturbance by the nuclear bomb.
Jeffrey Jerome Cohen argues in his monster theory that a monster is the embodiment of many values from cultural body to evolving societal fears. But one thing I see missing from the representation is the true voice of the monster itself. As my father said, the world is full of monster because “monster” is a relative status between us and the strange new thing. Until we have an insightful understanding and start developing relationship with that new thing, the monstrousness between us and them still remain. If Godzilla can speak it’s mind, the feeling that the Godzilla had when the nuclear bomb force it to leave it’s aquatic habitat to wander around the city may be exactly the same as the feeling of people that was running in fear because Godzilla destroyed their houses.
I do agree with Cohen that the metaphoric monster always speak of something larger than itself. However, by calling something a real monster (in the negative manner) is a barbaric way to discriminate something that is different from us. Witch hunts across Europe from 14th — 17th century is an example of the horrible outcome from that process of labeling someone a “monster”. If we blame Godzilla as a monster that cause massive destruction without hearing it’s thought, we may forget realize the real “monster” behind the scene that start the whole nuclear bomb and World War II. To end this reflection, I would like to emphasize the point that “monster” is a relative term. Therefore, I personally think of my Godzilla as a reminder of my extraordinary childhood and I am always looking forward to hear what my Godzilla think of me.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota, 1996. Print.
Tsutsui, William M. Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004. Print.