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Godzilla: Metaphor of History’s Extinction

Tuesday, May 20, 2014 18:35
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Godzilla: Metaphor of History's Extinction


There have been a number of e-mails that I have received and a few tweets and Facebook posts that are holding out hope that I speak about the fact that Godzilla has returned to our pop culture. Godzilla roared into theaters last week and the box office shows that no matter how many times this fire breathing monster makes it to the big screen we most certainly will pay to see him.

We have all watched the Japanese Godzilla films and the man in the rubber suit moving like a drunken toddler through a miniature Tokyo. We see them as entertainment and in some ways silly and endearing. Godzilla has been around for decades and in each outing he represents a metaphor for the nuclear age.

He is the result of nuclear radiation and while Americans will laugh at the rudimentary costumes and lip synching of dialogue the Japanese sympathize with Godzilla as a creature that does not know what he is doing.

Godzilla is a power that destroys things but needs to be understood and respected.

He is a way of life and a metaphor that we as Americans have in our collective unconscious as well. We have rehearsed over and over again disaster scenarios in television shows and we have pointed out how movies have given us predictive programming scenarios to comprehend.

Godzilla has always been one of my favorite examples of a destructive and protector entity that has been conjured as a reminder of how close we come to our own demise. We sometimes think of an extinction level event only when we are told we have had a close shave with an asteroid or a possible earthquake or volcanic eruption.

Godzilla was a metaphor that represented the Golem that was unleashed after mankind tampered with the powers of nature. Godzilla has always been a horrific reminder to not play with the powers of God. It was a very powerful metaphor for a Monster that is used to protect and defend, kill and then redeemed regardless of the destruction it created or the people it displaced or snatched away.

Today, however, we are being told that our days have been numbered. We either hear it from the new age thinkers who see doomsday in ancient calendars or we are told by politicians and scientists that our days on earth will be cut short because of Earth changes and dire predictions of environmental disaster due to the abuses we have allegedly committed against nature.

At first, Godzilla was a metaphor to illustrate the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. From the time of his conception Godzilla has been a symbol that embodies the overriding fears of a particular era. The destructive force of this monster is most certainly the embodiment of the reptilian “id” and how a monster from the id cannot be taken back or deleted from history.

Like it or not, this reptilian mind and destructive id lives inside the collective unconscious. It is a part of all of us that cannot be reckoned with, it is the part of us that has no mercy and seeks no justice. It is simply the part of the reptilian consciousness that sees only a means to destroy with the hope that whatever is decimated will return or will be made whole.

The only trouble is that in the reptilian mindset, the part that is always forgotten is that some things can never return and once they are dead they remain that way. Sometime when we play with fire, we get burned and sometimes we become reduced to nothing but carbon.

When we become charcoal and everyone is burning at once it is then and only then we learn that all men are equal. It is a twisted metaphor but the finality of our history would dictate that this could be one of many ways we will say farewell to this existence.

We have decided that it is easier to surrender our power to those in government that pose as undertakers who not make deals, and when they do the deals are merely Faustian bargains.

Godzilla is very much a devil that plays both sides and, in the end, he always wins. He is eternal and, even with all the havoc he creates, the people in his stories always seem to be grateful when he decides to go back to his watery slumber. He is quite simply the very destructive deus ex machina that is summoned by accident during world disasters and when desperate attitudes seem to cry out.

In theaters, the Godzilla we see now is without a border. He is no longer limited to Tokyo. That is because in world where sovereign borders are dissolving rapidly there is really no need to defend Tokyo anymore. The problems are not just based in one area, the entire world now is lost and even it seems Godzilla is a bit out of his territory, fighting strange mutant monsters that he has never really encountered before.

As I said a few days ago when we revealed the events that happened in Port Chicago in 1944 – the notion of an unknown or unfamiliar story does not erase the destruction or the fact that many parts of this Bay Area city are now unlivable. I was absolutely shocked to see that ‘ground zero’ for the final fight of the monsters in this new 2014 film, would be the Bay Area. It was said that radiation from some source was attracting the monsters and I kind of smiled and thought that perhaps someone else knew and wanted to tell the story that we told about Port Chicago.

I guess in many and all cases, cataclysm can resonate with almost any historic event. After all, the new film did show us what appeared to be a Japanese nuclear power plant and seemed to paint a very grim reenactment of the horrible events that happened at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The most important thing to realize while watching Godzilla in this outing is that the soldiers and the scientists seem to stand idly by as the world around them is being destroyed. All they can do is solemnly bear witness to all of the destruction. No guns can defeat the monsters, no armies or even nuclear war heads can bring them down. All they have to do is go through their cycle of destruction and then when the battle is over we all have to hope that we can rebuild our lives.

This is why it is safe to bend the allegory of Godzilla towards the environmental balance of nature and how the future is suspect because of pseudo-science and real science that demonstrates that the planet has been ravaged mainly by war and the military industrial complex as they continue to believe that war is completely without blame when it comes to our so called resource crisis and that idea of global climate disruption.

While the metaphor is not heavy-handed, it is obvious that we are seeing exactly what a modern extinction level event looks like.

Take a look at some of the events in history that have traumatized us: the attacks of 9/11 had all of the destruction of a Godzilla movie and the events at Fukushima were also similar to a Godzilla film without the lizard stomping its way to the melting core.

As Word and Film says, “In the decades since the original “Godzilla,” we’ve seen” plenty of monsters that represent plagues.

We have in the past used zombies to carry the fear of every conceivable social anxiety that exists in the apocalypse. The apocalypse is now the great mystery that we debate over whether or not we are in the middle of it or still waiting for it to unravel.

The apocalypse warns us of where we will end up if we do not curb our sexual appetites, prepare for the alien invasion, eliminate political malfeasance, kill the terrorists, inoculate against the deadly biological threat, prevent the environmental degradation, avoid our desire for drugs and alcohol, and stop racism.

Godzilla, on the other hand, is the great equalizer and most certainly represents a sort of Armageddon metaphor. It is the ancient warning that the arrival of Leviathan, the great sea dragon, will bring us to the precipice of our own extinction.

The bottom line is that Godzilla in this century is meant to teach us a lesson about our hubris towards how we treat ourselves and how we treat our environment. It is not preachy at all and seems to be even handed.

It also speaks volumes about how we as humans are under the delusion that we can control everything in this world. Godzilla is now a metaphor for a blow back that is waiting to come and wreak havoc on all of us.

This has always been my worry is that all of our past “sins,” all of our military campaigns where we have killed hundreds of thousands with high tech weapons, all of the depleted uranium we have dropped on the Earth and all of the resources we have gobbled up for so-called military threats will “blow back.”

This “blow back” threatens the security of the world. Godzilla films have always held military spending under suspicion. Where weapons can wipe out cities, they are no match for a monster that just might literally be nature itself.

Nature has the potential to destroy us over our arrogance towards it, and all the weaponry in the world can’t spare us from that wrath. We are always told that world is ending because of things like climate change.

The truth is, it is not that the world is ending—it will remain a long time. The truth is that our way of life is ending, and that resources are depleting. You can blame it on the latest pseudo science nonsense or you can use simple math to determine that there are a lot of human beings on the planet and the powers that be would rather see you dead than have to spend any more time or even money on anything you might need for survival.

Our flawed behaviors and desperate moves, demonstrate the anxiety that triggers real monsters from nature.

The wrath of Godzilla is a metaphor for the wrath of God and in order to save the world, God will have to bring balance to nature. No government can do it, they can only stand idly by and watch nature take its course.


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