Godzilla studies

To be honest, I’m writing this blog post as an excuse to show off a few out of a bundle of terrific pics I stumbled across while searching for something else on Google Images (where you’ll find many, many more)…

Ya gotta love Godzilla (more properly, Gojira). Godzilla R Us. S/he’s crabby, overly sensitive, vengeful, impulsive, both predicable and unpredictable, and sometimes downright motherly-protective. Godzilla is a Good/Bad Guy/Girl (who says Godzilla is a he?) who sometimes trashes Tokyo and sometimes saves it from destruction, battling with other products of human crimes against humanity – Mothra, King Gidorah (a.k.a. Gidrah the Three-Headed Monster), Gamera, et alia.

Godzilla has evolved, too, as we (hope we) have, from Cold War icon of the 1950s, a warning about the dangers of Nuclear Anything, to a post-postmodern emblem of impending environmental apocalypse.

And, in keeping with everything else in recent decades, Godzilla has gone global as well. See, for example, In Godzilla’s Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture and the Global Stage, a compendium of scholarly essays about Godzilla in culture (William Tsutsui and Michiko Ito, eds., New York: Palgrave, 2006).

In the Irish Journal of Gothic and Horror Studies, Rafael Montes writes about Japanese and Cuban Godzillas: “Directed by Honda Ishiro, [the original, Japanese] Gojira enacts a narrative of geopolitical disturbance based on the event which took place less than a decade earlier in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki…. The diegetic awakening of Godzilla, brought about by American nuclear testing at the Bikini Atoll after the conclusion of the war, served to illustrate the continuation of militaristic threat for the island of Japan. Moved by the continued presence of and potential for nuclear radiation, especially after the March 1954 nuclear encounter between the United States and the crew of the Daigo Fukuryumaru (Lucky Dragon No. 5), a tuna fishing vessel navigating too close to American nuclear testing sites, Honda created a film to underscore the themes of, in the words of Sayuri Guthrie-Shimizu [see In Godzilla’s Footsteps], ‘nuclear annihilation, environmental degradation, and the apocalyptic potential of modern science run amuck’…. Jorge Molina’s invocation of Godzilla, in his 2000 short film, Yo Soy Godzilla, occurs in a Cuba where, to the director, social, economic, and political monstrosities are readily apparent…. Molina appropriates archetypal images of global horror (vampires, slashers, werewolves, monsters) in order to explore his philosophical and political ideology under the repression of a totalitarian regime. Dolman 2000, the collection of short films in which Yo Soy Godzilla appears, uses the horrific in order to impart to the audience the horror that is living in modern-day Cuba outside of the dictates of the regime.” Read it yourself: “Yo Soy Godzilla! – the possibilities and futilities of Cuban horror.”

Last month, Open University’s Alan Valdez gave a seminar at the University of Nottingham on the topic “Godzilla meets Fukushima: Science fiction and vernacular sense making regarding nuclear disasters in Japan, US and UK,” explaining how “atomic monsters” (or kaiju) in science fiction movies serve as “metaphors of processes and socio-technical complexes too complicated and too difficult to visualize otherwise.”

If you are not so interested as I am in cultural critique and more inclined to “hard” science, you might be interested in learning about Godzilla’s anatomy and biology. See “The science of Godzilla, 2010,” a Tetrapod Zoology blog post at Scientific American’s web site.

Turning from science to cinema again, I must recommend one of my favorite cartoons, “Bambi Meets Godzilla,” by Marv Newland (1969). You can watch it on YouTube. I recall seeing, but cannot locate online, “Bambi’s Revenge.” According to Paghat the Rat Girl – who reviews “horror films & Japanese cinema & Asian films generally” at a web site called Weird Wild Realm – “an even shorter, even more primitive sequel to [Bambi Meets Godzilla], Bambi’s Revenge (1978) [is] rumored to have been created by Frank Wetzel while he was living in a truck.”

Finally, I have to mention sightings of Godzilla, and Bambi, in the world of psychiatry. “In a now classic 1982 article” in the American Journal of Psychiatry, M.B. Parloff described “psychotherapy research evidence and reimbursements decision[s]” as a “Bambi meets Godzilla” scenario (Am J Psychiatry 139(6):718-727). According to Richard M. Glass, M.D., reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Parloffconcluded that although research evidence in psychotherapy outcome at that time was ‘extensive and positive,’ it was not responsive” to policymakers’ questions about what kinds of psychotherapy are most effective and for what sorts of problems.   Glass’s 2008 article is entitled  “Psychodynamic Psychotherapy and Research Evidence: Bambi Survives Godzilla?”

Just FYI, Glass concludes that since 1982, “there has been a substantial increase in evidence for the efficacy of specific forms of psycho-therapy for specific psychiatric disorders.”

That’s all for today!

 

 

 

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