Godzilla VS the Pandemic and Other Kaiju Sized Social Issues

My love for Godzilla goes back to when I was a child. My brother and I only had two channels on the TV so on Sunday nights the local cable station used to play older movies. For a long time, you could almost guarantee it was a Godzilla movie from the ’60s and ’70s. There is something charming about those movies still today, but as a child, I didn’t quite understand a lot of the political meeting of the movies.

Years have gone by and now Godzilla has become relevant again, and to be honest, I think the new Legendary Godzilla movies and the monster universe it is creating are pretty dope. The love I had as a child, I now get to rekindle as an adult with my kids. My 3-year-old in particular loves his Godzilla toys from Bandai. We were watching the 1984 film The Return of Godzilla yesterday, and it really hit me hard with what is going on in the world today.

This film serves as both a sequel to the original 1954 film, where Godzilla is depicted as a huge, destructive, prehistoric creature awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation. With the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was a metaphor for nuclear weapons. In many senses, Godzilla was man-made.and a reboot of the franchise The return of Godzilla erases a period of non-serious, made for kids Godzilla of the late ’60s and ’70s (I’m fond of this Godzilla) and places itself back in line with the darker tone and themes of the original, making Godzilla go back to his destructive and antagonistic roots.

In the 1954 film, we see the monster that causes disaster all across Toyko, which doesn’t just mirror the nuclear attacks on Japan in 1945 but also shows how citizens live their lives throughout a crisis. In The Return of Godzilla, we get to relive that fear 30 years later. In both of these films, we are shown the panicking mobs of citizens, the damaged people who have lived years with fear that their world is coming to an end, and trust issues. In the 1954 film, Godzilla is “destroyed”, and with the 1984 reboot returns 30 years later to pick up where he left off.

Having recently watched both of these Godzilla films, I noticed how familiar it’s depictions of the government’s commitment to diplomatic relations and economic well-being over public health seems a lot like some of Coivid-19 concerns and conversations over the past few months. We have seen things go flip flop, and have even heard people have conversations about quickly regathering so the economy does fall apart. There have been many statements that I’ve heard that our government does not care about the health and safety of our people.

Chief Editor:  The government is well aware that the monster exists.
Goro Maki:  But why keep it a secret?
Chief Editor:  The monster is Godzilla, that’s why.
Goro Maki:  Godzilla? I knew it…
Chief Editor:  Suppose Maki, that we print your story. There would be a mass panic on all levels of society. The stock market would collapse. The cabinet would be out of power. For now, just keep it to yourself.

The Return of Godzilla (1984)

This quote shares a similar sentiment in the 1954 film where some government consultants share similar words with the leaders. With the Covid-19 pandemic still going on, you can imagine that there were pretty similar conversations that went exactly that way behind closed doors across nations worldwide in the beginning part of the year. These scenes (and many others senses in the franchise) serve as a reminder to us that, in the midst of disaster, the reality of people’s lives, often is a second thought to constructs like “the economy” and “political agendas.”

Here is another thought for you. I mentioned my love for the Godzilla of the 60s and 70s and even the more recent blockbuster adaptation of Godzilla, but these movies miss the mark of what the first Godzilla movie was all about. The ’60s and ’70s also known as the Shōwa era to Godzilla fan became a sillier era of Gozilla. The focus of the man-made monster shifted its focus on a Godzilla that was a hero, giving high fives, jump kicking the bad monsters, and even doing victory dances. While I don’t think every movie needs a political undertone, did we forget about the horrors of how all this became? Did we normalize the issue at hand?

He’s a product of civilization. Men are the only real monsters. Godzilla’s more like a nuclear weapon.

Dr. Hayashida -The Return of Godzilla (1984)

Not only are we facing a pandemic, but we are also still fighting a fight against social injustice. A long issue, that is rooted in the heart. I have heard statements of people saying they thought “slavery was over years ago.” Just like Godzilla, it ended in 1950, only to resurface decades later? NO! We put silliness in between then and now, we forget what really is going on. While I don’t think we should try to remove the past, we must face our mistakes and deal with the here and now. We have humans that are hurting humans, still today. I’ve heard a silly comment about how it is only just the pandemic getting under our skin that is bring up the Black Lives Matter issue…. The pandemic is not making people bad people, it is only revealing what is deep down in the heart. Humans are the monsters in this story still. There really is no forgetting the past, and yes, as a past like slavory that really never ended anyways, it will last decades, and will be past down from generation.

The beast has a purpose. 30 years ago, Godzilla appeared for the first time. Before that, he was only a legend. Godzilla is a warning. A warning to every one of us. When mankind falls into conflict with nature, monsters are born. I’m just trying to… send him home.

Dr. Hayashida -The Return of Godzilla (1984)

In these uncertain times, we still have to live our lives. We can not go back to the lives we had before, and for good reasons. Let us learn from our mistakes and move forward for all of Humankind, and not going back to our mistakes. let us not blame the pandemic for the issues our hearts, but use this time to reflect on how we can be better humans.

I pray that someday we can all overcome the injustice we do to each other, and just do a silly Godzilla victory dance, but until then let out hearts soften to try to work towards taking each day, loving each other one step at a time.

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