Wednesday, July 31, 2013

About Us

Welcome to Giant Monsters Among Us, an online monument to the horror, science fiction, fantasy-action movies, TV shows, books and videos that all fall under the subgenre of speculative fiction that is Giant Monsters!  From classics to contemporary works - and even a few of the oddball titles you've possibly never heard of - we're here to discuss our love of all things Giant Monsters, whether it be Daikaiju like Godzilla and Gamera, or American offerings like the 50 foot Woman or The Blob - All are welcome!

It should perhaps be noted that I am the current owner and only curator of Giant Monsters Among Us, and as such, I do not actually own any of the franchises or characters that I will be discussing here on this site, and am relying heavily on the work and research of those who have come before me for a great deal of my information.  As a lifelong fan of giant monsters, I am not taking credit for anything on this site, save for curating and consolidating the already-available information out there in homage to giant monster movies in hopes or creating a one-stop online location for critique and analysis of these movies that I have loved since childhood. 

Below, you will find my basic analysis of Giant Monsters and how they function narratively, as well as why they appeal to so many audiences.  It's wordy, but also serves as a good introduction to my current interests in the genre from the perspective of a cultural and critical theorist.  If you have any questions, comments or concerns, please feel free to leave comments, and I will get to them as soon as I am able!  Thank you!

About Giant Monsters:

Pictured above is Fransisco Goya's piece, "El sueño de la razon produce monstruos," or roughly translated as, "The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters."  It is one of many the Spanish artist's etchings depicting monsters and nightmares, symbolizing his views on life at the time - still, this one remains particularly profound due its double meaning.  If the old saying that "art is in the eye of the beholder" holds any sway here, both interpretations of this piece might be correct, and both provide an excellent starting place for this website's journey into the world of Giant Monsters.  From the NYU online database"The meaning of the title, "El sueño de la razon produce monstruos," has been debated, mainly because "sueño" can mean both "to sleep" and "to dream." Known as a pintor filósofo, Goya may have intended to affirm the Enlightenment by saying that when reason sleeps, the imagination produces monsters resulting in madness. Or, he may have implied that pure reason, or reason alone without imagination leads to madness, even horror." The piece's two interpretations seem to suggest a certain duality to the concept of monstrosity, pointing to a fusion between what is familiar, and what is alien.

Taken directly from Wikipedia’s article on Monsters“The word "monster" derives from the Latin "monstrum," an aberrant occurrence, usually biological, that was taken as a sign that something was wrong within the natural order. The word usually connotes something wrong or evil; a monster is generally morally objectionable, physically or psychologically hideous, and/or a freak of nature. It can also be applied figuratively to a person with similar characteristics like a greedy person or a person who does horrible things. However, the root of 'monstrum' is 'monere'—which does not only mean to warn, but also to instruct, and forms the basis of the modern English, "demonstrate." Thus, the monster is also a sign or instruction. This benign interpretation was proposed by Saint Augustine, who did not see the monster as inherently evil, but as part of the natural design of the world, a kind-of deliberate category error.”  This deliberate category error seems to be almost in direct response to the question that if God truly exists as an all-powerful creator, why then does he allow the devil to exist?  While there's no easy theological answer to that question, it does unearth a profoundly fascinating truth about the human tendency for categorization, and rationalizing that which cannot be categorized.  For interest's sake, why not look at the King of the Monsters himself for further examination?

Why is it that Godzilla, a franchise which is mostly known (by non-fans, generally) for its sloppy English dubbing, miniature sets, rubber-suited monsters, is so enduring?  In his book, Godzilla On My Mind, William M. Tsutsui proposed that Godzilla's appeal lies in numerous places.  It's fun.  It's big.  It's imaginative.  It's silly.  It's cool.  Some entries in the franchise are deep and thoughtful, others are cheesy.  Almost all are extremely entertaining.  I'd be lying if I said much of my love for Godzilla wasn't based heavily in the pure visceral joy of watching something big and powerful smash up other big and powerful things.  However, that said, I'd like to look at the Godzilla franchise though mildly more academic and analytical eyes.  Most (though certainly not all) of the Godzilla films have at least some layer to them beyond just being popcorn-action-fare, and in order to peel away much of the stigma and nostalgia that surround this franchise, I'm going to focus more (though again, not entirely) effort on discussion the merit of each film the way one might analyze or critique a piece of literature.  So, in order to do that, I'm going to start by talking about Godzilla as a character, and what he's all about.

Borrowing heavily from the Wikipedia article about the character, within the context of the films, Godzilla's exact origins vary, but he is generally depicted as an enormous, violent, prehistoric sea monster awakened and empowered by nuclear radiation.  His size is generally inconsistent, changing over the years for the sake of artistic license.  With the ability to swim and breath underwater, Godzilla is invulnerable to nearly all conventional (and most unconventional) weaponry, even being depicted in some version as having a mutant gene within his cells known as Regenerator G-1, which has given him not only an incredible healing-factor, but also ultimately imbued him with biological immortality.  His signature weapon is his "atomic breath," a nuclear blast that it generates inside of its body (usually in his dorsal spines) and unleashes from his jaws in the form of a blue or red radioactive heat ray.  In the original film, the character Dr. Yamane  says that Godzilla was a transitional form between a marine and a terrestrial reptile.  Godzilla's allegiance and motivations have changed from film to film to suit the needs of the story. Although Godzilla does not like humans, he will fight alongside humanity against common threats.  However, he makes no special effort to protect human life or property and will turn against its human allies on a whim.  He is not motivated to attack by predatory instinct; it doesn't eat people, and instead sustains himself on radiation and (again, generally) an omnivorous diet.  When inquired if Godzilla was "good or bad", producer Shogo Tomiyama likened it to a Shinto "God of Destruction" which lacks moral agency and cannot be held to human standards of good and evil. "He totally destroys everything and then there is a rebirth. Something new and fresh can begin."  The gender of the Godzilla character has been a subject of confusion, because in the original Japanese films, Godzilla and all the other monsters are referred to with gender-neutral pronouns such as "it", while in the international versions, Godzilla is explicitly described as a male, in spite of often being shown as having had offspring at some point or another.

Aside from understanding literally who/what Godzilla is, I think it's worth noting what the series as a whole is as well.  The Godzilla franchise largely chronicles Japan's and the entire world's ongoing struggle against the continual onslaught of monsters which have arisen since the advent of nuclear testing post-World War II.  Some films blame the fighting of humans or the creation of nuclear bombs on the phenomenon, while others blame Godzilla himself for ushering in the age of monsters.  Symbolically, many of the films deal very specifically with themes of man vs nature, and specifically either using nuclear experiments or pollution and war as the vehicle to do that.  As a whole, the franchise borrows heavily from a mishmash of genres, including horror, sci fi, adventure, drama, and comedy.  Ultimately what we get from such a weird melding of genres is a world in which magic, and science all sort of coexist with almost mundane ordinariness which culminates in a genre known by fans as the Kaiju genre - coming from the Japanese word for giant/strange monsters.  While it's easy for some, especially in the contemporary Western World, it seems, to blow off this bonkers pastiche of ideas as cheesy, or bad, it isn't entirely without merit.  In fact, arguably, these monsters couldn't function at their full potential without at least some of these elements.

Author H. P. Lovecraft once said, "The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain--a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space."

Howard Phillip Lovecraft is an American author who lived between 1890 and 1937.  An author of mainly horror stories, Lovecraft is considered one of the best and most influential writers of the 1900's.  His work has grown to massive popularity over the past century, and has not only influenced numerous other writers like Steven King, but has also provided the basis for plenty of icons in the horror genre such as the Necronomicon, a magical textbook filled with forbidden lore and incantations that is perhaps most popularly associated with the Evil Dead franchise which began in the 80's. Lovecraft very famously avoided telling the same old tales of ghosts and murders, instead favoring truly visceral terrors found largely in high concept art.  Perhaps most famously attributed to Lovecraft is his creation of the Cthulhu character - one of numerous imaginative giant monstrous beings which inhabit Lovecraft's work - and the subsequent mythos surrounding that which would appear in later stories not just penned by himself but by numerous other writers even up until today. His guiding philosophical principle was a distinct idea which he termed as "cosmicism" or "cosmic horror."   This idea, based on his own life experiences, is essentially that life is incomprehensible to human minds and that the universe is fundamentally inimical to the interests of humankind.  Taken from Wikipedia's article on the matter, "The philosophy of cosmicism states that there is no recognizable divine presence, such as a god, in the universe, and that humans are particularly insignificant in the larger scheme of intergalactic existence, and perhaps are just a small species projecting their own mental idolatries onto the vast cosmos, ever susceptible to being wiped from existence at any moment." This also suggested that the majority of undiscerning humanity are creatures with the same significance as insects and plants in a much greater struggle between greater forces which, due to humanity's small, visionless and unimportant nature, it does not recognize.  Perhaps the most prominent theme in cosmicism is the utter insignificance of humanity. Lovecraft believed that "the human race will disappear. Other races will appear and disappear in turn. The sky will become icy and void, pierced by the feeble light of half-dead stars. Which will also disappear. Everything will disappear. And what human beings do is just as free of sense as the free motion of elementary particles. Good, evil, morality, feelings? Pure 'Victorian fictions'. Only egotism exists."  Cosmicism shares many characteristics with nihilism, though one important difference is that cosmicism tends to emphasize the inconsequentiality of humanity and its doings, rather than summarily rejecting the possible existence of some higher purpose (or purposes). For example, in Lovecraft's Cthulhu stories, it is not so much the absence of meaning that causes terror for the protagonists as it is their discovery that they have absolutely no power to effect any change in the vast, indifferent, and ultimately incomprehensible universe that surrounds them. Whatever meaning or purpose may or may not be invested in the actions of the cosmic beings in Lovecraft's stories is completely inaccessible to the human characters, in the way an amoeba (for example) is completely unequipped to grasp the concepts that drive human behavior. Lovecraft's cosmicism was a result of his complete disdain for all things religious, his feeling of humanity's existential helplessness in the face of what he called the "infinite spaces" opened up by scientific thought, and his belief that humanity was fundamentally at the mercy of the vastness and emptiness of the cosmos."

Lovecraft also often dreamed up very unique beings to inhabit his stories.  Not so much the human characters though.  In fact, his stories featured very little human characterization, so as to bring further the point that in his world he believed humans were inconsequential.  But as far as the non-human element, he imagined horrible creatures the likes of which have often not appeared in literature before or since.  As stated before, the most famous of these monsters would undoubtedly be Cthulhu.  Cthulhu (pronounced as "Kuh-thoo-loo") first appeared in the 1928 story "The Call of Cthulhu", where Lovecraft describes him as "A monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with an octopus-like head whose face was a mass of feelers, a scaly, rubbery-looking body, prodigious claws on hind and fore feet, and long, narrow wings behind."  Sleeping for centuries in the depth of the seas, Cthulhu has been described as a mix between a giant human, an octopus, and a dragon, and is depicted as being hundreds of meters tall, with human-looking arms and legs and a pair of rudimentary wings on its back. Cthulhu's head is depicted as similar to the entirety of a giant octopus, with an unknown number of tentacles surrounding its supposed mouth.  What's more, he is one of numerous other ancient giant beings, The Old Ones, who all appear different and varied from all over the universe.  There are smaller monsters too, equally as wild and terrifying.

So where is this all going?  Aside from providing an entire pantheon of giant monster mythology to the genre, Lovecraft's work also bears a striking resemblance (though appearing much earlier) to the Kaiju genre.  The wild creature designs.  Humanity's hopelessness at the mercy of monsters all operating on their own agendas.  Science being pushed too far.  Civilization on the brink of destruction.  Lack of human characterization in favor of the grander story.  And one can't help but take a second glance at the description of the central figure of Cthulhu as "a scaly, rubbery-looking body."  Could anything describe Godzilla and his cohort of monsters any better?  They all sleep for eons in the depths of the ocean- just like Godzilla monsters.  And some are even worshiped by occult groups, like Godzilla's contemporaries, Megalon, Mothra, or Kong, which is also very much in line with Cthulhu who is worshiped by numerous cults the world over.  Were the directors of Kaiju Eiga influenced by the works of Lovecraft?  It's hard to say.  And it's hard to say how many other people were people might have been influenced by him as well, such as writers like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (The Lost World) or Edgar Rice Burroughs (Princess of Mars, The Land that Time Forgot) or film makers like Ray Harryhausen (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms) who we know did lead to influencing directors like Ishiro Honda (Godzilla).   But one can't ignore the obvious similarities.  So now that we've established the bizarre but possibly brilliant logic and philosophy behind the world in which Godzilla operates, let's return to the earlier concept of a monster being a naturally-occuring categorical error, and discover what that means about Godzilla specifically.  Why would mankind invent the concept of monstrosity - the notion of deliberate errors in nature?  We live in a place that seems to have both good and bad in it regardless of our cultural values.  Far more interesting and perhaps unsettling is the fact that the good and bad not only coexist in the outside world, but within ourselves as well.  It's easy to look at a serial killer and call him a "monster" as a way to make us all feel better about ourselves and our "cultural civilization," or as a way to distance the killer from our own category.  But the fact is, deep down we all sometimes have dark ambitions.  Maybe not extreme ones, but to some degree they are there.  Just like they are within the "monster."

Thus, monsters are abject beings we fear, hate, and even sometimes sympathize with, empathize with, love and possibly envy.  They are the penultimate example of the sublime.  Something that leaves us in awe, fascinated, and inspired, but simultaneously fearful and even respectful.  They are both humbling and inspiring.  They destroy our people, but at the same time, they lift us up.  Why are monsters so enduring?  The simple answer: because we, as a collective people, simply love them.  For all their bad behavior and utter nastiness, we relate to them, we connect to them, we learn from them, and we empathize with them.  We, like them, woke up in this crazy confusing world against our will (for all we can remember) and as we, like them, are trying to figure everything out, we often get frustrated.  We feel alone.  We feel spiteful and angry.  And we often feel like smashing a building or hiding in the depths of the ocean.  We often feel like obliterating the pesky obstacles in our life, sometimes because they irritate us and other times just simply because we want to.

An amazing example of this was laid out in little more than 300 words by author Maurice Sendak in his award-winning masterpiece, Where the Wild Things Are.  While there is plenty to talk about in this seminal work (it is probably my favorite book) I'm going to only touch on a few things.  In the story, a young boy named Max dresses up in a wolf costume, and wreaks havoc throughout his household.  His mother calls him a "Wild Thing" and he is disciplined by being sent to his bedroom. As he feels antagonized by his mother, Max's bedroom undergoes a mysterious transformation into a jungle environment, and he winds up sailing to an island inhabited by malicious, giant beasts known as the "Wild Things." The monsters immediately intend to eat him, but after successfully intimidating the creatures, Max is hailed as the king of the Wild Things.  However, after romping around with them on the island for a time in what the book describes as a "wild rumpus," he decides to return home. The Wild Things are angry and hurt by his decision, and become fierce again as he leaves. After arriving in his bedroom, Max discovers a hot supper waiting for him.  Author Francis Spufford has said that Where the Wild Things Are is "one of the very few picture books to make an entirely deliberate and beautiful use of the psychoanalytic story of anger."  On top of that, Time Magazine said, "that what makes Sendak's book so compelling is its grounding effect: Max has a tantrum and in a flight of fancy visits his wild side, but he is pulled back by a belief in parental love to a supper 'still hot,' balancing the seesaw of fear and comfort."  Essentially Max, like so many of us, is figuring out his place in the world.  He is dealing with feelings of boredom, fear, frustration, jealousy, rage, sadness and loneliness.  And he is expected to come to grips with the realities of life and form a functioning way in which to live amongst the rest of his kind.  In a way, this parallels the Wild Things on the Island.  He relates to that, but only for a time.  He eventually calms down, and goes home, leaving the monsters behind.  They can't leave.  They can't quell their rage and unruliness.  They cannot suppress their wild tendencies. Like Max, we all relate to this at times.  We all feel like Wild Things occasionally.  We feel outcast, abject, and upset.  We want to smash trees or buildings and gobble our problems up.  We feel for the monsters, because we are them.  We are both Wild Things and Tame Things at differing times in life, and monsters provide a visceral, wordless, and purely emotional way for us to reconcile that. We are both antagonizers and victims.  Both outcast and alone, and welcome and happy.  We are both Doctor Frankenstein and his Monster.  Both Jekyll and Hyde.  Both King Kong and Anne Darrow.  Both Mr. Hammond and the creatures of his Jurassic Park.  Both helpless soldiers and Godzilla.  I think we love monsters and loath monsters so much simultaneously, because they are us- both who we are and who we want to be.  That is why they endure.

Ishiro Honda, the director of the original Godzilla film and a good chunk of its sequels once stated, "Monsters are tragic beings. They are born too tall, too strong, too heavy. They are not evil by choice. That is their tragedy.  They do not attack people because they want to, but because of their size and strength, mankind has no other choice but to defend himself. After several stories such as this, people end up having a kind of affection for the monsters. They end up caring about them."

I think monsters are the Great Reconcilers. When we divide everything in our natural world into sensible, logical, and perhaps even ethical categories, whatever excess is left without fitting somewhere neatly becomes what we call "Monsters." The category allows for reconciliation between what we can make total sense of and what we cannot.  In this manner they almost level the playing field of how we see our world, and in their viciousness we are made secure in a sense of understanding.  It is a visceral, completely intuitive, universally understood, unspoken language. Or at least, it is sort-of understood. This pseudo-understanding is the breeding ground for monsters.  For example, from 1978 to 1991 there was a serial killer at large named Jeffery Dahmer.  This man dismembered, raped, and even ate his victims.  When finally caught, people wanted to know why he had done what he did.  They wanted to understand.  How could he do this?  Why would he eat his victims?  What could possess a man to do this?  Obviously, he could have explained his motives and his entire process of thought.  But even if he did, laid out in perfectly clear English, no rational person could probably ever say they totally understood it because chances are, the average person doesn't feel or think things similar to what he did, especially not to the point of acting on them.  So what do they do about this?  He is a man, with semi-understood motives.  But he is behaving in a way that escapes our total and absolute grasp of understanding.  Where does this man fit?  It's not massive leap of logic to conclude that he was labeled as "a monster."  Distanced from the rest of his kind, but still treated as a sentient being, calling him a monster somehow seems to subconsciously help us reconcile whatever we don't understand.  It becomes sanitized in a way that we can categorize and file away in the narrative we have made up for ourselves and how the world works.

This can also be used to take a fear and turn it into something a little less real, to help us cope with it.  Using Mr. Dahmer as an example yet again, calling him a monster makes him no longer seem like a normal or average member of society.  It's not like he was just anyone.  He was something extraordinary.  An anomaly. An abnormality.  And as such, we feel safer.  It's not as if our next door neighbor could suddenly decide to kill and eat us.  Monsters are more "out there" and less "in our own neighborhood." It reconciles the fear to help us cope.  It gives us a healthy helping of fear, but keeps us from mass hysterics, and in a way, this built in suppressant of fear that monsters have help us often really end up loving them and seeing a bit of them in ourselves time and time again. Saint Augustine said as much by stating that he did not see the monster as inherently evil, but as part of the natural design of the world as a kind-of deliberate category error. They are, by nature, equal parts natural and unnatural. But that's not, as mentioned numerous times above, the only differences they reconcile.  Giant monsters in the movies often differ from more traditional antagonists in that many exist due to circumstances beyond their control; their actions not entirely based on choice, potentially making them objects of empathy to film viewers.  Intuitively, we come to understand the monster.  By nature, it ends up not only straddling the line between protagonist and antagonist, but it reconciles the difference in a way we understand and totally accept. And, in a way, it helps us cope with not only the actions of the monster on screen, but also with the real life monstrosities we face day to day.

Let's look no further than to the king of the monsters himself, Godzilla. Birthed of radioactivity, Godzilla awakens and begins rampaging through cities in a merciless onslaught that we, the audience, simply take delight in. Sure, we want it to end.  We want the human protagonists to beat the monster. But in the end, we watched the film because we are purely elated to see its antagonist- making the monster both the film's villain, as well as the hero.  A dark affinity that makes everything seem ok.In his essay entitled Godzilla: Poetry after the A-Bomb, J Hoberman discusses many of the ways Godzilla reconciled ambiguities in relation to his debut film's success."Godzilla was a way to imaginatively portray—and even exorcise—not just the atomic attack but also World War II in general, and to assuage more contemporary nuclear fears. As noted by Japanese film critic Toyomasa Kobayashi, recent anxieties were a factor in the movie’s appeal: “For people finally experiencing economic recovery after a war that decimated the country to burnt land, the spectacle of Gojira’s urban destruction was exceedingly realistic. Without doubt, this was one of its major charms.” Like King Kong, Moby Dick, or the shark in Jaws, Godzilla is a nexus of threats and associations. The monster is clearly the objectification of nuclear war, but just as the epidemic in Camus’ The Plague is not simply the German occupation of France, it’s also something more. Godzilla has been called the greatest star the Japanese movie industry ever produced, with a star’s magical ability to reconcile contradictions. Combining the Japanese term for whale (kujira) with the English loanword gorira (gorilla), the name Gojira has a subtly foreign flavor—and is written with the characters the Japanese use for loanwords. The cultural anthropologist Anne Allison refers to Godzilla in psychoanalytic terms, as a symptom. The monster may initially appear as an “alien element,” but it is ultimately experienced as intrinsic to Japan’s national identity—specifically, Japan’s new national identity. The bomb triggers Godzilla’s aggression, transforming an innocent Jurassic creature into a force of primeval destruction. Godzilla resolves the past with the future, the Japanese with the foreign, the aggressor with the victim. The destructive impulses that brought the Pacific War and the bombing of Japan are externalized and then reembraced as evidence of Japan’s martyrdom. Some thought Godzilla the vengeful ghost of martyred dead soldiers. The mutant Godzilla is the object of atomophobia; the similarly radiation-scarred Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), Godzilla’s unwilling nemesis, is the subject of atomophobia, suffering from it. Serizawa equates his “oxygen destroyer” with the H-bomb and is persuaded to use it—against the H-bomb, as it were—only by a television spectacle of schoolgirls singing a peace hymn. As this music is reprised in Godzilla’s last moments, it associates the monster with its human victims. Both destroyer and victim, the monster inspires terror and empathy—perhaps even admiration. In subsequent movies, Godzilla becomes a beloved savior and ultimately a mascot. Plush stuffed Godzillas are a staple of Japanese toy stores. The monster mutates into a teddy bear—but perhaps it always was. Eiji Tsuburaya’s special effects, which consumed one-third of the movie’s budget, involved actors in latex costumes trampling a miniature city. American kids may have found this “suitamation” ridiculous—even as they loved it—but Japanese audiences responded differently. In part because real people were used, the monster became sympathetic, even poignant. Godzilla’s movements and destructive nature were, as one contemporary reviewer put it, “strangely humanlike.” Thus, Godzilla transformed the trauma of the war into fun—or art. Ultimately, Honda’s movie belongs with Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour (1959), Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove (1964), and Bruce Conner’s Crossroads (1976) as a daring attempt to fashion a terrible poetry from the mind-melting horror of atomic warfare."

I said earlier that the language of monsters is entirely intuitive and often unspoken. Characters like Godzilla never speak dialogue (well... with a few weird exceptions which will be discussed in a later post), and indeed his facial expressions are generally entirely stoic. Yet, by his "monster nature," we find him completely visceral and understand him often better than his human co-stars. We understand when he's mad, sad, frustrated, tired, scared, hurting, and so on. We don't even flinch at his behavior even though his motives are almost never explained written or vocally. While watching all of the Godzilla films consecutively, Witney Seibold of CraveOnline's The Series Project actually noted this unspoken - almost subconscious - language of monsters several times throughout his articles.  He states, "The pleasures offered by guys in monsters suits wailing on one another atop a miniature Toho set cannot be described in words. It can only be experienced. I will use this word to describe how this series has been making me feel: Bliss. Godzilla movies are a blissful experience. They are cheap and dumb and outrageous and childish… and yet possess a kind of dreamy, childlike inner logic that we all inherently understand. Indeed, this monster logic makes far more sense than any other kind of straightforward logic. Monsters exist. We all know this. When they get together, they fight. We know also.  Godzilla, [deep down,] is really a good guy.   We know this too. Child science is way more accurate than the real kind."

But perhaps even more interestingly and on point was an insight he had while watching 2004's Godzilla Final Wars. He asks,"Why does Godzilla want to destroy cities? It's been an impulse of his in most of the films: He rises up from the sea after a hibernation, and heads to shore to stomp around on the people below. Watching so many Godzilla films, you begin to take this fact for granted. Godzilla will rise, and he will destroy. It's just in his nature. But what is driving him to shore? Over the course of the series, several excuses have been given. He's attracted to light. He's drawn to nuclear power plants. Japan is merely his homeland, and the cities are just getting in the way of an otherwise gentle stroll. In a few of the films, he doesn't want to destroy anything, but protect Japan from other giant monsters who would do the nation harm. In Godzilla Final Wars, the last film in the saga (at least until the next film comes out in 2014), an explanation to Godzilla's actual emotional motivation is given. It turns out he's mad at humanity for making so many weapons. He is himself a symbol of the atomic bomb, having been created by a nuclear blast; He is the living manifestation of humanity's unfortunate drive to kill itself. So when Godzilla wakes up, he's grumpy at us. For fifty straight years, he was mad. You wanna make a weapon? Godzilla will show you weapon! In a way, Godzilla is the ultimate pacifist. He is the intellectual “war that ends all wars.” Godzilla may long for the feeling of a building crumbling pleasantly beneath his flat wrathful foot, but what he really wants is peace. The destructive monster that aches for peace. I like that."

I propose that we all like that on some level, too. And we like it because not only does the monster inside of us completely understand, but because it reconciles the difference left behind by what the human in us perhaps does not. As stated in a famously cheesy but strikingly poignant line of dialogue from Tristar's distribution of Godzilla 2000, "Perhaps there's a little bit of Godzilla inside us all."

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