I’m Thankful for Godzilla

IMG_0692I’m a writer, and my goal is to publish fiction, and this blog is (mostly) about my journey toward that goal. To that end, I plan to post a short story in this space, in three parts, starting next week.

That first sentence – “I’m a writer, and my goal is to publish fiction, and this blog is (mostly) about my journey toward that goal” – sums up my “personal brand,” such as it exists right now. I’m not a journalist, I don’t want to report on all the horrible things happening in the world every day. But that doesn’t mean I am without compassion for the people suffering from the horrible things happening in the world, every day.

I struggled a bit last week when I made my post – will people think, since I’m not showing any outward display of support for the victims of the Paris attacks, and haven’t commented at all about them, that I don’t care? Is it insensitive to post my little reflection on driving with all that’s going on in the world?

In the end, I proceeded anyway, because “I’m a writer, and my goal is to publish fiction. . .etc.” After I posted, I read this article from Jina Moore, which I think does a brilliant job of addressing media coverage, social media reaction, and what any one person can do to make a difference. Thank you, Tamara, for sharing it.

So, with that being said, and with Thanksgiving being tomorrow, why don’t I tell you why I’m thankful for Godzilla?

I’ve loved Godzilla, pretty much my whole life through. I was frightened of everything as a kid – ghosts, demons, aliens, St. Angela Merici’s principal. My parents wouldn’t let me see Star Wars, because they thought the cantina scene would scare me (there were a lot of aliens). Luckily, I had sold them on my intestinal fortitude by the time The Empire Strikes Back was released.

But Godzilla never scared me. He never felt like a monster. Godzilla, and Gamera, and Mothra, were all more like wild animals. Kaiju – mythical, fantastic, wild animals. It was like watching Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, if it was done with dramatic re-enactments of make-believe animals. With a lot more collateral damage.

I’m a sucker for the old Toho Godzilla movies. Of all the kaiju, he is king. Or she is queen. A lot of it is Godzilla’s roar. You can’t have a movie, put Godzilla in the title, and not have that two-note, high-pitched honk followed by all that phenomenal reverb. The internet tells me Godzilla’s original 1954 roar was created by dragging a pine-tar coated leather glove across a double bass.

I remember weekends watching those movies on TV, usually with my older brother David. I just saw David this past weekend, and in his recollection, Godzilla and other monster movies would usually play during the “Sunday Morning Movie,” while Saturday morning was “Kung Fu Theater.” (My appreciation for the movies that came out of Hong Kong in the 1970s is a post for another time.)

So there’s one reason I’m thankful for Godzilla. Godzilla, and Jonny Quest, and The Six Million Dollar Man – they were all shared enjoyments with my brothers and sisters. I would later come to discover the solitary joy of reading a good book. But from my earliest memory, I remember sitting down with people I loved and trusted, and connecting through the cathode ray tube-induced magic we watched.

Godzilla still has a resonance for me, while the television shows have faded. The director Guillermo del Toro, whose love of Godzilla and kaiju in general is fairly well-documented, brought the mythos to newly realized life in the awesome Pacific Rim. I recently read an article from a few years back, where he talked about the appeal of the primal spectacle of monster movies. And also Godzilla’s connection to the coping and healing of a national psyche in the aftermath of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That connection is something I didn’t comprehend until I was older, of course. And it only deepened my appreciation for the great green lizard.

I need reminders at my sad Picard job
I need reminders at my sad Picard job

So there’s another reason. The power of story. The best fiction taps into our deepest fears, and deepest yearnings, and holds them out to the light. And light allows for growth, and getting past the things that limit us. Very few things limit Godzilla. When I’m feeling weak and powerless, I like to think of Godzilla, and try to tap my inner kaiju.

And finally, I’m thankful that Godzilla reminds me of what it was like to be a child. When Godzilla came out in 2014, I might have actually had a countdown to the movie’s release. I could tell from the trailer that they got the roar right, so I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. And I wasn’t. I dragged husband Tim to see it opening night, I saw it at least one other time, and now own the Blu-ray. Godzilla was the good guy, which is the way I like it to be. I still get excited, thinking about how excited I was to see the movie.

I feel similarly about Star Wars: The Force Awakens, but I know I’m hardly the only one. I kind of like that I was the only person I knew who was so excited about Godzilla.

Godzilla shows me that it’s okay to be unique, and reminds me to not be scared of my own roar. And, through my enduring affection for the giant, fearsome, creature, I learned to not to fear the fantastic. For which I am truly thankful.

But, to be entirely truthful, aliens (the ones from outer space – the abducting kind) still scare me a little.

One thought on “I’m Thankful for Godzilla

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