Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Enduring Career of Godzilla

A monster becomes a monster when it transcends the categorizing constraints of binomial nomenclature. When creating a monster, it’s very important to keep this in mind if you want to avoid the kind of political controversy that can ruin a monster’s career.

Because monsters are villains and if a villain can be even remotely identified as being a symbol of any specific genus and/or species, sooner or later some group of noble humans will rise up to defend reputation of that genus and/or species or subcategory within. They will say this genus and/or species or subcategory within is being unfairly demonized because they bear a resemblance the villain. These noble humans will picket and boycott and demonize the demon for being a demonizer.

This is why Godzilla’s career endures. Godzilla is the perfect timeless monster/villain. No one can accuse it of being a maligning stereotype of any living thing because what the hell is it? It’s this lizardish thing. You can’t even tell if it’s a boy or a girl. It can’t be a boy because if it was a boy it would have a wanger about 20 feet long, swinging to and fro with enough force to demolish the Chrysler Building. What a way to go that would be, eh? You’re looking out of your office window in the Chrysler Building and there’s Godzilla’s 20-foot wanger coming straight at you like a wrecking ball.

Godzilla doesn’t have a vagina either. And that’s a shrewd move because if it did have a vagina it would be picketed and boycotted for insinuating that females are demons. So a timeless monster /villain also must have no genitalia or any sexually identifying characteristics. It must be a genderless “it” like Godzilla.

A timeless monster/villain must display no identifying racial or ethnic characteristics either. Godzilla also passes this test. It does not look Jewish or Asian or Anglo or anything other than lizardish.

So thank God for Godzilla. Because humans need monsters/villains. Monsters/villains provide a very therapeutic, tension-relieving service for humans. They give us something to blame. They make evil concrete. And because Godzilla is so uncategorizable, it can be whatever giant threat to civilization the paying customer privately fantasizes it to be. It can be a giant evil republican or a giant evil drag queen or a giant evil Hillary or a giant evil chronically unemployed welfare mooch driving around in a Mercedes. It can even be a giant cripple, although a giant cripple wouldn’t have to stomp a metropolis into kindling in order to instill terror into ordinary citizens. Fear of cripples is more of an existential fear. Cripples don’t have to do anything to scare people. We just have to be. We are symbols of vulnerability and nothing sends chills through the ordinary citizens more than that. So a giant cripple would only have to sit there looming on the horizon, an ever-present buzzkill blotting out the sun. This would be provocation enough for NATO to nuke the giant cripple.

And in the end, when Godzilla is vanquished, every paying customer of every political or sexual or ethnic persuasion can stand and cheer side by side because whatever evil they perceive Godzilla to be has also been vanquished! But deep in our hearts we know it’s not the end. We know there will surely be a remake.

Someday soon though somebody may picket and boycott Godzilla. Because Godzilla is decidedly reptilian. And there are lots of people who think reptiles get a lot of undeserved shitty press. They say snakes are so smart that they can do calculus and shit. They say iguanas are so kind and gentle they can babysit your kids. So then Godzilla will receive a radical makeover to the point where it will lose all its meaning.

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