Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Monday, May 27, 2013

I don't see why people think Godzilla is funny.

We think we're so woebegone with our hurricane disasters and our terrorist threat levels - for Christ's sake, we need to grow up and count our lucky stars. The initial Godzilla event in 1954 claimed over 100,000 lives in Tokyo, and left more than a million homeless.

What we've had to deal with in terms of disasters is laughable on that scale. The fact that subsequent Godzilla events have proved far less catastrophic in terms of human loss is a tribute to the Japanese people's response to horror: stoic resolve, and a grim determination to be better prepared next time. Despite the apparent destruction of the beast, Japan's top scientists and military leaders immediately went to work creating and implementing a nationwide defense and emergency civilian drill program that has become the model for daikaiju preparedness the world over. Why, even our household term for "giant monster" is taken from the Japanese - just as we've all stopped calling tsunami "tidal waves," and implemented Japanese methods to lessen that threat.

The Japanese know disaster preparedness. They've had to know it. And all the world over, forward-thinking cities have aped that proven Japanese model, and been rewarded for their foresight. When Reptilicus struck Copenhagen in 1961, use of coordinated fleeing methods on the Japanese model resulted in casualties in the low dozens - despite the extent of the monster's rampage. In fact, Danish citizens were so well-drilled that footage of the event shows many of them clearly laughing, as they run from the city en masse!

If I have to fault the Japanese for anything, it's their optimism. Much of Tokyo was leveled in '54. The Japanese responded by clearing the ruins and using that space to plan and build the heart of modern, sky-scraping Tokyo, as we know it today from such films as the one where Bill Murray pervs on a 17-year old. But shockingly, the Japanese appear to be willing to believe that Godzilla's personality is subject to a similar rehabilitation. After a series of diakaiju attacks in the 1970s, where Godzilla's sudden appearance arguably lessened the devastation that would have been wrought by another rampaging monster, many of today's Japanese regard Godzilla rather supersitiously as some sort of hero or protector.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Godzilla is an amoral, vicious, destruction-loving force of murderous wrath. It's just that Godzilla is also a territorial beast. If a big enough target strays into view, Godzilla will wreck its day for us. That doesn't mean we should delude ourselves Godzilla is on our side. Time and again, Godzilla has shown that if no Godzilla-sized-threat is available for fun and games, the defenseless cities of Japan are a more-than-agreeable substitute.

The bottom line is this. Godzilla is no hero. We don't need him to be. Any sensible observer would be forced to conclude that we'd be better off without the seemingly-invincible threat Godzilla presents, and just find ways deal with such invariably-lesser threats as occur.

Every time I drive South along the Pacific Coast Highway, I sense a flash, an uncomfortable phantom presence, looming out on the Pacific horizon. A lumpen, towering blot, emerging ever higher from the waves, splashing in slow, unstoppable strides towards the coast with a bored, implacably surly glare. I turn my head with stopped heart, but it will only be - some low, sea hugging cloud. A mirage.

Thank God.

I cringe at what the result would be, if Godzilla decided to forsake the long-suffering Japanese archipelago and turn his attention to our unprotected, unprepared, jaded and blasé West Coast. Thank God the New York event in '98 proved to be a false alarm - some fucking dinosaur or something. Vulnerable to conventional air-to-ground missiles! Ha!

Godzilla is impervious to all modern weaponry. Nuke him, and he'll only grow bigger and fouler-tempered. I assure you: we would not think Godzilla is so funny on our shores, as our cities lie in ruins, with casualties running into the millions, loved ones missing...! This freak of nature and radiation is a walking atrocity on a global scale. We can only praise and thank Japan, for the grace and stoicism with which she has dealt with this plague of chronic devastation. We do little enough to help Japan in her struggle. The least we could do is cop a proper attitude.

Godzilla: fuck you.

You are an abomination.

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