…Because Giant Monsters Make Everything Better

After an absence of a few weeks, I have returned!  Be sure to check out all the apologies and other exciting things I posted earlier today.  To come back with a bang, here’s a short piece I wrote on the history, influence, and significance of Godzilla!  Enjoy!

Godzilla, the giant lizard-monster famous for terrorizing Japan, has survived in media for over 50 years and continues to be an icon of Japanese culture.  Since Godzilla’s not-so-humble beginning in the 1954 film “Gojira” (the Japanese name for Godzilla), the monster has been in movies set in several countries––each time used to allegorically showcase their fears.  Today Godzilla (and other giant monsters that spawned from the original’s success such as Mothra, Rodan, and King Ghidorah) is known worldwide, but the spirit of Godzilla and the monster genre it created remain purely Japanese.
The behemoth originally represented the threat of nuclear war in the wake of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The United States swiftly created a Godzilla film of its own, disregarding the original plot, but nonetheless Godzilla became popular in America.  Godzilla’s American popularity continued as other monsters swept through Japanese cinema: Movies like “King Kong vs Godzilla,” “Mothra vs Godzilla,” and “Godzilla vs the Thing” introduced new monsters that turned Godzilla into somewhat of a hero.  Instead of being a metaphor for Japanese fears, the monster itself began defending the nation from terrorists, pollution, invading aliens, and their giant monster representations.  To the observer, the change of Godzilla’s role in the movies shows that it had been completely absorbed and became a true icon.
As much as Americans ate up the Godzilla franchise, the concept is completely Japanese.  Japan produced something successful because everyone could relate to it.  In 1954 the threat of nuclear war was very real for Japan, and other countries had fears of their own.  Whether it’s demolishing the Tokyo Tower or crushing waves of U.S. troops, Godzilla is the embodiment of fear on a national level.  Japan’s interpretation of that fear gave the nation massive amounts of soft power as Godzilla infiltrated the movie theaters around the world.  The influence the monster had––its movies, action figures, collectables––was so immense that the original film spawned more than 20 sequels, companions, and spin-offs.  Though Godzilla may have lost its original metaphor for nuclear war, it exists today as a slate to which any fear could be applied, and an international icon that preserves an important piece of Japanese history.

Advertisements

I’m Not Dead — I Promise!

Hello all,

I know I missed a posting week…I’m going to make it up! Things have just been a little crazy lately, so I haven’t even had a chance to schedule any posts for later dates. I know what my next few posts are going to be, it’s just a matter of finishing/starting them.

While I’m at it I might as well give a quick update–It’s a little late to announce this, but I did change the blog’s theme from “Pilcrow” to “Elegant Grunge.” It was a style choice, really, I just wanted a change. Also, I added a blogroll! Hooray! (You don’t want to know how long it took me to figure out how to use Links. Ugh.) If there’s anything you don’t like about the theme or layout changes, or you’d like to suggest something, just let me know!

I’d feel bad if I didn’t give you guys a little something with this otherwise hasty and unusual post, so…


BAM. I had no idea the Internet was so full of deals on monkeys 😉

~Ciao

Struggling with Equality

Here’s something you may already know if you have some knowledge in the social sciences:  Certain criteria must be met for a society to be considered “civilized.”

Government, a given, is required to keep social order.  Some argue that a religion is also necessary to explain the way of the world, but it isn’t required.  A system of writing for recording things such as government records, historical events, diaries, and works of fiction is crucial.  Fiction ties into the next one, the need for arts and architecture.  A society’s art and architecture express its values in a creative way, and reveal what the society thinks is beautiful and strong.

There are several other less obvious characteristics of civilization, but the one that strikes me as the most important (and somewhat disturbing) is the necessity of social classes.  Today in America there are distinct classes–upper, middle, and lower, based on income.  It’s a bell-curve, with most of the population falling somewhere in the middle.  Classes don’t have to be based on money; in older societies class was determined by social status, which was determined by one’s job.  Government officials were at the top, followed by artisans, merchants, peasants, farmers, and slaves.

Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)
Image via Wikipedia

Conceptually, social classes can be broken down into two realms: those with power and those without it.  The government will

always be on top.  The other social classes organize themselves according to a society’s values and ideologies.  This shows that in order to be “civilized,” a society needs to allow itself to be ruled.  This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it means that ideas of equality from great thinkers such as Karl Marx might be pure idealism.

So, government is necessary for structure, and inequality is necessary for stability.  I’m totally not against government, but as a person with liberal beliefs it saddens me to think that some people will always be socially “better” than others.  I do believe that no person is really “better” than anyone else.  Because of this, I sometimes become skeptical of those who are in positions of power.

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” – John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton

This is why I believe in democracy.  No one is better than anyone else, so no one person should have absolute power over everyone else.  Even though social differences exist in democracy, it allows everyone’s voice to be heard.  I’m not trying to preach about government…but given that a completely equal state may be impossible, a political system that involves all people the best it can is the best bet.  We are equal, yet we must be unequal.  Chew on that…

What is Gender?

Recently, I took my final exams for the semester.  Because of exams, I got to leave school earlier than usual.  I went home, ate lunch, and walked back to school for track practice.  I had rehearsal for a play afterward, so I brought along a bag for my shoes, water bottle, script, and other miscellaneous items. It wasn’t a sling bag or backpack, but a special “tote”-type bag some friends brought back for me from their trip to Boston.  Some kids I encountered on the way to school decided to laugh at the bag because it looked really feminine.  That got my gears turning…

Gender isn't an exact science.

I am male.  I was born male, and will always be male.  But what does being male really mean?  The first things that come to my mind are physical traits: longer limbs, broader shoulders, a deeper voice, and all that.  With some further thought I realized that besides physical traits, the only things people use to distinguish between male and female are materialistic.  Makeup is for girls.  Baseball caps are for boys.  Statements like those aren’t only false, they’re judgmental and limiting.  Some girls totally rock the baseball look, and many boys have discovered they like the way they look with a bit of makeup.  Society has drawn a borderline separating the sexes, a line that neither gender is “supposed” to cross.  Why not?  People are judged by society-generated stereotypes and are told how to be a man or how to be a lady.  It’s not natural.  Doctors don’t tell the sex of a baby based on whether it pops out of the womb wearing a skirt or a jockstrap.

I don’t see why it’s bad for someone to express bits of both masculinity and femininity.  I’m am definitely not transgendered; I am perfectly comfortable being male.  I do, however, have a feminine side that I am equally comfortable expressing.  I just cannot wrap my head around why that’s such a problem.  I’ve observed that people are even harder on boys (that might be because I am a boy…what do you think about this, girls?) when it comes to stepping over the gender line.  Boys seem to do it less, so when one does it’s seen as a huge deal.  It really shouldn’t be.  If you ask me, it’s worse when one chooses not to express oneself out of fear than when one does so in a “controversial” way.

In my eyes gender is a physical thing.  I don’t think stupid things like makeup, clothes, mannerisms, and tastes can force the soul into a gender mold.  People may try, but it’s wasted effort.  Expressing yourself in ways more commonly associated with the opposite sex doesn’t make you homosexual, transgendered, or weird, it makes you a multifaceted, true-to-yourself person.  Be yourself.

Does Everything Happen for a Reason?

This is a complicated question, spanning across the areas of philosophy and spirituality.  Do I believe in fate?  No.  I think every person has free will and the right to use it; I feel that fate is for people waiting for something to be handed to them.  I do, however, think that people “belong” in certain places or professions, or at least gravitate towards something naturally.  Some might call that destiny.  I don’t think so.  While people may feel they are destined to do/be something, it may not turn out that way.  Even if it does, a person blazes his or her own trail to get there.  It’s not destiny, it’s giving in to your true wants that you may not even be conscious of.  Deep down, I believe instinct, the id, eventually finds a way of leading us where we need to be.

So what about those trails we’re blazing?  Do the individual events that occur on our journey to our ultimate wants and dreams happen for reasons?  From a spiritual perspective, I say maybe.  I think it’s up to us to find meaning in our day to day experiences and interpret it.  It’s more about learning from mistakes and making the decision to move forward than decoding petty occurrences.

While on the subject of spirituality, I’d like to state that I do believe in some sort of higher power.  Whether you want to call it “God” or not, I believe it’s there.  I also believe that this higher power is innately good.  The question is, does this power completely dominate our lives?  As a believer in free will, I’m going to say no.  I think we’re free to live our lives the way we please, chase our dreams, and do what we want.  I believe this power is present in our lives, but not domineering.

I know from my personal experience that I have had moments that felt so right, that made me feel like I was supposed to be where I was doing what I was doing.  It’s not happiness; it’s bliss.  This feeling, at least for me, starts a chain reaction of appreciation for what I have, who I know, what I can do, etc.

Is it happening for a reason?  Perhaps.  We go through life freely, but occasionally someone might intercede.  Interpret life the way you want.  In the end, whatever makes you the most happy is the right choice.  Things might not happen for specific reasons, but I think people “happen” for reasons.  We are supposed to be here.