Gojira, an Understanding

When I first realised I would have to do this subject on Digital Asia, I must admit I was wary and disappointed. I am not really one to watch anime, or read manga, or really I’ve never been interested in it at all. I was again surprised that the first movie we were to watch would be Godzilla. I’ve never watch the original, although I have watched the latest one (Gareth Edwards, 2014), and the one where the bad hair over took the story line (Roland Emmerich, 1998). This subject is heavy on the autoethonography methodology, and it is necessary for me to relate back to the subject matter in a way that explores my own connection and contextual understanding of it. My cultural background is limited, at best. I have no real understanding of Asian media, other than the cartoons dubbed for Cheese TV back in the ’90s-00’s.

The way I have watched, understood and disassemble the movie Gojira from 1954 is through the discussion in class about the contextual and historical location Godzilla has in the film world. I never really put much thought into the big lizard, and through the discussions over twitter and in class I have learnt a lot more about where it stands as a movie.

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The movie came out at a time where Japan had lost its sense of self; the Japanese culture had lost a part of its identity due to the clashes with the West. Not so subtle inferences to Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the fall out of nuclear war are echoed throughout this movie. Godzilla himself, with his nuclear breath, is the metaphor for a time where the possibility of being wiped off the map, was a reality some thought would happen. The sentiment of antiwar and anti-nuclear weapons was a powerful message to be sending out in a post-war Japan. Godzilla was symbol and exploration of the people’s fears, encased in a rubber suit.  To my understanding, Godzilla was a call for the end of this type of destruction. Godzilla speaks louder than roars, as even in modern times, the monster can be the symbol for whichever man-made disaster is occurring at the time.  Global Warming, war, nuclear power – all of these topics are easily interchangeable as a new Gojira.

My understanding of the context and importance this film has all stems from discussions in class and a larger memory of history than I thought I had. The subject matter is much richer than just a monster in a rubber suit. It is a movie that speaks up about what an entire country felt at the time and that is powerful.

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4 comments

  1. I very much understand your initial apprehension about taking this subject. My understanding of asian culture or media was limited and I did not know how I would be able to engage with the subject. I also found my foothold in the class discussions and in my blog for this week discussed the ways in which through references like history, we are able to engage with another culture even if everything about the culture seems foreign. I’m excited for our journey into the world of digital Asia as newbies!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your research on the film is very enlightening. I never knew that there was a deeper meaning to the notorious Godzilla. Something that is so significant to one culture can ultimately be lost in translation across others. I look forward to learning more about Asian culture because like you I have also come into this subject without much knowledge.

    For future reference, I would love to know more about your background and how its allowed you to personally interpret digital Asia, such as the Gojira film.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I appreciate the personal reflection, not just on the film and its franchise, but on the subject itself. You acknowledge that this subject is about autoethnography, and then go on to have a discussion on your feelings about autoethnography; Very meta!
    Your insight into the background and motives of this film are also on point. My particular favourite part is where you talk about Japan “losing itself”, because I think it’s very important that Godzilla has become a part of Japan.

    Like

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