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For murder monsters caused by selfishness towards the environment, see The Host (and Princess Mononoke almost fits).

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The original studio were making Godzilla the hero fifty years ago. Does that mean that a Japanese studio was arguing that nukes were useful weapons in 1964?

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tickstander said on February 26th, 2014 at 4:58 pm

‘Ken Watanabe says “the arrogance of man is thinking nature is in our control… and not the other way around.”’ Plus, you can just see deniers lining up to interpret that as the movie being anti-climate change. One of their big lines is that humans CAN’T have a serious effect on the Earth’s climate.

That said OMG RODAN.

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Timothy T. said on February 26th, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Nukes were tested in the Pacific before Godzilla arrived in 1954. So the metaphor still works and ties into climate change problems too. What started as man being careless and irresponsible develops into a bad situation where you need to do MORE bad stuff in order to try and fix the problem (h-bombs being ‘tested’ in order to try get rid of Godzilla). And that could be comparable to recent discussions over the feasibility of modifying our environment on purpose to counteract global warming. Something that may be useful or may screw it up even worse.

The Godzilla as climate change is neat, but it’s tougher to do it well. I’m not sure that the metaphor will work.

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I think zombies these days aren’t so much about metaphors for societal fears so much as they are bullet sponges.

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I suspect that Godzilla was still created by nuclear weapons. Somebody also says in there that “We woke something.”

My guess is that Godzilla was “awakened” by Hiroshima or Nagasaki, and now the movie is all about how it’s America’s fault and our problem is coming home to kill us all.

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While the traditional Godzilla metaphor is nuclear weapons, I think Godzilla works best as an overall metaphor for war and the escalation of conflict. This ties into the big ethical conflict of the first film regarding the oxygen destroyer. Serizawa kills himself at the end just to keep another, greater weapon from arising from his work. I think it also helps explain why Godzilla’s sometimes the protagonist of a film. Sometimes war is justified or necessary, but it’s never good, and something is going to get destroyed and innocent people will get hurt.

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History shows again and again how Nature points up the folly of man. Godzilla!

Yes, absolutely. Godzilla should always be an allegory for the potential of human beings to catastrophically alter the environment generally, and the spectre of nuclear weapons specifically. And it’s still very much a relevant message. (We aren’t scared about nukes anymore? And Iran has been all over the news this past year because why then exactly?)

There is some element of the truth to the Watanabe line — we’re dumb enough to think we’ve got everything under control right up until we don’t, and then Nature smacks us back. But the line misses the key point, which is that lack of control isn’t the same as lack of effect, and we have to recognize our potential to trigger disruptive effects, which may then well become uncontrollable.

So I think the line is a poor one, regardless of the metaphor at work. I agree that it certainly doesn’t work for climate disruption — entirely our fault, entirely our control, entirely our stupidity in failing to do anything about it — but it doesn’t work for the original Godzilla metaphor, either. The whole point is not that we have no control over Nature, it’s that we do affect Nature if we’re not careful. We made Godzilla, through our hubris and ignorance and inability to control the power we had given ourselves, so that the destruction Godzilla wreaks is ultimately of our own doing. If the new film changes this to “Godzilla was just there, and we woke him up”, then the message just becomes “Eh, Nature, whaddayagonnadoamirite?”, which would be a shame.

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Climate change may be about selfishness, but I think there is an element of helplessness to it as well. We caused the problem, and now all these horrible things are happening as a result; unnaturally huge and powerful storms, heat waves and unexpected cold snaps, even some of the recent earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanoes could be blamed on it if those theories on changing water levels affecting the pressure on the Ring of Fire are true.

It’s not hard to see such events as disembodied kaiju, natural forces punishing humankind for its hubris. Yes, we can potentially reverse climate change, so we’re not totally helpless, but try telling that to a man watching a monstrous wildfire eating its way towards his house. When you’re in the path of massive, primal threats, or grappling with the overwhelming challenge of mitigating them through somewhat feeble-seeming actions, then you feel pretty damn helpless.

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Singular Quartet said on February 26th, 2014 at 9:06 pm

Two issues with that statement.

First, Godzilla isn’t always an allegory for Nuclear Weapons.

In “Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack” (Most Awesome Title Ever), Godzilla was the antagonist, and was outright stated to be the vengeance of the people killed in Japanese war crimes during World War II (e.g. Rape of Nanking, Unit 731) that Japan refuses to acknowledge in any meaningful way, shape, or form.

Second, I think it still is about man’s hubris and nuclear weapons, but has changed to a more modern tone and fear.

Ken Watanabe (I think) outright states that in 1954 they “woke something.” Nuclear testing in the South Pacific started as early as 1946, and really took off in 1951 or so. A good film to watch to see just how much testing was done in the early fifties would be Isao Hashimoto’s time lapse video of all 2053 nuclear detonations since 1945.

The metaphor is still nuclear weapons, but I think they’ve changed it to fit a more modern look at nuclear weapons. Instead of the “My god, what have we done” message of the 1950s, of the fear of nuclear weapons themselves, the message is “what have we unleashed, that can never be put back” message of nuclear proliferation. The fear that once something has been created, it can never be un-created. Or, at least, that’s a metaphor that can be pulled out of my ass. I’ll hold off on further speculation once I see the movie.

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mygif

Allegory, shmallegory; make with the smashing!

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Of course nukes are useful weapons. If you have any doubt of that, just look at how quickly WW2 ended after we used a couple of them (an act which, ironically, saved millions of Japanese lives from the otherwise inevitable U.S. invasion).

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DensityDuck said on February 27th, 2014 at 12:12 am

Don’t forget, though, that in the first movie, the way they kill Godzilla is to invent the Oxygen Destroyer, which is basically a nuclear weapon only even worse.

So this can still be about climate change. Godzilla wasn’t awoken by nuclear weapons, he was awoken by the changing climate resulting from human technological development. In this metaphor the Oxygen Destroyer isn’t a weapon, but an intentional refusal to use advanced (and energy-intensive) technology.

Which is where the trailer’s line about “this is gonna smash us back to the Stone Age!” comes in…

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Is it worth noting that even Toho abandoned the Godzilla allegory pretty fucking quickly?

I mean, seriously. Yes, a lot of the kaiju films at least tried to have some sort of allegory about the utter hubris of man in them. But a lot of them are just a paper-thin excuse for giant monster fights.

Hell, look at Godzilla vs. Mecha-Godzilla, one of the more famous ones because it is the first appearance of, well, Mecha-Godzilla. The whole movie is literally just aliens trying to conquer the Earth with a giant mechanical Godzilla. That’s it.

So I’m not all that broken up that it looks like we’re going to get Pacific Rim II: Now With Less Robots.

On a more positive topic, I have two observations. First of all, was that motherfucking Rodan in there? Because if that’s Rodan I will see this multiple times.

Second of all… top three kaiju, go!

1) Mothra. I don’t know why. I just love Mothra.

2) Mecha-Godzilla, because COME ON.

3) Godzilla. Sorry, Rodan. On a better day you’d have been three.

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Tim O'Neil said on February 27th, 2014 at 5:54 am

If this Godzilla makes it past the first, then they can have as much fun as they want with subsequent kaiju fights. But the first movie needs to be an allegory or the rest just doesn’t work – not every Spider-Man story is about power and responsibility, but the first one has to be, you know?

Also, I thought it was pretty obvious – Biotech is Godzilla.

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As far as I can tell, the new Godzilla will be an allegory for the hubris of activist judges trying to push their secular homofascist worldviews on a nation founded on God’s laws. Godzilla is representative of all the disasters that have befallen us because of it: terror attacks, hurricanes, losing in the Olympics. If only Obama hadn’t used unauthorized drone strikes to kill our Jobs, Cash, and Hope.

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I think there is something else nobody here is considering including you, MGK. That line about using nukes to kill it doesn’t HAVE to be about Godzilla. There’s a clear shot in the trailer where a couple humans are standing in a giant skeleton that clearly isn’t Godzilla. So there are other monsters. I believe there was also a statement somewhere (sorry I don’t have the source) that floated on the interwebs for a bit that Godzilla was going to end up fighting another giant monster.

So I think this is the way it’s going to go down: Godzilla will be wrecking mankind and the people “in the know” will assume that he is the monster they were trying to bomb. But (WHAT A TWIST) he’s not. There’s another monster that Godzilla has been hunting this entire time. And Godzilla was created by the nukes when mankind bombed the first monster.

Allegory restored.

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mygif

WTF re HALO jumpers? Are they gonna be crawling around on the Big G like lice? B/c that >is< an interesting way of fighting him…

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There’s some (admittedly sketchy) evidence in the trailer of other members of the Kaiju pantheon appearing in the film. If such is the case, perhaps the new allegory is that, by trying to destroy one threat, we create many more.

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I was not aware that the art of trailer interpretation had advanced to such a point that you could decipher the underlying message of the movie just by watching the trailer,

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Actually, it kind of looks like this might not be a REMAKE so much as a GODZILLA 1985-style REBOOT:there seems to be several direct references to the original GOJIRA (most blatantly, that giant skeleton).
If the 1954 film is, in fact, part of the new film’s backstory, then the metaphor still stands, i think.

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Totally possible that Watanabe is lying.

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DistantFred said on February 28th, 2014 at 1:07 am

I don’t know exactly how useful nukes are as weapons if dropping atom bombs on Godzilla for a decade managed to not even kill him a little. In fact, I think this is actually the biggest Godzilla to date, so it’s even possible that nuking G just made him even larger and more dangerous, which would actually suppory a theme of anti-arms proliferation. If using ever deadlier weapons only makes what you’re fighting even more dangerous, than it will eventually bite you in the ass.

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Patrick Spens said on February 28th, 2014 at 1:38 am

Wantanabe says “We awakened something” while a soldier is wiping godzilla goop off of what is either an un-detonated nuclear bomb, or a nuclear waste container. I’m pretty sure they’re still going with the Godzilla was caused by nukes plot line.

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I’m definitely going to see this, but what I would pay some serious coin for is a movie or, better yet, TV adaptation of the recent Half-Century War miniseries.

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Of course nukes are useful weapons. If you have any doubt of that, just look at how quickly WW2 ended after we used a couple of them (an act which, ironically, saved millions of Japanese lives from the otherwise inevitable U.S. invasion).

A little off topic, but check your history:
http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v16/v16n3p-4_Weber.html

By May of 1945, American bombers were already systematically reducing Japanese cities to rubble at will. Most of the population was starving, there weren’t any supplies to build any weapons to fight back. The entire country was a stiff breeze away from collapse. Nukes didn’t win that war.

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@Sisyphus — nope, the Russians’ entry into the Pacific War is what brought about Japan’s surrender. We had already destroyed most of their cities, blowing the remaining ones off the map wasn’t going to shake their resolve at that point. they had 5,000 planes salted away in caves + thousands of manned torpedoes & suicide boats. Their strategy was to throw all their last reserves at a US invasion, push it back into the sea, and then hope the US would not feel like trying it again & be willing to negotiate an armistice. When Russian declared war on them they knew they couldn’t fight off two invasions & so capitulated while there was still time to surrender to the Americans. Check the time line: Russia invaded Manchuria & China the same day we bombed Nagasaki; that was the tipping point to surrender (tho it took another 5 days & a failed coup to get there)

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Singular Quartet said on February 28th, 2014 at 3:50 pm

@buzz – I’ve looked at summaries of Hasegawa’s argument, and from what I’ve read, it feels like he didn’t even take into account that it was somehow the military leadership that both wanted the surrender when the USSR entered the war to preserve the Imperial line, and also was behind the coup in an attempt to keep Japan in the war.

Combined, that makes me question his work, but again, I haven’t read his actual work on the matter and am only going by summaries.

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Fred Davis said on March 3rd, 2014 at 12:08 pm

How on earth does Godzilla ONLY knock the Statue of Liberty’s arm off? Did he try to high five her because hey, a fellow jotun, wassup my sist… oh god, what have i done!? SCHKREEEEARK!

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malakim2099 said on March 6th, 2014 at 9:41 am

Fred: At least she didn’t get decapitated. Poor girl gets the worst treatment in these movies lately…

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Enlight_Bystand said on March 7th, 2014 at 3:18 am

Fred: That’s the Vegas Statue of Liberty, not the real one – He probably just waled vaguely near it and caught the arm

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“(Yeah, yeah, “infectious diseases,” my ass.)”

Funny, I don’t see a lot of brown people planning for the zombie apocalypse. Wierd, eh?

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[…] the question of whether or not it was artistically coherent. Firstly, it is worth noting that my previous suspicions re: the movie’s shifting allegory are partially correct. Although nuclear energy is in part […]

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