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GODZILLA: The Monster Who Ate The 20th Century
(August 06) by Jeff Timbrell


It doesn’t matter what I think about Godzilla.

You can pontificate, criticize, editorialize, thumb your nose, roll your eyes, or give the big green guy a 'rock on' hand gesture.

You can compare him to Mount Fuji, Beowulf or Big Bird.

It doesn’t matter. Godzilla will endure.

Godzilla is not just a guy in a funny rubber suit. He is every monster Of the 20th Century rolled up into one. He is the alien intelligence bent on destruction. He is the power and force of nature’s unbridled strength. He is Lovecraft’s ancient slumbering horror awakening from a long winter’s nap. He is the mistakes and arrogance of humanity coming towards us like a supernatural backlash. Godzilla touches Earth’s future and it’s past simultaneously. He lives and exists in both. He is the man-eating giant, the fire-breathing Dragon, and the nuclear bomb all in one. He is a living piece of Earth’s prehistoric age acting as a reminder that we’re not the rulers of the world. Merely it’s occupants.

And occasionally he dances.

He’s also a marvel of monster creation. In an arena of complicated make-up effects and special effects, Godzilla’s trademark design is brilliant in it’s simplicity. The dorsal fins and ferocious head, with hulking body, and long whipping tail, makes Godzilla a sort of ultimate chimera. A shark, a tyrannosaurus rex, a silver-back gorilla and a dragon, all in one. It stands proudly beside iconic movie monsters like King Kong and Creature from the Black Lagoon. And much like Kong and Creature, it’s his character that defines him and makes him iconic. Not the budget of his movies.

Godzilla is not a conventional giant movie monster. Although some prefer to call him by his true Japanese name 'Gojira', I find Godzilla to be just as accurate a title. He is, after-all, a 50 million year old reptilian deity.

Whether nuclear radiation mutated him into what he is, or just woke him up out of bed, is completely inconsequential. He is a mountain-sized titan that breathes war and stomps through civilizations, shrugging off armies and alien invaders as if they were fleas. Simply put, he’s not a monster. He’s the King of Monsters. He is not a dinosaur, he is a dinosaur god.

Naturally, Godzilla has his critics and his naysayer’s. Film aficionados Who are offended by his 50 year long popularity streak, pouting their lips about this giant rubber suit’s effect on society. And while many critics have buried Godzilla’s movies over the years (and rightfully so in many cases). It just doesn’t matter. Praise him or hate him Godzilla is here to stay.

Just like the other iconic movie monsters of the 20th century, Godzilla Is bigger than the movies he stars in. He’s been so much for so many people. From an iconic Japanese anti-hero, to a Saturday afternoon legend, a Drive-In Theater staple and a B Movie wunderkind.

He’s been an inspiration that drew many into the study of Dinosaurs and prehistoric animals. He’s been connected to the firebombing of Japan and the bombing of Hiroshima. And to others he has represented environmentalism. He is beloved by some for his campy antics against space alien disco fiends from Planet X. He is beloved by others for representing a dark god out for vengeance against the whole human race. And for some people, he is all of the above and more.

Understanding that, shows why his harshest critics have been effectively hurling their rotten tomatoes at an erupting volcano. It shows why Godzilla endures after all these years.

He’s not a movie star, so much as he is a symbol. Not just a monster, but the monster incarnate. The idea of Godzilla, the mythology and image of the character is as protean, mysterious and gigantic as the imagination of the people who watch him. It`s no wonder that cynicism bounces off his hide like every other conventional human weapon. He is impervious to it.

When it comes to movie monsters, Godzilla is a true icon of fright.

- Jeff Timbrell

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