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‘Over-sized’ Godzilla a symbol of American consumer greed?

Godzilla at the Chinese Theater.
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Last week, the internet was full of stories about many people in Japan criticizing Warner Bros.’ upcoming “Godzilla” reboot. Many Japanese said Warner’s version of the radiation-breathing dragon is too fat. However, when compared to Hollywood’s earlier 1998 reboot that starred Mathew Broderick, Warner’s version of the monster comes much closer to that of the original Japanese one. The 1998 version looked much more like a cross between a creature with a man’s body and a serpent’s head. In the upcoming film, Godzilla still has his broad snout and wider, webbed fins like in the original Japanese film. These are big differences from the 1998 monster’s pointy snout and tall, shark-like fins. But what the Japanese fans are really criticizing is not so much the alterations in general than the extra pounds that Warner’s Godzilla has “put on” in specific, which just may be a reflection of our country’s overconsumption of resources especially via “super-size it” commercialism.

The Japanese’ impression of Warner’s Godzilla being overweight may be due to their standards of average weight which is much thinner compared to the U.S.’s where society lives in a “super-size it” consumer driven culture. Because much of this drive comes from the big corporations’ commercial competition, perhaps this Godzilla is depicted more as one of villainous greed and gluttony and so is more heavily influenced by the Western dragon myth as seen in Smoug of “The Hobbit”. If so, this will probably be a much more destructive, murderous creature—as is the case with monsters in many of our own sci fi horror movies--as opposed to the more problematic heroic one of Japan. Even though the humans in Japan’s “Godzilla” movies initially react to the monster as if it were an oppressive villain, it’s often simultaneously portrayed as a tragic hero. Only because of the monster’s massive size and animal instincts is it shown as not capable of living among human society.

Since the movie does not release until May 16, we can’t say for sure that the “XX-Large” Godzilla is a symbol for America’s commercial driven greed. But if it is, then perhaps the Japanese have plenty of justification in criticizing not only Warner’s version of Japan’s 60 year pop cultural icon but also our own country’s overconsumption of resources. Such justification would make Warner’s Godzilla a monster in the truest sense, wouldn’t it?

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