The VigilanceVoice

July 30, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 321

Former Terrorist Turned Sentinel Of Vigilance

Cliff McKenzie
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, July 30-- Godzilla!   A creature of violence.   A beast of Terrorism, raining havoc on Japan, scattering its citizens to the wind, smashing buildings, roaring, screaming, angry.



       Well, not really.

       He started out that way--back in 1954 when he first hit the movie screens.    But today, he has evolved.   Now, he protects the earth from Terrorists like King Ghidra, a three-headed space dragon or Hadora, the Smog Monster who is a shape-shifting blob of mercury and cadmium.

        Twenty-six Godzilla movies have been made over the past forty-eight years, and including one each year since 1984.   They have become cult movies, reflecting the attitude of a nation Terrorized by atomic bombs, the fire-bombings of Tokyo, and a pacifistic, yet Vigilant outlook toward the future of mankind.     

King Ghidra

        This summer, the Taro Okamoto Museum has doubled its attendance to see a showing called "Since Godzilla," an anatomy of cultural changes within Japanese society reflected by the movie monster every child in Japan, and most around the world, is acquainted with.     


     Godzilla was born from the seeds of Terrorism.   The dinosaur-like creature, resembling a T-Rex,  breaths radioactive plasmic fire and is virtually indestructible.  It first appeared in 1954 under the Japanese title Gojira.   An American version was cut two years later, starring Raymond Burr, playing a U.S. news reporter ironically named, Steve Martin (The actor Steve Martin was only 11 years old in 1956).  Its U.S. title was Gojira/Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
        In the first three films, Godzilla represented the Terrorism of war, a symbol of the horror of destruction wreaked on the Japanese.   He smashed towns, burned people with his radioactive breath, and served as our current-day Osama bin Laden--a reminder to all that horror was just around the corner.

        Then he went through a transformation.   From Terrorist, he became the Sentinel of Vigilance, guarding the earth from the dreaded King Ghidra, a three-headed space dragon.   At first Godzilla was reluctant to fight Ghidra, but Mothra, a giant silkworm who could communicate with humans and pass information onto Godzilla, urged the monster to help defend the earth from the alien threat.   Of course, Godzilla took the challenge, turning from Lex Luther to Superman.   Ghidra became Godzilla's arch enemy.

       Godzilla's fame around the world has been supported by his fierce concern for protecting the earth from other monsters.   Millions of dollars have been earned from toys and other spin offs from the movies which endure.

       A visitor to the museum honoring Godzilla's history said he liked the creature's sentimentality, plus his strength to fight off any challengers.    The Japanese culture expresses its feelings through the creature, said museum curator, Hiroshi Osugi.  "We wanted to look back on Japanese society to show the changes in character of Godzilla, and the empathy felt toward him and how people accept Godzilla today."

      Godzilla didn't become a "good guy" overnight.   The films were riddled with anti-American jabs, specifically attacking the idea of the "giant" lording over the "small."  

Son of Godzilla

        For example, in one movie Godzilla smashed gleaming buildings in downtown Tokyo.  The buildings represented the American PX that once stood as a symbol of domination of the rich over the poor.    In the 60's, Godzilla takes on King Kong, a way to thumb Japan's nose at America's most lovable monster.    And a few years later, Godzilla destroyed the United Nations.
    But Vigilance ruled when Godzilla appeared with a child, a Barney-like toddler, the Son of Godzilla, bouncing on his tail.    It was then that Godzilla softened, became more gentle.  It was then he became a Parent of Vigilance, a protector not a Terrorist, of all children.

       I find a huge message in the nearly five decades since Godzilla was launched.   The films capture the evolution of Vigilance.   They describe in a time-line the switch from Godzilla's thirst for revenge against all humanity, to the idea that he is charged with a greater responsibility than his self-interests--that of protecting his children, and other children's children.
     Fierce and powerful, he remains able to tackle any foe that might try and conquer the earth, yet, through his son, he becomes soft and tender, looking ahead to the future of little Godzilla's.

      It seems others who try to make Godzilla fit in their societies fail to capture his essence.  The American version of Godzilla, a 1998 high-tech made-in-the-USA film, flopped.   Hollywood missed the point about who Godzilla was and made him more of a monster than a Creature of Vigilance.
     The Germans also tried to alter Godzilla's character by turning him into Frankenstein.  In their films, they always included the name Frankenstein in the titles, and included footage of Dr. Frankenstein sending the monsters into the battles.
      But Godzilla belongs to the Japanese, the only nation to suffer a nuclear attack.   The island-nation stands today as symbol of Vigilance, its Godzilla representing a combination of the nation's pain, anguish and evolution as one of the strongest nations in the world without an army, missiles, guns.

Hiroshima Monument

       In the center of the town of Hiroshima stands a monument to the devastation of nuclear war, a signet of the Terrorism people wage upon others.  Godzilla was born out of nuclear testing, brought to life to remind us all that the Beast of Terror can be tamed.
     I'd like to think Vigilance can overpower Terrorism.   I'd like to think that the Son of Godzilla made the creature stop and think, and turn from a Terrorist into a Sentinel of Vigilance, more concerned about the future of the children and their children's children than on revenge or retaliation.

      I also like the idea that Godzilla is tough and has the Courage, Conviction to take the Right Action to fight off those who attack the security of the world.    I don't believe we should demolish our swords, but rather keep them in our scabbards with our hands on the hilt, ready to give our lives to protect the future. 
     Godzilla started out inflicting Fear, Intimidation and Complacency upon society.  Today, he represents Courage, Conviction and Right Action.  
     But it didn't come easily.   One who elects to become a Sentinel of Vigilance, a Parent of Vigilance, a Citizen of Vigilance, a Godzilla of Vigilance, needs to realize the journey isn't a smooth one.   Inside all of us remains the Beasts of Terror--the Fears, the Intimidations, the Complacencies that serve as lids on our self's ability to evolve.   It takes muscle to loosen those lids, to open the jars of our own Terroristic thoughts and replace them with Vigilant ones.
      I'm hopeful we can all become Godzillas of Vigilance.
      We can, if we remember that our own needs come secondary to those of our children, and all children.   Until that day happens, we will remain King Ghidras, three-headed monsters, one full of our Fears, another brimmed with our Intimidations, and the last stuffed with Complacencies.
      Take the Pledge of Vigilance today.  Free yourself to become a Godzilla.
     Note:  links to Godzilla movies---

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