I’m a huge Godzilla fan. OK, so I’m also a fan of the smaller Godzillas. Let’s face it, I just like mutant, radioactive lizards, regardless of size, who stomp expensive developed real estate. That’s not to say size doesn’t matter. If Godzilla were only as big as, say, those puny “Jurassic Park” dinosaurs, he (or she?) wouldn’t be nearly as effective as a classic movie metaphor.
That being said, I still haven’t found the time to check out the new “Godzilla: King of the Monsters” movie on the big screen yet. I’ve been too busy watching the six-hour miniseries adaptation of Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s wonderful, classic novel “Good Omens” on Amazon instead. But you just about have to watch a Godzilla movie on the big screen these days to get the full effect of its size.
That’s because our favorite plasma-spewing reptile keeps growing with each new incarnation, so much so that soon theater owners may have to resort to another movie cliché and utter the classic variant, “We’re gonna need a bigger screen.”
When Godzilla first stomped into popular culture 65 years ago in the 1954 Japanese classic “Gojira,” it stood an impressive (for the time) 164 feet. Why 164 feet and not 163 or 165? I don’t know. I just know I would have hated to have been the guy they handed a tape measure to with instructions to go measure it.
In its latest, 2019, incarnation, the King of the Monsters stands 393 feet, or roughly 66.6 (a number also of significance in “Good Omens”) Kings of Rock-’n’-Roll placed on top of each other. That’s a lot of Elvi.
So why does an aging Godzilla, now a senior citizen, keep growing? In science and journalism classes in school, we were always taught that there is no such thing as a stupid question. So leave it to some scientists who apparently were in between serious scientific investigations and needed to look busy to theorize on why our favorite home-wrecker keeps getting bigger.
The lead researcher on the project, Nathaniel Dominy, an anthropology professor at Dartmouth College, ruled out genetics and environmental factors for Godzilla’s 30-percent increase in size over the years, according to the paper recently published in the journal Science.
The researchers studied U.S. military spending, which has risen exponentially for the past 65 years, as well as other socioeconomic elements and determined that cultural anxiety is to blame for Godzilla’s growth spurts.
“Whether reacting to geopolitical instability, a perceived threat from terrorists or simply fear of ‘the other,’ democracies are electing nationalist leaders, strengthening borders and bolstering their military presence,” the researchers write. “(Godzilla) is this ever-useful metaphor for whatever kinds of existential threat we fear as a collective culture, whether it’s nuclear bombs or climate change.”
And Godzilla, the report concludes, teaches us how to deal with those threats.
“Godzilla’s near invincibility almost always eventually leads humanity to the realization that they must work together to defeat it,” according to the report.
Then again, maybe bigger is just badder.