Reading the Mind of Godzilla

Have you heard our latest show? In addition to diving into the immigration debate and exploring the world of poachers, we re-aired an interview on everybody’s favorite monster with George Mason University’s Thomas Britt.

Listen above — and read more about Godzilla’s story below.


If you haven’t noticed, channels like HBO and AMC have amplified their violence in recent years in an attempt to make their shows feel more gritty and real. From Game of Thrones to the Walking Dead the violence is enough to turn some people off of shows that were once “appointment viewing” — an industry word for those programs you want to shut out the world for every week. One of our guests this week, Thomas Britt, investigates this stuff for a living – and he has some interesting things to say about our viewing habits.

But this week’s show isn’t all gore and destruction — or, rather, it kind of is, since we’re also taking a look at the long cultural impact of one of the world’s most recognizable monsters…

That’s right — Godzilla.

Jason Barr is a student of the ways of Godzilla — and that doesn’t mean he spends his time knocking down model buildings and fighting giant creatures from the deep. Instead, Barr studies Godzilla for what he says about Japanese culture. Turns out, Godzilla has more to offer than his rather rudimentary opinions on Japanese architecture.

Most scholars agree the 1954 original Gojira set up its monster as a symbol of nuclear destruction. Released just years after the end of the Second World War, scenes like this one, where an irradiated child is evaluated in hospital, would have recalled painful memories for a Japanese audience.

Gojira paints its monster partly as a lost soul, a nuclear abomination disturbed from his home, confused and wandering and happening to destroy Tokyo society in the process. And later Godzilla movies, Barr says, will play on this depiction to explore new themes — of American incompetence, Japanese pacifism, and careless environmental destruction.

If you’re looking for a way to gear up for this week’s show, try giving Gojira a try. Maybe you’ve only ever heard of the tacky special effects and scenes of destruction — but there’s a deep, dark, human drama at its core.