"Everything is as it should be."

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Shin Godzilla : A Review

****THIS REVIEW CONTAINS VERY MINOR SPOILERS!!! THIS IS NOT A SPOILER FREE REVIEW!!!****

My Rating : 4 out of 5 Stars

My Recommendation : See it in the Theatre.

OF GODS AND MONSTERS

Shin Godzilla (Godzilla Resurgence), written and directed by Hideaki Anno (co-directed by Shinji Higuchi), is Tokyo based Toho studios 29th Godzilla film and its third reboot of the franchise. The film tells the origin story of Godzilla as he emerges from Tokyo bay and ravages modern day Japan. The film stars Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi and Satomi Ishihara. 

Being the good Irish Catholic boy that I am, I usually spend Sunday mornings at Mass, but this past Sunday morning I attended a different kind of sacred ritual. Instead of Mass I went to the Royal Laemmle Theatre in Santa Monica, a sort of Church of the Sacred Nerd, and waited in line for the chance to get to worship God...zilla. God-zilla be praised as my waiting was not in vain and I was able to see the film which is in very limited release here in the states. I know that many will find my worship of Godzilla blasphemous, but when you dig deeper you discover I am not blaspheming at all.

As we are told in Shin Godzilla, the name "Godzilla" or "Gojira" as the Japanese call him, is literally translated to mean, "God Incarnate". The beauty of Shin Godzilla is that it recognizes the God encounter as a truly horrifying experience, not the new age, Mega-church, rainbow and puppy dog experience we Americans think it to be. The God encounter is undeniably terrifying, as God is capable of cataclysmic destruction without the least bit of effort. The Japanese have learned this lesson all to well over the years, from the annihilation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by nuclear bombs, or the fire bombing of Tokyo in World War II, to the recent devastation wrought by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami and the resulting nuclear disaster at Fukushima, the Japanese have seen first hand the power and peril of the God encounter.

I realize that most people think of Godzilla movies as a joke, and this thinking is strongly based in fact, as evidenced by the two atrocious American Godzilla movies (1998 & 2014), and a string of less than decent Toho Godzilla movies over the years. But Shin Godzilla is different, it is an actual, honest to goodness movie. Shin Godzilla, unlike its American counterparts, is entirely structurally and mythologically sound in every way. Yes, the special effects are not quite up to snuff at times, and there is a little bit of campiness to be found if you're looking for it, but with that said, Shin Godzilla takes itself and its subject matter deadly serious. 

Similar to the original Japanese Godzilla (1954), not to be confused with the abomination that is the American version of that film starring Raymond Burr from 1956, Shin Godzilla skillfully uses the myth of Godzilla to tell a wider and more important story. Shin Godzilla uses the Godzilla monster to tell the story of the suffocating and debilitating bureaucracy that has paralyzed Japanese government and society. And while these scenes of government ineptitude and impotence are funny, they aren't a joke. Shin Godzilla is meant to hold up a mirror to Japan and hold it accountable for its less than stellar performance in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami of 2011, and also praise it for the resilience and ingenuity of its people when unshackled by that bureaucracy.

Shin Godzilla is also about American imperialism and colonialism. Even seventy years after the end of World War II, the Japanese are well aware that they are still under the thumb and beholden to the Americans, who bully and cajole the world into bending to its will. In the film, Japan must acquiesce to America's demands or rebuilding the country after Godzilla will not be nearly as easy (and it wasn't easy) as rebuilding after the destruction of World War II. This is one of the main themes of the film, the Japanese search for its soul and spirit in the aftermath of devastation.

MAKE JAPAN GREAT AGAIN!!

It takes a wildfire for a forest to grow stronger, and so it is with Japan in a post-Godzilla, and post-American, world. Once the ruling class with all of their bureaucrats, technocrats and yes-man are burned to the ground, the true heart of the Japanese people can be revealed, the heart of a people with the Samurai myth entrenched deep within their psyches. Shin Godzilla shows us that the Faustian bargain the Japanese made post-WW II with the U.S. has left the nation a flaccid shadow of its former self, and Japan must grow a pair of balls if it wants to survive in the new world of the 21st century.

In the film we see that once Japan can get past its debilitatingly hierarchical political system and get back to the strength and greatness of its people, it will be be able to re-build from the ashes and rubble left in Godzilla's wake. Japan can become strong and independent once again and shake off the imperialism and colonialism of the west if they can only remove their self-serving and cowardly governing class. To put it in American terms, the Japanese need to "Make Japan Great Again!!", and Godzilla is their Donald Trump, who will burn down the establishment to make way for the Japanese to take back their country from its overlords and their self-induced malaise. The difference between Godzilla and Trump though is that Godzilla, being God Incarnate, is the unadulterated and terrifying Truth, whereas Donald Trump is the self-delusional lie, both the lie that he tells himself and the lie his followers tell themselves.

In Shin Godzilla, the options are clearly presented for the Japanese, they can fall under the rule of the U.S. and the U.N., or turn to other imperialist powers like Russia or China. Instead of following those paths the Japanese realize they must turn inward and conquer their fear and shame, and take their country back, not only from Godzilla, but from the west. This sort of self-determination and neo-nationalism unleashes a pride and self-sufficiency that can go one of two ways. It can either be turned into a confident and self-reliant patriotism, or it can become an arrogant and toxic imperialism hungry for conquest and control. The Japanese have known both forms of this pride, as has America. Shin Godzilla leaves me wondering where this national thought process will lead the current generation of Japanese who seem to be dying on the vine, a lost generation of sorts without even the will to reproduce or the imperative of the sexual drive.

"MAN IS WORSE THAN GODZILLA"

A female scientist in Shin Godzilla tells her compatriots that "Man is worse than Godzilla". This statement resonates with her co-workers who, even seventy years later, all hear the echo of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki ringing in their collective ears. Godzilla was born of those atomic bombs, both literally and figuratively, and as he stomps across Tokyo he leaves a trail of fire and devastation that looks remarkably like the destruction left in the wake of the firebombing of Tokyo in World War II.

As former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara once stated, "LeMay (U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay) said, 'If we'd lost the war, we'd all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he's right. He, I'd say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?" (The Fog of War). But to the victors of WWII went the spoils, and to the Japanese went the nightmare that still haunts them to this day.

The Japanese nightmare of World War II is embodied in Shin Godzilla by the "alternative" scientist who had discovered and studied Godzilla but whose work was covered up by the U.S., This scientist, Goro Maki, had lost his wife to radiation sickness from fallout of the Hiroshima attack. A tormented Maki commits suicide in Tokyo Bay by presumably jumping into the water. From the exact spot where Maki jumped into the water, Godzilla rises. In other words, Godzilla is born of the national and personal wound of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic attacks.

LEVIATHANS, ROUGH BEASTS AND THE SHADOW

As the film and Godzilla progress, his destruction looks disturbingly similar to that of the tsunami in 2011. Director Anno masterfully relates Godzilla to the most recent catastrophes in Japan, the tsunami and the Fukushima meltdown. It is easy for us in the west to forget, but over 18,000 people were killed by those events. That is six times the amount killed on 9-11. The Japanese psyche must be deeply scarred by that "God encounter" and the wrath and destruction it wrought. This is why Shin Godzilla is so effective, it uses those deeply ingrained scars and fears to reveal to the Japanese truths about themselves. Shin Godzilla teaches us that just as the God encounter at Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 still reverberates in the collective consciousness of the Japanese today, so will the equally horrific God encounter of the tsunami and Fukushima in 2011 effect future generations.

In Shin Godzilla, Godzilla is the long ignored psychological shadow of Japan. The beast is born out of Japan's anger, shame and guilt for its past hubris and both the sins it committed, the rape of Nanking for instance, and that were committed upon it, Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The psychological shadow contains a great deal of energy and power, and when the shadow contents are consciously integrated, which they yearn to be, then that energy and power can be released and used positively. When these shadow components are not consciously integrated, but rather unconsciously vent, the effects are devastating. The shadow contents desperately want to be made conscious, and when they are ignored or repressed, they lash out. Godzilla is the ignored shadow lashing out in order to be recognized, acknowledged and finally integrated. 

Godzilla's destructive power is heightened by his radioactive core. This radioactive core, just like the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when unleashed leaves a trail of deadly fallout behind them. Godzilla and the atomic bombs not only kill in the moment, but for years and decades to come. This means that even when Godzilla is gone, he will not soon be forgotten. Like all powerful elements of the shadow, Godzilla forces the Japanese to acknowledge him consciously and to never be able to push him back into the bay, a symbol of the unconscious. 

Like the Behemoth or Leviathan of the Old Testament, Godzilla is a symbol of the terrifying power unleashed when we have a God Encounter. Shin Godzilla is like the Book of Job, with Japan being Job and Godzilla being God's psychological shadow. Godzilla is a reminder to the Japanese, and all of us, that while we may think we are in control, we aren't. Not even close. Godzilla is a symbol of the powers out of our control, and of the darkness that is rising in our world that will engulf us all sooner or later. Our collective shadow, and Godzilla, will not be ignored much longer. Like the reptilian beast that lurched out of a black pool in Orlando to snatch a little Nebraska boy a few months back, Godzilla is coming out of the depths to remind us of our fragile place in the world and the universe. And we aren't going to be happy when we are forced to reckon with the fact that our rightful place is not at the top of that totem pole. 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, Shin Godzilla is not only a terrific Godzilla film, it is a very good film. While it doesn't boast the high end special effects of the U.S. Godzilla films, it certainly outdoes its American counter parts with in-depth storytelling, acting and directing. While some non-Godzilla fans may not be able to get past the perceived silliness and campiness of a monster movie, those with the ability to suspend their disbelief and enjoy well done cinema will be left very satisfied by Shin Godzilla. The film is in very limited release in the U.S. so I recommend you see it in the theatre while you can!! 

©2016

 

Orlando and The Rough Beast

Estimated Reading Time : 7 Minutes

On the night of Friday, June 10th, singer Christina Grimmie, a 22 year old former contestant on the NBC show The Voice, was shot and killed by a deranged fan after a performance in Orlando, Florida. The next night, June 11th, Omar Mateen, a 29 year old American man of Afghan descent, walked into the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida and shot over a hundred people, killing 49 of them, in the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. The following Tuesday, June 14, Lane Graves, a two year old boy visiting Disney World from Nebraska with his parents and four year old sister, was snatched and killed by an alligator while wading in shallow water in a lake in Orlando, Florida.

These three stories share much in common, violence, tragedy, grief, frustration, heartbreak and, oddly enough, geographic location. From a human perspective, these stories illicit a great deal of emotion, as we are all able to project ourselves or our loved ones into their horrific circumstances. From a mythological/psychological perspective, these stories reveal something much deeper and much darker about us, our collective unconscious, our time and what lies ahead for us all.

The Religion of Fame and Celebrity

The Jungian psychological symbolism of these three attacks are relatively obvious, and strikingly ominous, for anyone looking for them. The incident that kicked off this horrific four days in Orlando was the senseless murder of Christina Grimmie. Grimmie had obtained a modicum of fame being a contestant on the show The Voice. Grimmie is symbolic of one of the new and powerful American religions…the religion of fame and celebrity. The talented and ambitious Grimmie was trying to climb up the ladder of success to become one of those people who are the Greek gods (immortal myths) of our time…the famous. All religions sell and profess "the light", but that light brings with it the shadow.  That which is demonized by a culture or religion, becomes the shadow of that culture or religion. The shadow of the old religions, Christianity, Islam and Judaism, is usually sex. See the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church as a prime example of the repressed shadow asserting itself in distorted ways. The shadow of the new American religion of celebrity is desperation and delusions of grandeur.

The fan who shot and killed Christina Grimmie was the vehicle for the shadow of the religion of fame and celebrity to assert itself. He stalked and then killed Grimmie, and then himself, as a sacrifice to this new religion. Without that level of crazed fanaticism, which is a toxic combination of desperation and delusion, the new religion of celebrity would hold no psychological power over the masses. Good can only function in opposition to evil…the famous can only be famous if there are masses of anonymous people yearning to be just like them. The brighter the light, the darker the shadow, and in this case, the darker the shadow the brighter the light. Christina Grimmie was, like more and more people in our culture, consciously acting upon the siren call of fame and celebrity, her killer, like many of the unwashed and un-famous masses, was unconsciously acting upon the siren call of fame and celebrity's shadow. In terms of the new religion of fame and celebrity and its psychology…meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

The Old vs The New

Which brings us to Omar Mateen, the man who slaughtered 49 people at the gay nightclub Pulse on June 11. Mateen, like Grimmie's killer, was playing a part in a much wider mythological struggle than just his own psychological torment. Mateen, by all accounts a closeted homosexual, was a foot soldier in the battle between the old religion and the new. The old religion, in this case Islam, which like Christianity and Judaism before it has sex as its shadow, is not going quietly into the goodnight of its evolutionary oblivion. The religion it is battling was born of its own shadow, that religion is the religion of Libertinism. Mateen was a man torn between the new religion, Libertinism, and the old religion, Islam. Mateen's biology, sexuality and western culture pulled him to the church of Libertinism, and yet his family, tradition and heritage pulled him towards Islam. The poor people slaughtered in Orlando by Mateen are just collateral damage in the war raging between the new and old religions and in his own psyche. Mateen was unconsciously mugged by not only the shadow of one religion but two. The psychological shadow of Libertinism caused him to yearn for the clarity and moral purity being offered by the old religion of Islam, while the the shadow of Islam caused him to act out his repressed sexuality and deem it "deviant", which made him hate himself for his biological urges, and then project that hate on to others who seemingly had no internal struggle over their choice of Libertinism.

Mateen's psychological (and sexual) struggle is the same struggle as the entire culture and its old religions of Islam/Judaism/Christianity. The old religion of Islam/Judaism/Christianity is trying to hold back the tide of human biological urges as well as the new religion, Libertinism, which celebrates them. All the laws, violence and intimidation in the world cannot stop what has started, namely, the decay and collapse of the old order and its religions and the rise of the new order and its religions. There is no moral judgement to be made for or against either side, only the admission of this psychological reality.

The Leviathan

And then there is the horrific tragedy of Lane Graves, the little boy snatched by a gator and killed in a Disney resort lake. Graves is symbolic of the innocent, the pure and the good. The little boy joyously playing in shallow waters with his father and then a beast rises up from the depths to snuff out his life. 

An innocent little boy killed by a beast from the depths is symbolic of the entire series of killings in Orlando that week. From the depths of the collective unconscious and the individual unconscious of the killers, a Leviathan, like that shown to Job in a vision in the Book of Job, born of the shadow of God, rose up to snuff out innocent life in an attempt to make its unconscious aspects conscious. In Jungian psychology, water is symbolic of the unconscious, and this story is about more than the Graves family tragedy, but about the beast lurking in our collective unconscious that is desperate to be made conscious and which will kill as many innocents as it can in order to bring about that consciousness. This primal, primitive unconscious energy is fighting for its survival and will do anything to stay alive (become conscious).

As a friend of mine (and a Jungian analyst) The Big Falconer, said to me recently, "the unconscious, the Self, the dark side of the God-image, doesn't care how many millions of people or how much of life is killed in the quest to become conscious…." And the horrors of Orlando are proof of that.

The Happiest Place on Earth

The fact that this horrific drama played out in Orlando, the theme park capital of the world, otherwise known as "The Happiest Place on Earth" is also of great symbolic meaning. Disney is a religion unto itself. The religion of Disney, is a uniquely American religion that sells an eternal childhood and all the innocence that comes with it. This Disney religion is puritanical, and like its sister religion of Celebrity and Fame, is also delusional and grandiose. The Disney religion ignores the darker parts of reality, namely, the impulses and instincts toward sex, violence and death. Those things, sex, violence, and death, were what came out of the shadows and into the light that bloody weekend in Orlando. The shadow will not be denied. You ignore it at your own peril. As the saying goes, "Do you believe in the Devil? You should, he believes in you."

Like Disney, the American culture has turned into an adolescent theme park and maintains the delusion of being the "happiest place on earth". Disney is as American as it gets, and to have this bloodshed on its doorstep is no "coincidence". The veil of Disney (childhood)/American (adolescence) delusion and illusion is not just being pulled back, it is being violently shredded. The scales won't gently fall from our eyes, but will be forcibly torn away. An innocent little boy, a perfect symbol for the religion of Disney (childhood), was devoured by what that delusional and illusional religion ignores, namely death, which took the form of a primitive shadow beast (reptilian instincts/alligator).

"Many miles away something crawls from the slime, at the bottom of a dark, Scottish Lake" - The Police, lyrics from the song Synchronicity II, off of the album Synchronicity

The fact that the alligator, the symbol of the lizard/reptilian brain, the most archaic part of the psyche, the home of the unconscious drives of sex, violence and fear, was lurking just below the surface of the delusional Disney (childhood)/American (adolescence) waters is striking. This primal beast, this alligator/dragon/Grendel is lurking in the depths and the darkness of America and the world, and it is hungry. The beast's hunger is for life, for consciousness, for survival. It devoured an innocent little boy (childhood) that night, but it also slaughtered an aspiring singer and 49 other people (eternal adolescence) the previous two nights. This Leviathan has crawled out of the primordial ooze of our collective unconscious and is determined to make itself known and to be made wholly conscious. 

The news is currently filled with stories of the primitive, the primal and the wild lashing out at mankind. In Florida, Gators found with human bodies in their jaws, or taking bites out of unsuspecting people. Bears, awaking from their hibernation to devour humans in Japan or attack runners in New Mexico. Mountain lions attacking young children as they play in their back yard. While on the surface these stories reek of the vacuousness of our media, mythologically, psychologically and symbolically they are harbingers of the darkness, like a bear awoken from its slumber, that is dwelling in our collective unconscious, lurking just beneath the surface of our consciousness. These stories are reminiscent of the plethora of shark attack stories in the summer before the 9-11 attack. That summer was deemed the summer of the shark, and if anyone had been paying attention, those shark stories forewarned us not of more shark attacks, but of something much more sinister stalking humanity from the depths and the shadows of our collective unconscious.

The death and destruction played out over those four days on the stage of Orlando, the "Happiest Place on Earth", is like a mini-drama of all mankind and the collective unconscious. The attacks in the "Happiest Place on Earth" are the eyes and nostrils of a gator/dragon/Grendel just breaking above the surface waters of our consciousness, that portends an ominous and powerful  dark force just beneath the surface of our awareness, that is ascending from the depths to descend upon our world.

What Rough Beast?

As W.B. Yeats wrote in his poem "The Second Coming"...

Turning and turning in the widening gyre

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

"The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere", even, as we recently learned, at the "Happiest Place on Earth". "The Ceremony of innocence is drowned" like the innocent Lane Graves drowned underneath those blood dimmed tides of the Leviathan's lair. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity", does this line not speak prophetically to the time in which we live today?

The rest of Yeat's poem is as follows...

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again; but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Yeats asks the question, "what rough beast, it's hour come round at last, slouches toward Bethlehem to be born?" That rough Beast is now born, risen to life in the bloody waters of Orlando, and now, with its hour upon us, slouches its way to prominence and power in our world. This Leviathan is loosed upon us, and will gorge itself upon our ignorance and unconsciousness. There is a very dark age quickly descending upon us all and it will obliterate man's world and try men's souls. The Beast has been unchained…and it is desperate to feed, and we are all on the menu. This is just the beginning of the long descent into darkness…and we are not all going to survive to make it into the light.

Related Article - The Way of the Gun : Meditations on America and Guns

Recommended Reading for anyone interested in learning more about Jungian psychology and the Shadow -  Answer to Job by C.G. Jung, Archetype of the Apocalypse by Edward Edinger, Owning Your Own Shadow : Understanding the Dark Side of the Psyche by Robert A. Johnson.

 

©2016