Giant Monster Therapy

In case you missed it, the sports event of the century just occurred. Two giant, multi ton, 15 foot tall robots just went head to head in a steel crushing, sparks flying, An event two years in the making between the US and Japan. It’s been a hype up for so long with smack talk, behind the scenes of the building of these ten ton goliaths, and teasers of a mystery location.

You can check out the fight here, but afterwards it made me think of the current social climate in the United States. I mean, when you hear stone cutting chainsaw you think of international geopolitics and mass psychology, right? Now before you click away let me unpack this.

We all know this fella right?

Well he’s a prime example of a very interesting reaction that I think has resurfaced in the past decade. When we feel helpless, we love giant monster movies. They give us a sense of equilibrium. We watch the giant monster rise up, born from our mistakes to wreak havoc and deliver painful consequences, but at the same time we see the panic, terror, and confusion at the unexpected force of god that bears down on them and devastates. The unstoppable force meeting the easily movable object.

Post WW II Japan was trying to cope with the horror of two nuclear detonations, in two of their largest cities. The utter destruction of the event, in combination with the a standing military US presence, and the trials of a long and bloody war left an entire country traumatized. Godzilla was a way to acknowledge and deal with some of those fears, in an easier and less direct way. It brought a certain degree of closure.

From 2000 to 2009, there were only two giant monster, blockbuster films: The Mist and Cloverfield. 2010-2017 have had seven with two more already planned for 2018 and 2019. Super 8, Pacific Rim, Godzilla, Jurassic World, Kong Skull Island, Collosal, Clash of the Titans. Then Pacific Rim 2 and Godzilla 2 are arriving in the next two years. And possibly more on the way?

Why the sudden spike then? We’re scared. Isis, Political Upheaval, Protests, War after war in the Middle East, disconnect from those around us. And we’re going back to our old friends the monster movies. They actually help. You leave a monster movie, oftentimes feeling great. The monster was vanquished, we got a bright sunrise shot in the film, and maybe a family reunites. Or maybe the monster is destroyed but at what cost? Most of our characters dead, our small corner of the world destroyed, and a bleak future of long years of rebuilding.

Whichever ending, we can either be given hope, or empathize with the characters and know exactly where they’re at. Maybe not at as elegantly as high cinema, but in a way that does the job we need it to. We get to surrender ourselves over to the monster, and we get to watch it play out to someone else, away from us and our own problems. Sometimes, you just need a giant monster, and another giant robot to save the day.

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