Why Theme Matters in Writing

This past summer, I went to the movie theater and watched Ant-Man and the Wasp. I remember thinking that it was a fun way to pass two hours. It came out in July – only three months ago – yet ask me to remember anything else about it and I’d have to think for a minute. I know there was action and cool scenes of things changing sizes…but as to what actually happened – it’s a bit of a blank. Again, it’s only been three months. Ant-Man and the Wasp is a terrific example of what happens when stories lacking theme, or execute that theme in a really superficial way.

Continue reading Why Theme Matters in Writing

Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster or How Godzilla Became the Good Guy

I had some debate this morning as to what post to write. Should I write the Godzilla-related post that I had planned or should I instead pen a piece about the Montreal Canadiens, and the glorious level of hypocrisy they set for the rest of the NHL? As writing about the Canadiens now could be seen as a “sore-loser” move (seriously, the Bruins would have lost to any quality team… doesn’t matter who you’re playing when you can’t pass and you can’t shoot), I will put it off for a later date, simply finishing with: go Rangers. Anyway, now that I got that out of the way, let’s get back to Godzilla.

The Montreal Canadien version of Godzilla: smaller, quicker, can't take a shot... but probably could still wreck Boston if none of the city's military was working.
The Montreal Canadien version of Godzilla: smaller, quicker, can’t take a hit… but probably could still wreck Boston if none of the city’s military was working.

As has been stated before in other posts, Godzilla began his creation as an antagonistic force. He terrorized Tokyo and ruined lives. An unstoppable metaphor for the nuclear holocaust that was visited upon Japan at the end of World War II, Godzilla was nothing less than terrifying in his first appearance and played the villain in the following three movies. Yet as most out there already know, Godzilla is famous for more than just being a nuclear metaphor. In many of his films (particularly in his first series of movies, the Showa Era 1954-1975), Godzilla is the hero. The brave monster fighting for humanity against other threats. It should be noted that it was not simply the arrival of these ‘other threats’ that turned Godzilla into the good guy. In his three films after the original, Godzilla faced off against Anguirus, Mohtra, and even King Kong. In all of those movies: Godzilla was the bad guy.

King Kong was seen as the underdog of the fight while Godzilla was depicted as a stupid bully.
King Kong was seen as the underdog of the fight while Godzilla was depicted as a stupid bully.

It wasn’t until 1964, in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, that Godzilla turned protagonist. For the record, this is not one of the better Godzilla films. It is not horrible, but it is far from the most entertaining. Essentially, it feels like a prototype for the far superior Invasion of Astro-Monster that would be released in the next year. Nevertheless, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster was the film that introduced Godzilla to traditional, 1960s science fiction themes: namely, aliens. Alongside this introduction to beings from outer space came the unveiling of Godzilla’s greatest nemesis, King Ghidorah (pronounced GE-door-ah or Gi-dora, depending on the movie).

With three, lightning-shooting heads and the ability to fly, Ghidorah was a powerful enemy.
With three, lightning-shooting heads and the ability to fly, Ghidorah was a powerful enemy.

King Ghidorah comes from an unspecified area of space to destroy the world. According to the plot of the film, Venus was once a nice place to live before Ghiodrah got a hold of it. At this point of the movie, Godzilla is still the bad guy. He and Rodan (Row-dan) have been fighting and destroying cities. Mothra shows up to convince the two to put aside their differences and save the Earth. Godzilla and Rodan refuse and it isn’t until they watch Mothra fight Ghidorah alone that the two monsters put aside their differences to stop the evil Ghidorah.

How is that communication-heavy scene of monster interaction accomplished? Quite well actually, thanks to the help of Mothra’s two fairy girls (don’t ask), the Shobijin (I have no idea how to pronounce it). Apparently, Mothra’s priestesses speak very good monster-ese. Regardless, the scene showcases and in-depth look into Godzilla’s psyche. He doesn’t hate people per say… he just doesn’t think much of humanity’s greatest achievements. By giving Godzilla a less pure evil personality, the film is able to transition him to a creature that can (and does) decide to fight for good. By creating Ghidorah as a nemesis, the series insures that there is usually a creature on screen that is far more evil than Godzilla.

Does any of it make sense: no. Does it work: sure.
Does any of it make sense: no. Does it work: sure.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Godzilla film series is its commentary on culture. I am not only referring to the original here, but to the entire series. Godzilla can be seen as an allegory to more than just the atomic bombings, he can also be seen as America. Godzilla’s relationship with Japan begins as one of oppression but transforms into a mutually beneficial arrangement. This reflects Japan and the United States changing relationship as the two grew economically closer.

For Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster in particular, Mothra can be seen as Japan: a smaller, weaker force that nevertheless strides for good. Godzilla and Rodan represent America, larger and more powerful but currently indifferent to the plight of the Japanese people. Ghidorah, well that’s easy. This movie was made in the sixties and deals with a threat from outer space. What space-racing nation was challenging the U.S. and its allies at that particular time?

Ghidorah would return many times, including to fight in Destroy All Monsters. Don't ask me for allegory on that one.
Ghidorah would return many times, including to fight in Destroy All Monsters. Don’t ask me for allegory on that one.

Is the analogy 100% proof, no but it does highlight that there was more to some (definitely not all) of these movies than just people in suits beating each other up. Transitioning Godzilla into a good guy reflected a changing attitude in Japan. It wouldn’t be until 1984, with a desire to return to the dark tone of the original, that Japan would abandon the benevolent image of Godzilla. He would return to good guy status in later films (notably Godzilla: Final Wars) and it is said that the Big G even sports several shades of hero in the upcoming Gareth Edwards movie.

The review for said film will be going live tonight at midnight, I hope you will check it out.

Silly Things Written on the Internet or Frozen is NOT About Gay Marriage (Sorry)

The internet really is a wonderful place. It is an actual fact that, with the internet, all the knowledge in the world is at your fingertips (what does that say about you being here?). People use the internet for a variety of reasons: knowledge, pleasure, and voice being among the top three. In this article, I will focus on the third: voice. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, that is a fact. That said, not every opinion is valid, and no – acting on non-valid opinions is not okay (e.g. – let’s say a father decides his kids shouldn’t eat more than once a week, that is his opinion and he is a monster). There is nothing wrong with sharing ideas or talking things out, it is how the mind stays active.
All of that said: I think that this article is pretty silly, and not well-thought out at all. For the record, I do not think that Willie Muse is a stupid person or an idiot in any way… but there are a few flaws in his argument. For those out there too lazy to click on the link, first off: really? Second, Muse is arguing that last year’s Disney film, Frozen, is an allegory supporting gay marriage. His argument hinges on three parts: 1) Elsa Represents Gay People; 2)The Film Shows Flaws of Traditional Marriage; 3)Alternate Family Structures (are) Very Favorably Presented. Three points… let me rebuttal.

To start: this.
To start: this.

1) I will acknowledge that there are certain parallels between Elsa and a repressed gay adolescent. That said, note how I had to use the adjective ‘repressed’ to make the comparison work? If that gay adolescent grows up in an open and accepting household, then this whole comparison goes out the window. Generally, if one detail dislodges an argument: it’s not a great argument. Ignoring Elsa’s repression to say “that’s what being gay is like” can be insulting to all the other forms of repression that are out there. By the logic used, I can also say that Remy from Ratatouille represents gay people. I suppose he kinda does……. Maybe? That would ignore the much larger message though in favor of a smaller perspective. Remy, for instance, is dealing with issues of identity not connected to sexuality but rather with artistic freedom vs. social expectation. People are much more complicated than just their sexuality but to diminish Elsa’s real problem is too miss a good chunk of the movie: ELSA HAS ABUSIVE PARENTS. Seriously, she is living with people who (while not being evil) are incapable of accepting Elsa for who she is. Elsa could represent any child was is abused for being different (whether that difference is sexual, medical, religious, or countless others). Elsa could be a representation of someone with severe anxiety issues who is afraid to leave her home or be herself around anyone until one day she just LETS IT GO and realizes that living paralyzed with fear isn’t a way to live… wait. See, while saying that Elsa represents gay people isn’t the most ridiculous thing, it isn’t a great building block for a strong argument.

You don't have to be gay to suffer through repression and anxiety about who you are.
You don’t have to be gay to suffer through repression and anxiety about who you are.

2) NO. This is the one I take the most issue with. Prince Hans and Anna do not represent “traditional marriage” at all. They represent the fairy tale notion of one-look true-love destined to be together trope of a large portion of folklore (and early Disney animated features). The only “traditional” element of this relationship is that it involves a man and a woman. Also, while it is true that, in medieval times, marriage was often a political move, Hans does take it a couple steps past political takeover and into full-blown-I-Would-Run-Over-Your-Dog-Too-If-I-Could evil mode (I’ve already written about this in an earlier post). So the film really isn’t showing the flaws of traditional marriage, it is showcasing the obvious flaw of fairy tale marriages: namely don’t marry someone you just met (DUH). For the record, it would be much more like a “traditional marriage” if Hans and Anna were being forced into it (similar to the plot of Brave) but, just the fact that it is Anna’s choice… women didn’t make choices like that back then.

Man, the Lion King has some real bad things to say about "traditional" uncle-nephew relationships.
Man, the Lion King has some real bad things to say about “traditional” uncle-nephew relationships.

3) I don’t really feel that the trolls are an alternate family structure. They are not Kristoff’s real parents, sure, but that only makes them his ADOPTIVE parents. While I’m no expert on troll physiology (nor do I want to be), there appear to be male and female trolls present in the group. Grandparents, parents, kids: all age tiers are present. Looks like one giant, loving family all living together. Is it superior to Elsa’s and Anna’s parents: absolutely. Funny how having love and supportiveness in a family dynamic will do that. Yeah though, how are they really different from Aunt May and Uncle Ben in the Spider-Man universe? Just because parents adopt children doesn’t make it “an alternate family structure.” If anything (and I acknowledge this is a stretch), the argument could be made that Anna, Elsa, and Olaf represent the alternate family structure… and don’t show it favorably. Two women (sisters no less) bringing life to a snowman through some form of “unnatural” magic, and the resulting creation has no social awareness and just wishes (unconsciously) for quick death at  the change of seasons. For the record, I don’t think this is a serious message to be taken from the movie, I’m just saying it to make a point.

Look at how confused he is! This is what happens when a snowman has two mommies!
Look at how confused he is! This is what happens when a snowman has two mommies!

Frozen has received a lot of attention, maybe more than it deserves. There can be no question, however, that it is a culturally significant film. A lot of analysis has been, and will be applied to this movie. Some of it will be really insightful and shed lead on why this film had the impact that it did. Some of it… will just be silly.

All joking aside, I may be crazy to say that Frozen is a movie about the power of family love and acceptance and the relationship of two sisters. I could be crazy for thinking this.
All joking aside, I may be crazy to say that Frozen is a movie about the power of  love and acceptance, and the relationship of two sisters. I could be crazy for thinking this.