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Monday, June 9, 2014

Texas' loss is a Godzilla-sized gain for Arkansas

Posted By on Mon, Jun 9, 2014 at 10:48 AM

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The Dallas Morning News has a feature today Hendrix College's new president,William Tsutsui. It notes his recent departure as dean at SMU because of a sideline interest in a subject currently playing on the big screen — Godzilla. The headline:

SMU has monstrous shoes to fill as Godzilla expert departs

It has been reported before that Tsutsui's credentials included a book, "Godzilla on My Mind: 50 years of the King of Monsters." But a new film version and an article he's written on it are the basis for the latest article.

Tsutsui grew up in Texas. The Morning News writes that, with his Asian heritage, he sometimes felt out of place but "found cultural valdity" in Godzilla, which led to deep study of the subject. The monster was created for a 1954 film rooted in nuclear testing on the Bikini atoll. It evoked the nuclear horrors of World War II for Japanese people. Says the Morning News:

The latest film absolves America of responsibility, recasting those Pacific blasts as U.S. attempts to destroy the monster, and in fact turns Godzilla into an American hero with Japan as a minor footnote.

“Hollywood has managed to make Godzilla completely, and effectively, reflect its own prejudices,” he wrote in Foreign Affairs. “Japan is invisible, the United States is pure and innocent, and the monster (despite, technically, being an undocumented alien) is symbolically transformed into an American patriot.”

But while purists might find more fault, he said, “for me, it’s not a big ethical concern. It’s a guy in a rubber suit, after all.”

Tsutsui told the newsaper he generally liked the new Godzilla despite Americanization.

“That’s what it has to do to be successful now,” he said. “In many ways, the Japanese Godzilla has run its course. It needed some creative rethinking.”

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