Godzilla and Global Anxiety from Hiroshima to COVID-19​

Title: 1415 | Godzilla and Global Anxiety from Hiroshima to COVID-19​
Area: Northeast Asia
Stream: Sociology
Presentation Type: Roundtable
Shunya Yoshimi, The University of Tokyo, Japan
William Tsutsui, Hendrix College, United States
Alisa Freedman, University of Oregon, United States


Since Godzilla's first appearance in the 1954 classic Gojira, the King of the Monsters has become a cinematic icon and a globally recognized symbol of Japan. Born of American H-bomb testing in the South Pacific, Godzilla tapped into Japanese audiences’ traumatic memories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as international fears of the Cold War nuclear apocalypse. The 32 films of the Godzilla franchise have gone on to address some of the most profound challenges in the postwar world, from environmental degradation and failures of political leadership to the impact of natural disasters and climate change.

This panel discussion featuring three experts on Japanese society and popular culture will consider what a giant, fire-breathing movie monster can tell us about the Japanese experience and global anxieties from the dawn of the atomic age through the COVID-19 pandemic. The wide-ranging conversation will provide insights from the Godzilla films on topics including resilience in the face of catastrophe, attitudes toward science and authority, and the ways we all address our fears of invisible threats, radioactive or viral.

This panel is on Friday - Session Morning - Main Room

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