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Illustration by Jeremy Russell

G Spotted

Godzilla 2000 vs. Windows 2000

By Annalee Newitz

I JUST SAW Godzilla 2000, the cheesy new Godzilla flick from Japan, in the best possible way: sitting in a theater packed with geeky fans who went into a veritable frenzy when the Big G opened its eyes and stomped into action, quickly pummeling its new evil enemy, Orga. Unlike the misguided U.S. movie Godzilla, whose monster was beautifully rendered right down to its slick, digitized sinews, this film's radiation-saturated dinosaur was obviously a person in a rubber suit. You could even see the weird crease where someone had jammed G's toothy head onto his bulky body.

Although Godzilla is one of the most ubiquitous faces in any given computer-populated environment (think of all the Godzilla mugs, posters, blowup dolls, plastic figurines, desktop patterns, mouse pads, etc. you've seen in people's cubicles), it's a mystery why such a low-tech beast is practically the mascot for a high-tech world. The Big G is the quintessential bad special effect; it's forever mauling nice scientists; and--let's be honest here--Godzilla doesn't even have a gender. Hardly the beast you'd expect to inspire a generation of cyberboys raised on LucasArts effects. Nevertheless, it's far more popular among geeks than the hypermasculine, computer-animated thing in Predator.

So I started chatting with some friends about the true nature of Godzilla. At first, we deduced that the Big G appealed to us because it represented the ultimate internal conflict; after all, our fire-breathing hero is constantly torn between the urge to defend Japan and the urge to just blow the shit out of Tokyo for the hell of it. Could this be geek conflict writ large? Many of us are, after all, struggling to be good coders/designers/content-makers, and must bury our not-so-hidden desires to hack into our companies' machines and mess with irritating databases, read people's email, or just wreak havoc generally.

At that point, our conversation veered into decidedly queer territory when we considered Godzilla's gender issues. I mean, in recent movies the Big G is always sending distress signals to cute little psychic girls who squeal, "Godzilla is feeling pain! Oh no!" I'm sorry, but that's just plain girly of Godzilla. Our foofy monster has also had at least two babies, and yet at the same time the Big G is burly and butch, shooting fire everywhere and stomping around just like some super-manly Sumo wrestler. Is Godzilla the world's first tranny monster? We wondered about this as we recollected Godzilla getting turned into a giant rose in Godzilla vs. Biollante, then marveled at the big "oral" scene in Godzilla 2000 where Orga tries to swallow G whole. As Godzilla's head disappears down Orga's pink throat, Orga begins to grow giant, erect spikes. Um, whatever. Possibly this avenue of inquiry explains very little about Godzilla's appeal to the geek imagination.

But then I hit on it. The whole Godzilla thing is all about Microsoft. The sheer insanity and conspiracy-
theory nature of this idea really appealed to me, although nobody else seemed nearly as excited by it as I was. Nothing new there, really. Here's how it works, kids: Godzilla 2000 is like a little chunk of cultural propaganda, sent to the U.S. to teach us about the evils of Windows 2000. Just bear with me on this one. Like Microsoft, Godzilla is always conflicted about whether to destroy Japan or work with it. Then there's the whole dinosaur connection, with Windows 2000 as a clunky, lumbering dinosaur who is always tripping over stuff and blowing shit up.

And here's the clincher. At the end of Godzilla 2000 (spoilers ahead, friends), the dopey guy from the "Godzilla Prediction Network" tells us, "There's a little bit of Godzilla in all of us." Certainly, despite all efforts to declare Microsoft a monopoly and stop it, there's a little bit of Windows 2000 in all of us too. Even if you're a diehard Linux-oid, your OS has to do a little bit of Microsofting--have a GUI, a word processor--in order to placate a world used to Windows.

Finally, it's impossible to enumerate all the meanings Godzilla might have for the atomic information age, but one thing is for sure: we love the Big G because it's so touchingly fake, so clearly propelled by a human.

Whatever Godzilla means, it's a human meaning. You can't truly say the same thing about Windows. That may be a cheap shot, but as Godzilla teaches us, cheapness is goodness.


Annalee Newitz is a surly media nerd whose favorite monster is Hedorah, the Smog Monster. Contact her at gamara@techsploitation.com.

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From the August 24-30. 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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