Well, if anyone has been reading in another topic, I am half way there in suceeding. Now is a rather lengthy explanation with added details on the newest venture of my Operation, OPERATION GOJIRA. Read here!
In the middle of 2006, accouple of UCLA students decided to make a 4 week class on the subject of daikaiju. This paper is exactly the opposite of that, while still trying to incorporate Gojira into a school function. But now, this may sound taboo. Why would a school be interested into teaching 8th graders about Gojira? I had this crazy hair brained scheme since in 7th and 8th grade both cover WWII, why not show Gojira? It offers a good, strong allegorical view of the war from something rarely taught to American students: the Japanese POV of the war. It was an unique chance for teachers to teach their pupils something rarely taught, giving this operation some academic appeal. But also, students need to be exposed to not so much Gojira, but the knowledge that the film, and only Gojira specifically, possesses the kind of stuff I am wanting the students to be exposed to. I actually attempted this twice - once over an 8 hour period and once over a five day period. This is the chronology of the latter one, the five day one, and what results I received.
First, before I actually commissioned with the plan, I help a poll at kaijuphile.com/forums and monsterland forums. The message I left on each forum was:
"Quite recently, in fact today, the 8th grade (that is including me) saw a movie, The Day After Tomorrow. Why? Because the teachers claim it has scientific value. Out of this, all Thursday, I tried by best to persuade them into showing them another film: the Japanese Gojira. I made a Good speech comparing the two films, including quotes from the Kalat text. Sadly, they said if they only had time to see the film, they would surely over any circumstances choose it over "The Day After Tomorrow". But plans are being made on later on the year to show the film, some time in February, most probably the 27th.
My question to you: What is your opinion of having 8th graders watch Gojira and do an 1 hour 40 minute debate on the film and it's 3 essential conflicts among students and teachers? "
I shall now choose excerpts from each forums responce. One is from a Packmule and the other one from Keith Aiken, famous for contributing to the Classic Media discs, the BFI Gojira DVD release and last but not least the website that replaced Henshin!Online and monsterzero.us, scifijapan.com.
Responce from Packmule:
"Respectfully, my opinion is that these 8th graders would be better off studying grammar, syntax, world history, or any other basic core elements of an 8th grade curriculum. I realize this answer may not be to your liking, G2K, but I believe education should be confined to the basics: math, science, social studies, English and writing, PE(Physical Education) and perhaps with a dash of current events thrown in as well. The fundamentals, G2K. That's what's important. When it comes to education, G2K, I am, like most other aspects of life, a hard *** who believes in sticking to the fundamentals. To me allowing students in a middle school to watch a science fiction film about a 165 foot tall monster blasting Tokyo, Japan to bits is just a 90 minute break from schoolwork in disguise.
Responce from Keith Aiken:
"I think this is a great idea because GOJIRA does have social and historical significance."
So we see that we got two diffrent answers, with Packmule being more conservative of old traditions and Keith actually giving a reason why to show the film, making it seem that he nods a yes to showing the film in schools. Turns out, the situation that I described in the paragraph I wrote at each forum was very true (although instead of The Day After Tomorrow being shown, Flyboys was shown) and it was the spark that made me get the idea, since I was outraged that my science teacher actually thought that the film "The Day After Tomorrow" had scientific value. So, hiding under the blanket of wanting to better the school, I recommended to the Dean of Admissions, the Principal, and the head teacher of the 8th grade about the film. This was the eight hour advent. Turns out that they gave me an only-if responce. I first pitched the film and the thing was that it was too much on short notice. Other than that, they were going to go great with it. I was disappointed to say the least, to say the very least. But, I waited a month and a half to recommend it again. Instead of going to the leaders of the school, I tried an alternate approach of indirectly going to the counselor. What I mean by indirectly here is that I was not even thinking of the idea when I was called to the office because I got a low C average in Mathematics. But, as always, I am a good talker. I talk straight but I can turn the topic from grades to politics. And it was when me and my counselor did twenty minutes of talking politics that I finally had the lightbulb shine to resurrect operation Gojira. Here is the day by day break down of the five day plan:
Day 1 - recommendation established
Day 2 - given counselor book containing essay, "Godzilla's Footprint" by Steve Ryfle
Day 3 - nothing happens, counselor tries to read it over the weekend, I ponder and make plans for the operation including data that the film could be shown given the curriculum as of the present date
Day 4 - counselor reads, takes notes, confronts principle without my know how
Day 5 - project failure
Consequently ,yes, I failed. And I was expecting it. But the interesting part of the whole operation is the responce I got. Last time, I got an only-if answer, but now I got some information formed by someone who works for a school's evaluation. And this is interested by the fact that this kind of thing has not been documented for studied upon. Now, first thing to look upon is how did I introduce Gojira to the school staff member? I gave her the usual mumbo jumbo that everyone knows about Godzilla - all the allegorical meaning and emotion that is in the film. And I backed that up with the Ryfle essay (not text, since I do not own JAPAN'S FAMORITE MON-STAR). Now, this is alittle diffrent than my introduction that I gave the first time. But it was going to be diffrent which ever way you would have thought about it. I was not comparring films this time. Last time, I was comparing Gojira to The Day After Tomorrow. Now, I am not. So this makes my job harder in trying to persuade my counselor into showing the film for it's positives. But it was not as hard as it could have been since I had the Ryfle essay with me (the first time I had the Kalat text, which I recited excepts of including some stuff that was actually pertaining to The Return of Godzilla.)
Afterward I waited accouple of days for the counselor to read the essay. And I pondered on stuff. I had dates set up, and I also started thinking about worksheets for students and stuff since seeing Gojira is to be an educational experience. The Monday I got back, me and the counselor has a long talk about the stuff. First, I learned that my counselor is republican. I am more of an independent, I go with the person I agree with most. Second, she does not believe in movies as art, more like cash cows (Goodbye Godfather, Scarface, and Pulp Fiction). And through this, we debated. Other points were brought up, such as the film may have some strewed facts (I doubt it) and too much Japanese POV, and that teachers teach subjects without personal interest getting involved (first, that is the valuable part of the film and two, what they teach us in school is the American POV. How do I know? People say Pearl Harbor is bad. People think that it was a bad move in Japan's part. It was actually the smartest move in Japan's POV. Since they bombed America, America bombed Japan and since America has morals, America had to rebuild Japan, unwillingly giving them the key to become technological masters and the concern that Godzilla would be cheered on by students during the film would not happen. Godzilla is not a popular topic in my school plus the film does not have the same fun value as he American counterpart Godzilla King of the Monsters, which this comment actually is a reuse of a comment from the Ryfle Essay. But it failed because personal views got in the way of my counselor's judgement. She thought it would be endangering to the student's learning and POV of the war (but who are we to tell people what to think or do?). So it was a flat out no. Sadly, I should have appealed to the principal myself. Sad I didn't, a bad state of judgement by me in hind sight.
But that wasn't the end of it. All I have done is get my principal, counselor, math teacher, and vice principal's opinion. I had to go onto the street, as you would say, with Operation Gojira to get the fallowing questions answered: 1.) What would my teachers think of this and 2.) How would the students think of this. This is a poll I took, with all people knowing that their responses are to be published in G-FAN. So for two days, I just went around having people either write down testimony or answer to a poll. First, lets talk teachers. I did not want to make it look like a monster movie is educational. So I approached them with what Gojira is. This is the question on the paper the poll I took is on: "Do you think a look into the Japanese side of post WWII would be good for school? Good for learning more about WWII?" That is what Gojira really is anyway. My Language Arts teacher and Social Studies teacher agreed. My Science teacher was unable to respond due to baby issues (she has a baby). But the two teachers I did get a rise out of had their own reasons for saying yes. My language arts teacher said yes but sadly we live under a mandate of a strict curriculum. While that may be true I would like to know why we have movie days after finals. Not to mention it would go great with the Holocaust lessons we have been doing. And even more so than that, Gojira shows a side of Post WWII that is rarely taught in schools, since people for some reason always kept it between America and Germany. However, my Social Studies teacher was all for it, for the same reasons that knocked down my Language Arts teacher's comments. Because it (what Gojira teaches) is right after the Holocaust.
Nevertheless with students, I was shocked. While I am the only true Godzilla fan at my school I had one of my friends, who had never known I am a Goji fan, give testimony on that he knows about Godzilla. This is why my friend, who shall go nameless, wrote:
"Godzilla was a prehistoric creature that was awoken by the H-Bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Her powers are mainly radioactive. Mecha-Godzilla was made to fight Godzilla (but failed (lol) no0bs). In later movies Godzilla's spines on it's back glowed. The original color was white-blue-red in that order. There have been about 13 Godzilla movies. Because of her small arms, she mainly uses her tail. The actual creature she was based on was a t-rex/dragon. Most Godzilla movies use voice overs. She had a kid. And she died three times. In the original Godzilla there was a guy in the outfit (the guy liked metal music)."
I am sorry you who read this article had to read that. But not only is it a testimony of how bad Godzilla's rep in the US is, but it shows that atleast they have alittle bit of understanding of Godzilla. My friend was also asked, "What if we watched a Godzilla film in class?". He responded:
"To answer your question, it would be a great experience to learn about Japanese filming techniques."
While I do think his knowledge on Godzilla is flawed to the tenth power, there is no denying that he had a good response to the question of seeing a Godzilla film in class! Eiji Tsuburaya would be proud! But my point stands that the teachers and students would like it.
Finally in all cases what I said two paragraphs before, it was the counselor's personal opinion that got in the way. But I think this: Gojira, if given the chance, is exactly what Shinoda said about Godzilla. "He's a gold mine of knowledge." And sadly because of personal opinion over professional opinion got into the way, Gojira and it's greatness will never see the light of day in a class room. Simple as that. And it really breaks my heart. Kids can see the films they show at school every day. But not Gojira. Gojira is such a rarity. I once read a hypothesis that stated that there are enough Godzilla fans in the WORLD that it would fill only Manhattan. Star Wars fans would fill up Alaska. And nine times out of then, thiese children will never be exposed to Godzilla, rather the less his truest form, Gojira. Would I do it again? Yes. I would try to find out days which my grade is to watch a movie and I will try to find out another strategy (most likely going back onto the street with it then up) and try to get the film shown again. However, I will wait till high school when I can start out fresh again since I would not know the teachers or the staff. But now time to ask yourself: does Gojira have any educational value and what can you do to use it? I simply failed but using this paper, you can try to, with alittle bit more luck than I get Gojira to be not just a groundbreaking film, not just a classic film, not just a famous film that has won awards, but a film that can teach generation after generation what the film is a reflection and social commentary about: post war Japan and Nature's vengeance on us.
Back in and around December 2008, I wrote and published an article on my quest: having Gojira shown at my school. What became a mere thing which I wanted to substitute my school showing THE DAY AFTER TOMMAROW became a goal in which I wanted the film shown. The operation, success or failure, has helped me to grow up in a lot of ways. One is that it taught me how to get stuff done, as in how you go by getting a film shown by an organization and it has also taught me more about the film in general. Operation Gojira also taught me more stuff: Godzilla’s image in the minds of some pretty diverse groups of people and how I can be stronger when I am presenting something to some people. All of that is great, if you count Operation Gojira among that of an independent study of sorts. The big problem with me still remained: I wanted the first film to be shown. Through the lessons I have learned through out my past two attempts, my third attempt was easily my best one and the one which may succeed. Here is the history among my third attempt at getting my school into showing the classic monster film, Gojira.
This whole third attempt thing was really not planned by me from the start. It was just something which came to me by nature. I was talking to an administrator of my school and I mentioned that, “You are missing a great opportunity not showing the film”. Of course, the administrator which was my principle, knew what I was referring too. And that is how it happened. So I decided to go full frontal: I pushed the film at them. I do not know as to weather this can be counted as pushed at them for the first time I tried to get the film shown I was just doing it the day before the film I wanted replaced was going to be shown and the second time I think did not really matter since my counselor, who was not really a counselor of anything accept academics, was just a person who once talked to the administration of the school involved her own personal opinions to cloud the initial first appearance of this film and what it could do. So I pushed the film. I gave the film to my principal in a most quick situation which caught my principle between a rock and a hard spot: when he was greeting the temporary new counselor in the morning first thing.
After that came the first of two periods of wait. Occasionally, about twice a week, I would ask them as too if they have seen the movie. I would get an indefinite answer and I would be on my way. In the mean time, I calculated the variables. The variables in this stage of part three of the operation was that I had to find screening dates for the film. And thiese were the ones which I had kept in mind. In part of this is that there was an AR (Accelerated Reader programs schools use nation wide) contest between the grades. The second variable was a little school project called the “penny wars” in which all the grades tried to see who would have the most pennies at the end of the grading period. The third variable was that the film had to be shown either way due to educational opportunity. So I waited. I waited till one afternoon. The assistant principal was in the main hallway. He shouted out, in a respectful manner, “Oh look, radioactive lizards and a book lover.” Of course, I had to but in and in what I called my Kitamura mood said, “Radioactive lizards with educational value.” The principle just happened to be walking up to me, my brother, and the assistant principle. Of course, more small talk occurred till I told them about the major bomb which successfully did what I hoped for the operation: I mentioned William Tsutsui. For those of you who are reading and do not know who he is, he is the Professor of Japanese Arts and History at the University of Kansas, who has published two books; In Godzilla’s Footsteps and Godzilla In My Mind, among other works not pertaining to daikaiju eigia. Youtube has been an host of the University of California, in which UCLA has their own channel and posts quite frequently videos, one of them being an one hour lecture by William Tsutsui on the symbolism and allegorical context of Gojira. This was done in terms in which would be educational, and so I e-mailed both the principal and the assistant principal the video along with more text by me. Then another wait went on, with my Gojira DVD still not returned to me (I wanted this to happen though).
So I started a chain of experiments to help me past the two weeks in which I waited. One was the heavy distribution of Operation Gojira on more kaiju related forums/message boards and on you tube. I cried out to people to read the paper I had written and e-mail my principle and my assistant principal to help urge them to accept the film and have it shown. In the mean time, I asked students questions like if they would mind watching a subtitled film. And of course, I needed to know how much they know about Godzilla, the character themselves. So I brought the smallest Godzilla toy I own. It was my Hyper 1999 Godzilla 1954 from the box set and not the separately released ones. I carried it, mostly for the experiment and as my muse. I wanted it as a muse because I have talked to Steve Ryfle before and he gave me the advice that I should be good in Language Arts. Although too bad that he would be disappointed. But I was more lukewarm about the reception of Godzilla. Most people called it a dinosaur, which many true fans know this is not true since Godzilla is no mere dinosaur. With the ones who did recognize it as Godzilla, they were excited as little children who either brought up stereotypes of the character and one person even said this, “I would kill for this when I was in the fourth grade.” Really lukewarm. I also had an encounter with a girl who said that Godzilla was a dinosaur and she is as dumb as anyone on the subject of Godzilla in my school.
Making another move, I decided to show my Language Arts teacher and the administration my paper on the first two times I tried to execute Operation Gojira. My Language Arts teacher said it was “in depth” but that my “call was unheard”. This makes me think, as to if she thought through the paper I was trying to get her help or if she could understand the paper and my quest. She, rather instead of reviewing the paper like what I originally wanted, just edited it. I then gave it to the administration, in which read it and I heard no immediate feedback. I then decided to go ahead and tell them about the internet hype over my Operation Gojira. I had received no real feedback. So I waited for two weeks. I also decided to show a friend of mine the DVD and I was rather thrilled that he found it as, “interesting.” I also repeatedly watched the William Tsutsui video, just thinking of where the main punches of the video were, as in when Mr. Tsutsui says, “what a man in a rubber suit could teach us about World War II”. This just blew me away. I was very excited. I also kept taking pointless video diaries, which have since been deleted by my own self. This marked the end of the third month of part three of Operation Gojira, which started in January 2009. However, once March 30th came by, I was given a shock. I said to myself, “This is it, I am done waiting for this bullshit to happen, especially since the variables in which the movie could be shown in” since most of thiese were contest-oriented which was difficult enough to control in a school environment. So I requested to have a meeting with the Principal, since I have been for the past two weeks to have a meeting and on that fateful day of March 29, I was called into his office. Of course, he seemed happy as always, but tried to keep things in a 10 minute time period. He also tried to get off topic as to asking me about certainty films which he could not remember and about MST3K. But he also kept on talking, with me taking notes in my head and on some sticky notes, about that the film he felt was more social then scientific (he based this on a talk with a science experienced school system head, which did not watch the film first hand meaning that the “telephone game“ was going on). He also mentioned that the film may be a little dark for middle schoolers - one reason as to why people have said to me to wait till high school to carry out Operation Gojira. I think it also scarred my principal, since he gave off a vibe that he was more experienced with 70’s protagonist Godzilla and not early, 80’s and 00’s antagonist Godzilla. But I was happy that I got the film approved. This was good but I also intended to use this as a weapon along with the DVD, my paper, and the William Tsutsui video. But I had the film approved. This was a great achievement in which I thought would have been a failure.
The fallowing morning, I came to him in the same hallway in which I mentioned earlier and I asked about some paperwork in which I laid out when I left his office when I found out the film had been approved. He said no he had not, but when I asked about his assistance on the project, he said one thing, “I want you to spear head this project. Since you are so passionate about it, you would do best with it.” I took thiese words to heart and I went on asking teachers, mainly three, about showing Gojira.