Godzilla in popular culture
As an enduring and iconic symbol of post-World War II cinematic history, Godzilla, the King of the Monsters, has been referenced and parodied numerous times in popular culture. Godzilla and other atomic monsters have appeared in a variety of mediums, including cartoons, film, literature, television, and video games.
Toho, the Japanese company which owns the licensing rights to Godzilla, has in recent years become aggressive about protecting its intellectual property and has sued or sent cease-and-desist letters to individuals, groups or businesses it believes may be infringing upon its rights.
"-zilla" is a well-known slang suffix, used to imply some form of excess to a person, object or theme; some examples being the reality show Bridezillas and the Netscape web browser Mozilla Firefox. "-Zilla" is rumored to mean "reptilian" as shown in the kaiju name, "Zilla". It has no word before it meaning it is not purely a suffix. This puts into question whether or not the shows/browser above are abusing the term.
The Mesozoic reptile Gojirasaurus quayi is a Triassic coelophysid named in Godzilla's honor. Over five meters in length, it was one of the larger predators of the Period. The species was discovered in New Mexico by paleontologist Kenneth Carpenter, who is an admitted Godzilla fan.
Dakosaurus andiniensis is a marine reptile of the Jurassic Period. It had a uniquely defined head similar to that of Theropod dinosaurs, which has led to researchers nicknaming the species "Godzilla".
On at least two occasions, the name Godzilla has been used as a nickname for athletes. Former Washington Capitals and Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Olaf Kolzig often goes by the nickname "Godzilla" (sometimes shortened to "'Zilla") and has a depiction of the monster painted on his goalie mask. Japanese baseball star Hideki Matsui goes by the nickname 'Godzilla' which represents his powerful hitting. He even made a cameo in the film Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla.
The Nissan GT-R sportscar was famously nicknamed "Godzilla" by the Australian motoring publication Wheels in its July 1989 edition - a name that has stuck till this day. This become one of the subjects of the car games.
Film and television
Godzilla has been featured in 28 films from 1954 to 2004. The Godzilla films have carved out an enduring and resonant place for themselves in cinematic history. As such, motifs from the series have been echoed, parodied or paid tribute to in numerous later films.
Bambi Meets Godzilla is the title of a humorous 1969 Canadian cartoon created entirely by Marv Newland. In 1994 it was voted #38 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. Only two minutes long, this cartoon is considered a classic by many animation fans.
Godzilla movies were frequently a target for commentary by Mystery Science Theater 3000.
Godzilla has appeared in many Robot Chicken parodies. In one, for instance, Godzilla and his wife are lying in bed and his wife says "I don't know, maybe if we use some toys?" then Mecha-Godzilla walks into frame cheering with a dildo coming out of his chest.
Godzilla made a cameo appearance in the 1996 comedy, Mars Attacks!.
A Godzilla action figure is present all throughout the sitcom Roseanne from series premiere to series finale.
In Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and Season One of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the Dragonzord (Dragon Caesar in Zyuranger) piloted by the Green Ranger, bares a resemblance to Godzilla as well as Mechagodzilla. It also rises out of the sea, similar to Godzilla. In the Tom and Jerry Tales episode Zent Out of Shape, Tom woke up a Godzilla-like creature that has Spike's face. Hanna Barbara created a cartoon about Godzilla in 1978, but the show only lasted two seasons. Tri Star and Sony also created an animated series in 1998 that followed the American remake, but the show also only lasted for two seasons.
- In the Japanese anime series Shinzo, the monster Grandora has the same roar as Godzilla.
- The end of Hercules (1958) has a monster guarding the golden fleece that emits Godzilla's roar.
- In the Japanese anime series Mazinger Z, several of the villainous mechanical beasts use Godzilla's roar.
- When Mongo the Gingerbread Man’s gumdrop button is shot off in the Shrek film series, he makes the same sound as Godzilla’s roar.
- In the Pokémon episode "Ditto's Mysterious Mansion", the character Jessie gets mad and yells with Godzilla's roar at Ditto.
- In Danny Phantom, Godzilla’s roar is frequently used for the more monstrous ghosts in the series.
- In the Simpsons couch gag for the episode "Homerazzi" where Homer’s evolution is featured, Bart and Lisa are depicted as dinosaurs roaring with Godzilla's roar.
- In Muteking, The Dashing Warrior episode 31, Takokichi turns into a monster like Godzilla.
- In The Simpsons episode "30 Minutes Over Tokyo" (Season 10, Episode 23, #AABF20), the family's flight home is briefly interrupted by a monster attack on Tokyo, featuring Godzilla, Gamera, Rodan, and Mothra. Godzilla roars as he attacks their plane and again when they fly away. His roar is heard even a few seconds after the episode has faded to black.
- When in "Simpsons Tall Tales" Homer in his role as the giant Paul Bunyan fights Rodan, Rodan roars like Godzilla.
- In the The Simpsons Halloween episode "Treehouse of Horror VI" in the first segment "Attack of the 50 foot Eyesores", Homer steals the Lard Lad's giant doughnut. The Lard Lad gets struck by lightning and comes to life. Then, he pulls his feet off the ground and stomps into the middle of the street, and emits Godzilla's trademark roar.
- In Camp Lazlo, Elebug metamorphoses into a monster in the episode "Creepy Crawly Campy" and makes Godzilla’s roar.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Chemo roars like Godzilla in the episode "Clash of the Metal Men!".
- Godzilla's roar can be heard in the episode of Total Drama Island camp castaways
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy, in "Giant Billy and Mandy All-Out Attack", which refers to "Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack". In the episode "The Incredible Shrinking Mandy", when Mandy becomes a giant after Billy puts a curse on her she goes to Sassy Cat Land she also does a Godzilla roar scaring everyone away from the amusement park.
- The South Park episode "Mecha-Streisand" parodies the Godzilla series heavily and also features the Godzilla trademark roar.
- In an episode of Catscratch ("The King of All Root Beer"), Waffle and Mr. Blik fight each other over the city. Godzilla's roar is also heard multiple times along with Rodan's.
- Chappelle's Show features a skit in which Dave Chappelle appears as a giant version of himself and is labeled "Blackzilla" by a Japanese city he attacks. After fighting and beating the real Godzilla, the skit comes complete with Dave making the signature roar of the said movie monster.
- In the Star Trek: The Animated Series episode "Yesteryear", Godzilla's famous roar was used as part of the sound of a Vulcan creature called the Le-matya.
- In an episode of Malcolm in the Middle Godzilla is referenced twice. First when Malcolm comments on the Godzilla suit looking fake and later when Lois trips on a lego city she bumps into buildings and her voice is slowed down to sound like Godzilla's roar.
- The Japanese heavy-metal band Seikima-II used Godzilla's roar to begin their live shows. They've also used the roar in their song "Kemonotachi No Hakaba". Seikima-II vocalist and leader Demon Kogure, a big fan of Godzilla, won a Godzilla roar-alike contest in 1983 and later made a brief cameo in Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989).
- Acid Mothers Temple 2006 album Starless and the Bible Black Sabbath features Godzilla's roar at the end of the final track.
- On the soundtrack album to the Godzilla (1998 film), Green Day remixed their "Brain Stew" song with Godzilla's signature roar.
- Sir Mix-A-Lot's song, "Posse on Broadway" samples Godzilla's roar repeatedly throughout the song.
- The punk band Adrenalin O.D. included the Godzilla roar on "Return to Beneath the Planet of AOD vs Godzilla Strikes Again in 3D", the B-side to their single "A Nice Song in the Key of 'D'".
- The German EDM band Moskwa TV employed the Godzilla roar in one version ("Godzilla Remix") of its song "Generator 7/8".
- In a Tom & Jerry episode, when Tom is pursuing Jerry and his nephew Nibbles, Tom locks Jerry in a bottle then surrounds Nibbles and hits him viciously in the butt. Jerry manages to break the bottle, and upon seeing where Tom hit Nibbles, he turns to Tom and looses a Godzilla-like roar, just before beating Tom.
- In an episode of the online series The Angry Video Game Nerd which focuses on Godzilla video games, the title character is overwhelmed by the poor quality of retro Godzilla games and rampages in his room, making frequent use of the Gozilla roar.
- In a few episodes of The Land Before Time TV series, the evil villainous T-Rex Red Claw sometimes uses the roar of the American Godzilla.
- In a Chowder episode, Godzilla's roar was used to describe Truffle when she play Mahjong as a Mahjongasaur.
- In the video game New Super Mario Bros. 2, the Reznor's roar bears a strong resemblance to Godzilla's Roar.
- In an episode of Young Justice, Ms. Martian uses the roar while impersonating a large Marvin the Martian.
- In the series Hellsing, Godzilla's roar can be heard throughout multiple episodes, often well hidden within the soundtrack of the scene.
Variations (some very subtle) on the Godzilla roar can be heard.
These variations include:
- Godzilla 1985-Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah: This roar was very deep & the longest of them all. It also has a very high amount of growling. Some of these roars actually date back to 1954.
- Godzilla vs. Mothra-Godzilla vs. Destoroyah: This roar was closer to the 1960s and 70s roar. Some of them were higher pitched than normal.
- Godzilla (1998): The main roar has a major reverb effect. For the most part, Godzilla's grunts resemble that of an elephant. The roars were actually supplied by voice-actor Frank Welker.
- Godzilla 2000-Godzilla: Final Wars: This roar is deep and unlike the other roars. It has no middle pitch-up. It was used for the duration of the Millennium series, never altered.
- Godzilla 2014: The roar used in the film and the trailers is recreation of the original roar using similar techniques employed in the 1954 film, but enhanced by modern technology, giving it a stronger slightly more high pitched frequency.
Many books have been released pertaining to Godzilla and the Godzilla series, including various collection books and manga.
Gojiro is the 1991 debut novel by former Esquire columnist Mark Jacobson. It reinterprets the Godzilla film series from the perspective of the daikaiju—not a fictional creature depicted on-screen via suitmation, but an irradiated varanid–turned–B-movie star named Gojiro (an homage to Gojira, the Japanese name for Godzilla).
Random House publishing produced four novels based on Godzilla, respectively entitled Godzilla Returns, Godzilla 2000 (which had no relation to the film which would later use that name), Godzilla at World's End, and Godzilla vs. The Robot Monsters. These books, as well as several novels aimed at younger readers in their later childhood and early teen years, and several picture books aimed at more juvenile readers age four and up, were produced during the late 90s and early part of 2000. Some of the novels written by Marc Cerasini present Godzilla as a force of nature much like in the Heisei series, neither truly good nor evil, with Mothra appearing in two books as a benevolent, supernatural and sentient creature who occasionally made a point to help people when monsters threatened the Earth.
Godzilla has appeared in Marvel and Dark Horse comics, both times under the title Godzilla: King of the Monsters. Marvel's run was produced in the late seventies and lasted twenty four issues, while Dark Horse has had the license for the creature's American appearances since the late eighties onwards, and produced a sixteen issue run, along with various appearances and special issues. Dark Horse produced a translated version of a six issue mini-series manga adaptation of the Japanese version of Gojira 1984 (Godzilla 1985 in its American release) under the title Godzilla, and it was later collected into a graphic novel under the same title. The character Warlock of the New Mutants took on the shape of Godzilla as he appeared in King Kong vs. Godzilla in a Web of Spider-Man annual. Marvel has recently re-released their run of the series as The Essential Godzilla: King of the Monsters Volume 1, which collects the entire twenty-four issue run. IDW Publishing has also produced comics based on the Godzilla character since 2011; these include Godzilla: Legends and Godzilla: The Half-Century War.
The first Godzilla game was an unofficial game made by The Code Works for the Commodore 64 PC in 1983. Godzilla would make his first official appearance three years later as one of the playable monsters in The Movie Monster Game by Epyx also for the Commodore 64 PC. (In 1983, a Godzilla knock-off called Goshzilla appeared in this games predecessor, Crush, Crumble and Chomp!). Godzilla would get his own games on the NES such as Godzilla: Monster of Monsters and Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters. He had his own game on the original Game Boy simply titled Godzilla. Godzilla would make an unauthorized appearance in early versions of the game Revenge Of Shinobi. Because of the copyright issues he was removed from latter releases. For the newer consoles he appeared in the game Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee, the first in a running series of Godzilla games. It has since been followed by Godzilla: Save the Earth and Godzilla: Unleashed. Godzilla has also appeared in Godzilla Generations and Godzilla Generations: Maximum Impact! in Japan. A game for the Tristar Godzilla was released, based on the cartoon show Godzilla: The Series and shared the name of the series when it was released on Game Boy Color. A sequel to this game followed with "Godzilla: The Series - Monster wars" (also for the Game Boy Color).
The computer game Sim City also featured Godzilla. One scenario in Sim City is Tokyo, Japan 1954 showing Godzilla destroying the city.
The Rampage series of video games is heavily inspired by Godzilla and King Kong films. Players take control of gigantic monsters as they destroy all the buildings in a city and survive onslauts of military forces. One of the monsters is a female lizard/dinosaur monster named Lizzie, who resembles and is clearly based on Godzilla. In an issue of Nintendo Power in an advertisement for the Rampage: World Tour game for the Game Boy Color, they give the reason why Lizzie is destructive is because she broke up with Godzilla and is taking her anger out on the world.
The Pokémon series features Tyranitar, a creature directly influenced by Godzilla. Its powered-up form, "Mega Tyranitar", bears an even greater resemblance to the King of Monsters, with similar body proportions.
On the album cover, Stomping Ground for the band Goldfinger, the members of the band are featured as human versions of Godzilla monsters, one member is even seen using Godzilla's trademark atomic breath, and Mothra is seen in the background.
The French metal band Gojira acquired their name from the original Japanese name of Godzilla.
R&B recording artist Ginuwine sampled the Godzilla roar on the song "What's So Different from his 1998 sophomore album "100% Ginuwine".
Oakland, CA rapper Yukmouth titled his third album "Godzilla". The rapper also used the monsters name for an independent record label but closed it down after receiving pressure from the copyright owners of the Godzilla name in May 2007.
In the musical The Book of Mormon in the song "Two By Two", Mothra is referenced when one Latter Day Saint is given his mission to Japan.
- In Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo short story "Zylla", Miyamoto Usagi meets and befriends a freshly-hatched, fire-breathing reptile uttering the syllables "zyl" and "la". "Zylla" subsequently saves Usagi from a gang of bandits, whereupon an awestruck Usagi wonders: "What are you? You look like a lizard but you breathe fire! Are you a god, Zylla?", and the creature responds with its fully joined name "Godzylla".
- In Rugrats, a green T. rex with spikes over its back named Reptar is a similar to Godzilla, makes frequent appearances; also sporting a Pteranodon ally, Dactar, which is a spoof of Rodan.
- In 1986, actor Bobcat Golthwait donned a Godzilla costume for the film "One Crazy Summer". When his character was needed somewhere, and the zipper to his Godzilla costume became stuck, he was forced to hightail it, while wearing the costume, to a presentation of a new lobster restaurant chain complete with miniature buildings. When the grandfather mistakes the head of the costume for an ashtray, and summarily disposes his cigar ashes in it, it send Golthwait's character into a frenzy, and in a nod to the Godzilla films, causes him to stomp on and destroy all of the miniature buildings, which the Japanese guests applaud at, mistaking the blunder for entertainment.
- The 1994 live-action Street Fighter film feature a scene in which E. Honda and Zangief do battle in a miniature city inside Bison's headquarters, complete with Godzilla's distinctive roar.
- The South Park episode "Mecha-Streisand" parodies the Godzilla series heavily, with celebrities such as Barbra Streisand as Mechagodzilla, Leonard Maltin as Jet Jaguar or Ultraman, Sidney Poitier as Gamera, and Robert Smith as Mothra becoming the giant Godzilla-like monsters. A later episode, Whale Whores, has Stan Marsh using a full scale model Godzilla to scare away Japanese whalers and fishermen who have been preying on whales and dolphins at local sea parks and aquariums. Mecha-Streisand also returns in the 200th episode.
- In The Simpsons episode "30 Minutes Over Tokyo" (Season 10, Episode 23, #AABF20), the family's flight home is briefly interrupted by a monster attack on Tokyo, featuring Godzilla, Gamera, Rodan, and Mothra. Another show by Matt Groening, Futurama, contains a Godzilla reference. In the episode "The Devil's Hands are Idle Playthings", a "holophonor" opera (an opera played on a fictional holographic musical instrument) written by Philip J. Fry has a scene where Fry is being attacked by Godzilla.
- The Pinky and the Brain segment "Tokyo Grows" features a monster named Gollyzilla who periodically threatens Tokyo. The segment is frequently interrupted by cutaways to a Raymond Burr caricature saying "Yes, I see," a parody of the way Godzilla, King of the Monsters! interpolated footage of Burr reacting to events from the original Gojira.
- An episode of Tom and Jerry Tales titled 'Zent Out of Shape' featured a grey version of Godzilla's fins and body and has Spike's face.
- The first season finale episode of The Wayans Bros. titled Brazilla vs. Rodney (Brazilla being an obvious parody of Godzilla while the name Rodney being an obvious play on the name Barney) features Shawn and Marlon at a Japanese kid's birthday party dressed up as a mouse and cockroach while fighting another man dressed as a Godzilla-like dinosaur over a scale model city, scaring away all of the other people present and causing destruction similar to what is typically seen in Godzilla movies.
- In the game show, Whammy! The All-New Press Your Luck one of the double whammys is a Godzilla-like whammy destroys a city. The whammy roars exactly like Godzilla's. A dollar bill yells out, "Aahhh, It's Whamzilla". Then it runs into the camera, which drops bricks on to the contestant's head.
- In Austin Powers in Goldmember, the protagonists drive a Mini Cooper which gets caught on a Godzilla-like statue. A Japanese pedestrian (Brian Tee) shouts, "Run, it's Godzilla!" as civilians flee in fear. Another pedestrian (Masi Oka) replies, "It looks like Godzilla, but due to international copyright law, it's not!". A clear reference to Toho being so strict on preserving the copyright of Godzilla.
- In Journey 2: The Mysterious Island, Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson) screams "Godzilla!" at a massive frill-necked lizard guarding its eggs.
- In the 101 Dalmatians: The Series episodes 'Four Stories Up' and 'Oozy Does It' featured Spot as Godzilla.
- A Tiny Toon Adventures episode and segment titled 'Bunny Daze' featured Babs Bunny as Babzilla that is a parody of Godzilla in her daydream.
- In the What's New, Scooby-Doo? episode Big Appetite in Little Tokyo, Shaggy is tricked into thinking he has fallen victim to a curse that will turn him into a giant monster when he sleeps. The episode's villain of the day then frames him using a giant robot resembling Shaggy as a Godzilla-like monster to destroy parts of Tokyo.
In 1992, a Nike commercial aired featuring Godzilla and Charles Barkley going head to head, playing basketball in a cityscape. Charles Barkley gave Godzilla an elbow to the face on the way to a slam dunk after the latter tried to slap the ball away from Barkley using his tail. The advertisement received positive reception and inspired a brief t-shirt line and its own comic book by Dark Horse.
Lawsuits associated with usage
Pharoahe Monch released his first single in 1999 called "Simon Says." The song became a major hit; however, he was later sued for the use of a Godzilla sample for the beat and forced to remove the song from the album as a result.
In 2010 the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society named their most recently acquired scout vessel MV Gojira. In May 2011 the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was served with a notice from the copyright holders of the Gojira/Godzilla franchise, regarding the unauthorized use of the trademark. The Society promptly changed the vessel's name to the MV Brigitte Bardot in honor of the French fashion model, actress, and singer whom Paul Watson, the founder of Sea Shepherd, took on an anti-sealing trip in 1977.
A Seattle video game retailer was founded as Pink Godzilla Games and was known by that name for many years, when Toho, owner of the Godzilla franchise, claimed the store was infringing upon its trademark. Pink Godzilla announced in 2009 that it would change its name to Pink Gorilla rather than engage in a legal fight.
Godzilla was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 1996 MTV Movie Awards. He is one of only three fictional characters to date ever granted the award.
- Godzilla and Postwar Japan - "William M. Tsutsui (Univ. of Kansas) explores the role of the Godzilla film series in popular culture"
- In Godzilla's Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage ed. by William M. Tsutsui, Michiko Ito. Palgrave Macmillan, 2006 ISBN=1-4039-6461-0 summary
- Professor Ferenc M. Szasz and Issei Takechi, "Atomic Heroes and Atomic Monsters: American and Japanese Cartoonists Confront the Onset of the Nuclear Age, 1945-80," The Historian 69.4 (Winter 2007): 728-752.
- William Tsutsui (2004) "Godzilla on My Mind", p,8.
- J.D. Lees, Marc Cerasini (May 1998) "The Official Godzilla Compendium", p,106.
- Gasparini Z, Pol D, Spalletti LA. 2006. An unusual marine crocodyliform from the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary of Patagonia. Science 311: 70-73.
- Lazar, Karlan & Salter, Allan, Dan & Jeremy (2006). The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived. New York City, NY: HarperCollins Publishers. pp. 78–80.
- "Godzilla Sex Toys". Robot Chicken.
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- "Godzilla The Series". IMDb. Retrieved 2010.
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- "Godzilla: 1983". lemon64. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- "The Movie Monster Game". lemon64. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- "Crush, Crumble & Chomp". lemon64. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
- Usagi Yojimbo Vol.1 #6, "Zylla"
- "Brazilla vs. Rodney". The Wayans Bros.. 24 May 1995. 21 minutes in. The WB Television Network.
- "The Beast Transforms into a Beauty as Godzilla Becomes the Brigitte Bardot". Sea Shepherd News. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. 25 May 2011. Retrieved 2 June 2011.
- "Pink Godzilla Games is changing their name". seattlepi.com. 2009-06-14. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
- Godzilla on St. James Encyclopedia of Pop Culture by David L. Hixson
- Godzilla - Other media
- The Science of Godzilla on a pop culture humor website
- Contemporary Japan and popular culture by John Whittier Treat (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996).
- Toho Godzilla vs TriStar Godzilla - Pop Culture Battles
- "J-Pop Goes The Market: In a globalized economy, comic books, toys, and other popular-culture products from Japan are no longer exotic--they're worldwide hits" by Edward M. Gomez in Duke Magazine 92.5 (September–October, 2006) - "Historically, for American consumers, the encounter with Japanese pop-culture products as we know them dates back to the post-World War II era. A major pop icon of those times whose fame crossed the Pacific was Gojira ("Godzilla" in the American market)..."
- godzilla - "Godzilla is one of the defining aspects of Japanese popular culture for many people worldwide."
- CFP: In Godzilla's Footsteps: Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage (12/1/02; 10/?/04)
- Donald Keene Center of Japanese Culture - Godzilla Conquers the Globe
- "Gojira as Japan's First Postwar Media Event," in the book, In Godzilla's Footsteps : Japanese Pop Culture Icons on the Global Stage
- Godzilla Blows Out 50 Birthday Candles--Incinerating Them By Katherine Moore from Columbia News - "... to a daylong symposium titled "Global Fantasies: Godzilla in World Culture. ... in earlier forms of popular representation and commercial culture in Japan. ..."
- PopMatters Feature - Godzilla at 50: THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING GODZILLA By Steven Luc
- Godzilla: Destroying Tokyo and my Social Life - "Further research on the subject reveals just how big of an influence Godzilla still has on global popular culture."
- Coming soon to a conference at KU: Godzilla returns - "... addition to academic sessions featuring leading scholars in Japanese popular culture, film, literature, history and anthropology, "In Godzilla's ..."
- East Meets West — Again - "The “Godzilla” half refers to the current fascination with Japanese pop culture..."