Godzilla is autistic
I’ve loved Godzilla movies since I was 14 years old, when Dad taped one off SBS to “help me with my Japanese studies.” (And when I say Godzilla, I mean the upright, atomic-heat-ray spewing dinosaur, not the wimpy iguana from that carcinogenic 1990s Hollywood remake. Thankfully the new one that just came out features the former and is awesome)
It wasn’t until recently that one of the reasons why occurred to me. More than just about any human character in the world of cinema, I could relate to Godzilla.
In his long career he’s changed from villain to hero and back again so many times that it’s like he’s the lovechild of a tyrannosaur and a traffic light, but the version of him I liked best was the misunderstood one.
This Godzilla wasn’t so much a 50,000 ton nuclear bulldozer on legs, so much as a lonely being who didn’t know how to interact with the world around him. He couldn’t communicate with people, so he didn’t realize that smashing that pesky bridge out of the way was frowned upon. Most of the damage he did was by accident, which to me recalled the motor function and spatial awareness challenges that can come with autism. I myself can hardly go a day without tripping over a cord or knocking something over; I even sat on a birthday cake once, though in my defense, it was on a couch.
But in classic autistic fashion, he’s also got a lot to offer. Even after people dropped a H-bomb on him while he was chilling in the tropics, giving him slightly more of a tan than he was probably aiming for, he still saves our ungrateful butts from genuinely nasty baddies like Hedorah the sludge monster or Gigan the intergalactic space chicken who watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre one too many times and attached a buzzsaw to his chest. (You gotta just roll with this stuff when it comes to the giant monster genre)
Every time, mankind tries to deal with the problem ourselves, fails dismally, then socially awkward Godzilla saves the day with his special talent for knocking other monsters silly in sequences that often resemble a match of Super Smash Bros played in slow motion.
Humanity then goes back to treating him like a leper with smallpox once they don’t need him anymore; another sadly relateable scenario.
As someone on the autism spectrum, I felt Godzilla was a kindred spirit.
But it’s not all boom and gloom; in spite of the government never seeming to learn that Godzilla’s not a villain, the main characters often do. More than one film ends with them heart-warmingly waving goodbye to him as he returns to the depth of the ocean to enjoy his peaceful Aspie alone time.
Maybe if humanity found a way to communicate with him instead of thinking up new ways to try and blow him up, everybody would be better off. (Though admittedly the films would be a lot less fun…)