Robert HouleZero Hour (detail), 1988.
Photo: courtesy of Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen's University, Kingston

Asintelligence: What the Rock Has to Say about Nuclear Anxiety

Cody Caetano
Nuclear anxiety first oozed through me after my sister and I moved into the derelict basement apartment that our parents sometimes rented out for extra cash. At the height of our stay, we ate Frosted Flakes and watched Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla, Hollywood’s first take, bloated and chauvinistic, on TOHO Studio’s kaiju franchise.

Opening with a French nuclear weapons test that irradiates a Polynesian iguana nest and thus unleashes the movie’s namesake upon New York City decades later, the film is a supersized cautionary tale that largely overlooks the post-Second World War anxieties of previous Godzilla films. Instead, the terrible freak show is deployed to exploit audience appetites for metropolitan disaster, espionage, cover-ups, and the power plays of two fencing heavyweights. The closing shot, in which Godzilla’s sole progeny emerges from a destroyed Madison Square Garden, left eight-year-old me fraught with radiation worries, and it took decades to find a way to escape the sense of impending doom and the infinite, horrifying possibilities of what would one day come for me and everyone I love.

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This article also appears in the issue 108 - Resilience

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