Sep 16, 2012

American Heroes and Godzilla

I wrote about American heroes in the previous entry, and I'd like to write about the same topic more.

I've been interested in American culture for a long time, partly because it is so exotic for me. Although Japanese culture has been westernized for 150 years, now it is deeply based on elements that are quite different from Western culture. Sometimes I find something in American culture that I can't understand at all, and it's really fun for me to think about it.

One of these things is "American Heroes." I know that "heroes" are quite important in American culture, but I can't understand why they are so important.

I found articles about "Fukushima 50" in American press after the Tohoku earthquake and the accident of the Fukushima nuclear plants. I didn't read about their stories in Japanese mass media at all, and I felt that it was exotic that American press sought "heroes" in such tragedies.

Of course Japanese media reported about heroic acts, which are done by firefighters, policemen, army, and ordinary people. But it mainly focused on the uncontrollable natural threat, which was beyond justice and evil.

The story of Fukushima 50 is like American hero movies, and the story reported by Japanese mass media is like Godzilla (Not the Godzilla made by Roland Emmerich in Hollywood in 1998 but is the first Godzilla movie made in Japan in 1954.)

A nuclear experience awakened Godzilla, who was sleeping in the deep sea, and Godzilla landed on Japan, destroyed everything, and spread radioactivity. Godzilla doesn't have any morals, and human beings couldn't even know if it had any intention.

Haruki Murakami said, as follows, in his Catalunya International Prize speech.

In Japanese, we have the word “mujō (無常)”. It means that everything is ephemeral. Everything born into this world changes, and will ultimately disappear. There is nothing that can be considered eternal or immutable. This view of the world was derived from Buddhism, but the idea of “mujo” was burned into the spirit of Japanese people beyond the strictly religious context, taking root in the common ethnic consciousness from ancient times.

Godzilla destroyed everything, ultimately because this world is "mujo". Human beings can't do anything, and we, Japanese, don't believe in heroes. American people, including press, can't accept "mujo" of the disaster, so they seek heroes.

In the next entry I'll write about relationship between ethics and American Heroes.

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