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Visiting professor discusses nuclear arms

| Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In a lecture Monday titled “The Atomic Monstrosity from ‘Gojira’ (1954) to ‘Godzilla’ (2014)”, Professor Yuki Miyamoto of DePaul University said the issue of nuclear weapons is largely misrepresented and trivialized in the media.

“The popular media also contributes … to our deviation, or our not looking … into this issue,” she said.

Miyamoto said the media misrepresents nuclear warfare through two channels — the feminization and trivialization of the atomic bombs.

Miyamoto said the media has focused largely on images of women in photographs, songs or television shows, in relation to the atomic bombs. She said the popular image of the smiling Hiroshima maidens brought to the U.S. for plastic surgery “contributes to feminization of the bomb itself.”

“It’s horrible, it’s dangerous, but it’s fixable,” Miyamoto said.

Miyamoto specifically focused on the ‘Gojira’ films, or the 28 Japanese adaptations of ‘Godzilla.’ She said the films embody the media’s misrepresentation of nuclear weapons.

Miyamoto said the films attach an image of fantastical monstrosity to the popular understanding of nuclear weapons, which reveals a deep-rooted fear of nuclear weapons.

“What fascinates about Godzilla seems to be this ambiguity: Godzilla is … Hibakusha, the victim, but also victimizer, destroying Tokyo,” Miyamoto said. “It’s the metaphor of Japan, but at the same time it’s the metaphor of the United States.”

Miyamoto said the public must be responsible for challenging the national narratives that portray the aftermath of use of nuclear weapons as primarily a “Japanese experience” or atomic bombs as saviors which provided a swift end to the war.

Miyamoto said general knowledge of nuclear weapons would help disband misconceptions construed by the media. She said the U.S. possesses 7,300 of the 16,300 nuclear bombs in existence today and the country has conducted far more nuclear tests than any of the other seven countries who have done nuclear weapon testing.

“This should be relevant to our daily lives, but somehow we don’t know for sure,” Miyamoto said.

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