BHSU Geek Speak to reveal the importance of Godzilla in the pop culture

Author: BHSU Communications/Tuesday, March 15, 2016/Categories: 2016

Dr. Tom Arnold, instructor of history at Black Hills State University

Black Hills State University instructor of history, Dr. Tom Arnold, invites the community to explore the origins of Godzilla, its meaning in Japanese culture, and its transformation into a worldwide pop culture phenomenon in the next Geek Speak lecture.

Arnold's presentation "Not Just a Cheesy Monster Movie: the Multiple Meanings of Godzilla" is Thursday, March 17 at 4 p.m. in Jonas Hall, room 110. The event is free and open to the public.

"The first Godzilla movie, Gojira, was taken very seriously in Japan upon its release. It was only when the movie reached America that it became the cheesy monster movie beloved by millions," says Arnold.

"When we look at the origins we see it's not just a silly icon," adds Arnold.

For many children in the 1950s, Godzilla movies were a Saturday afternoon staple. According to Arnold, Godzilla entered the culture at the right place and time. He also points out that Godzilla went through many transformations. It resembled pro wrestling with heroes and villains. Godzilla played either role, sometimes both.

"Depending on the movie, sometimes Godzilla is your friend who starts off as an enemy, and its role changes from movie to movie," explains Arnold. "Godzilla changes with the culture. In a way it is like James Bond movies, which intertwine with current events in history."

With the presentation Arnold wants the audience to realize how important pop culture is in understanding society.

"It seems like, especially in American English, when we want to describe something that is big, ugly and mean, we just take the latter half of the word "Godzilla" - Bridezilla, Hogzilla (a hybrid of a wild dog and domestic pig)," says Arnold.

The Geek Speak lecture series, sponsored by the BHSU University Honors program, features academic discussion and topics not normally discussed in the traditional classroom. The goal of the weekly lectures is to expose students to diversity within the disciplines.

For more information, contact Dr. Courtney Huse-Wika, director of the University Honors Program and assistant professor of English, at 605-642-6918 or email

Future Geek Speak topics include:
  • March 31, "On Hip Hop and Religion," Dr. Dan May, assistant professor of mathematics
  • April 14, "A Tour of Voting Systems: How Do We Choose a Winner?" Dr. Dan Swenson, assistant professor of mathematics
  • April 21, "The Social Life of Meat," Dr. Trenton Ellis, assistant professor of human services
  • April 28, The University Honors Program Capstone Defense

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