Dean Godzilla Talks Monsters

October 6, 2010 by · 1 Comment 

By Andy Garcia
atgarcia@smu.edu

A projector screen lights up with the black and white scene of a titanic reptilian monster rampaging through a cityscape. Mobs of people run mindlessly trying to escape the ensuring carnage, their efforts in vain.

The camera angle shifts to a full shot of the monster as it exhales a blast of atomic energy and a blood curling scream.

Godzilla continues with his destruction of Tokyo, while the 1956 “Godzilla, King of the Monsters” trailer capitalizes on the film’s “dynamic violence,” resulting in laughter from the 21st century audience.

A published authority on Japanese culture Dedman College Dean Dr. William Tsutsui spoke about the significance of Godzilla, to nearly 150 people in McCord Auditorium Tuesday night.

“Godzilla films can provide us valuable insights into Japanese culture since World War II,” Tsutsui said.

Dean William Tsutsui explains that Godzilla is one of the most recognizable Japanese figures amongst the world during his lecture Tuesday night on Godzilla and Japanese Culture. (PHOTO BY MARISSA BELSKE / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

According to Tsutsui the 28 films in the Godzilla series have developed around major issues like nuclear weapons, pollution, and corporate greed.

SMU sophomore Kelsey Pearson was surprised to learn how Godzilla is more than just an action movie franchise.

“I thought it was really interesting when he described all the ways Godzilla was used,” Pearson said. “I guess I had never thought before about how Godzilla could be interpreted.”

"Godzilla On My Mind" is the book William Tsutsui wrote on the impact of Godzilla on Japanese culture. (PHOTO BY MARISSA BELSKE / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

In his lecture Tsutui keyed in on the theme of anti-American sentiment prevalent amongst the films. The first Godzilla film, “Gojria,” provides an example. The film was released less than ten years after the U.S. defeat of Japan in World War II and uses “memories of the past war and fears of a coming war seemingly intertwined, always with an unspoken antagonism towards America” Tstutsui said.

“It was interesting to learn how Godzilla was in some way a symbol of anti-Americanism and hostility towards America,” Pearson said.

The pinnacle of the hostility towards the U.S. can be seen in “King Kong vs. Godzilla” which Tsutsui said is billed as a showdown between America and Japan, ending with a tie between the two monsters in the hope of a sequel that never materialized.

For those in the audience not familiar with the films, Tsutsui provided a background on Godzilla. While speaking about the orignal film Tsutsui explained how Godzilla’s name originated from the merging of the Japanese words for whale and gorilla and their translation into English.

“It is tempting to think that somehow the people who were coming up with the name, were thinking of God and this kind of a deity like nature for the monster,” Tsutsui said. “In fact, that was simply just how Japanese was Anglicized back in the day.”

Merry Nadler, who watched the original American film “Godzilla, King of the Monsters” in the theater, was impressed with Tsutsui’s enthusiasm for the topic.

Known around the Southern Methodist University campus as “Dean Godzilla,” Tsutsui’s love for the monster goes back to his youth when he was looking for a Japanese icon. Even now Tsutsui’s office in Dallas Hall is filled with Godzilla toys and posters.

Tsutsui shared his passion for all things Godzilla when he described seeing a major prop from the first movie as “the greatest day of my life.”

Daily Update: Tuesday, Aug. 31, 2010

August 31, 2010 by · Comments Off 

Daily Update: Aug, 31 2010 from SMUDailyMustang.com on Vimeo.

Watch today’s Daily Update to see footage from the reception welcoming the new dean of Dedman College. Also, learn more about Hurricane Earl’s path of destruction and Biden’s trip to Iraq.

SMU Welcomes New Dedman College Dean

August 31, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Andy Garcia
atgarcia@smu.edu

Dr. William Tsutsui, the new dean of Dedman College, greets guests at the reception in his honor. (PHOTO BY AIDA AHMED / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

The new dean of Dedman College, Dr. William Tsutsui, was officially welcomed to SMU at a reception in the Hughes-Trigg Ballroom Monday evening.

Tsutsui was chosen out of over 40 candidates for the dean position. His credentials include his role as Associate Dean for International Studies at the University of Kansas and two publications on the cultural influence of Godzilla.

At the reception, Tsutsui spoke on his belief that Dedman College is now positioned to make major advances in the field of liberal arts education.

“This is a defining moment for Dedman College,” Tsutsui said. “Expectations are understandably high both on and off campus, so it’s imperative now as never before for Dedman College to sharpen its focus.“

Tsutsui also touched on the benefits that the new GEC curriculum, Bush Presidential Library and the Second Century Campaign will offer both Dedman College and SMU as a whole.

Dr. Tsutsui took the stage to thank the SMU faculty and staff and express his love for his new home. (PHOTO BY AIDA AHMED / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

The new dean also spoke about “Texas hospitality” and the number of faculty, students and members of the Dallas community who he has met, and how they always mention his connection to Godzilla.

SMU Provost Paul Ludden introduced Tsutsui and his wife to an audience of SMU’s faculty, board of trustee members, alumni and major donors. Ludden also thanked former Interim Dedman Dean, Peter Moore, for his service to SMU.

Godzilla cookies were served at the reception for Dr. Tsutsui, who has published two books on the subject. (PHOTO BY AIDA AHMED / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Campus News Blog: Texas Poet Laureate Dies, Said SMU “Saved His Life”

November 29, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Jaimie Siegle

Jack Elliott Myers was 67 when he died Nov. 23 at his home in Mesquite. Myers taught English at SMU for 34 years and ran the Creative Writing program for seven years. An In Memoriam page for the writer mentions that Myers often said that coming to teach at SMU “saved his life” – a statement so genuine that I’m ashamed it doesn’t apply to me.

As an English major who has practically lived in Dallas Hall the past four years, I feel almost ignorant for never having heard of Professor Myers until this week. And after reading this blog post from a writer at D Magazine, I wish I would have been able to learn from him as I have with some of the wisest scholars I’ve ever met who currently teach in the English department.

Even though Thanksgiving is over, Jack Myers’s love for teaching and writing left an impact on those who sat in his classroom and those who did not; and that is a reason for students to be grateful for their education on the Hilltop.

Below is Myers’s poem “Doing and Being: A Story About the Buddha” from his 1999 anthology OneOnOne:

For a hundred thousand eons, or kalpas,
before his birth, the Buddha practiced
patience and compassion, steadfastness and calm.

Each kalpa was one hundred thousand years long,
yet the Buddha secretly smiled, sitting at his practice
which was said to be twice the size of Mt. Everest.

It is said his progress was like that of the raven
who once every hundred years appeared
with a silk scarf in its beak
which it dragged lightly over the mountain top
and thus gradually wore the mountain down.

It was in this way that the Buddha became Buddha

Campus News Blog: New Fountain on Campus

March 6, 2009 by · Comments Off 

Posted by Theresa Nelson

If you haven’t noticed all the new changes on the east side of campus of SMU, you should get out more often. A number of buildings have been torn down, and the parking lot in front of the Dedman Life Sciences Building has been closed all year as workers built a new fountain. Well, that fountain is finally finished, and the dedication was yesterday, March 5.

The fountain was given as a gift from Valeria Late of Dallas, and the fountain has engraved on the front “The Val and Frank Late Fountain,” the names of her and her late husband who died in 2002. And this was one expensive fountain…the 42-by-64 oval fountain was constructed entirely with granite, and has a wide base rim for seating. Late hopes that students will use the fountain as a meeting spot on campus.

And if you’re wondering what that big open field next to the fountain is going to be, wonder no more. That’s the future site of the Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

I don’t know about you, but every time I drove down Airline and passed that empty lot, I would wonder what was going to be there…