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.”

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)