I actually want to meditate briefly on racism. The other topics are to nab the algorithm bots. Let’s continue.
I was worried that the current book I’m writing was racist. No, not racist zombies. I’m doing something out of that genre (NOTE: I still have three books in that genre because that genre rawks and I still have post apocalyptic/zombie/space opera ideas kicking around – so just know that).
No, I’m talking about a general work of satirical fiction about a small island in the Northwest. I’m also talking about a crazily familiar topic about said island: The Japanese families who were forcibly removed to Manzanar from their strawberry farms.
Hmmmm. Sounds familiar. “Snow falling on Undead Flesh?” I told you, there’s no undead in this book. However there is a good chance that Godzilla, a Golem and a floating eyeball will make appearances.
So I’ve done research on the completely fucked up topic of the Japanese relocation off the island. As you all may know by now, it was completely fucked up. I’m a Jew and whenever the subject of the Holocaust arises, I simply respond that it was completely fucked up.
Thing are pretty well understood if they’ve completely fucked up.
But I’ve also been thinking about the actors who wore the Godzilla costumes. And I asked myself, “what if there was a fifty-foot tall, Japanese teenage girl inside a Godzilla costume stomping a small, picturesque island in the Pacific Northwest?”
That became part of my premise.
Why is she wearing a Godzilla costume? How did she get to be fifty feet tall? Are people really going to die trampled under foot? Will it interfere with the annual 4th of July parade (it will).
Anyway – that’s only part of the storyline. The teenage girl is third generation American and her family once again runs a strawberry farm. A world I don’t know much about as of this writing. But it concerned me. I didn’t read the Guterson book or see the movie. I did read up online and read two graphic novels: “Citizen 13660” by Mine Okubo and “Gaijin: American Prisoner of War,” by Matt Faulkner.
But it’s more than being a tourist to something completely fucked up that worried me.
It’s about Godzilla.
In my mind, Godzilla has stood for two things: great pop culture and the dropping of the atomic bomb. From Godzilla’s Secret History by Kevin Lankes, “Godzilla is a multicultural icon. If there was a Coca-Cola commercial featuring monsters that sung the national anthem, he’d be singing his part in a mixture of English and Japanese.”
The other thing is completely fucked up: Godzilla was first released as “Gojira,” directed by Ishiro Honda and had its plot as a reflection on nuclear radiation brought about by the dropping of the A-bomb. The beginning of Gojira is about a beast being awakened after nuclear testing. Fishermen found dead fish in the ocean. Tokyo gets trampled.
So here I have a heartbreaking, infuriating story taking place in a location concerning events that really did happen to the Japanese community, AND I’m blending it in with a seventeen year-old Japanese girl’s angst and anger about all manner of teenager shit, including the treatment of her family by Americans then and now.
And also, Godzilla.
So what’s any writer to do? Why tap into their vast resource of multicultural friends to get an opinion from the inside, that’s what. Now for me, I grew up in SoCal’s San Fernando Valley. I feel more Chicano than Jewish. My best friends were Masa Shimizu, Jamil Tuma and Asif Khan. Don’t talk to me about racism. I ate Menudo once.
Nonetheless, I contacted the only Asian I know with an Irish name, Kerry Carty. We worked together back in the advertising days and yes we tossed racial epithets at each other like a father and son playing catch, which I’m only guessing because my Dad liked to hide in the garage with the Dodgers game on, pretending to fix shit.
So I gave her about 60 pages to read. “Tell me if I’m a racist motherfucker,” were my instructions to her. I didn’t say anything else. Guess what?
I’M NOT A RACIST!
Kerry thought nothing of the Godzilla usage – except that it was funny and not an ethnic stereotype like Jews with big noses, or money, or cheapness – all things Kerry pointed out (she didn’t really but it makes for a funnier blog).
Also, she thought the pages were great. Fuck you, racism.
I dunno, I’m not gonna get into a big thing about racism in the world – it exists and is completely fucked up. Makes me wanna put on a Godzilla costume and stomp the shit out of some Westboro Baptists.
(just the Westboro part).
(all grammatical/factual errors, LarryCo 2015®)