Representations of Dinosaurs Lab 2 – EAR 65: The Natural History of Dinosaurs To get credit, questions must answered before you come to section. Last week in lab, we started to talk about dinosaurs in popular culture. We read about why dinosaurs are so popular – S.J. Gould said that dinosaurs were “big, fierce, and extinct . . . alluringly scary . . . sufficiently safe.” W.J.T. Mitchell disagreed; he thought that dinosaurs, as symbols, were more ambivalent. So, last week was an introduction to dinosaurs as cultural- historical objects, rather than just pre-historical objects. Now that it’s established that people imagine dinosaurs and that dinosaur images are products of their times, we can ask a different question: What can we learn about people from dinosaurs? The first reading is chapter another chapter from Mitchell’s The Last Dinosaur Book , “The Totem Animal of Modernity” (76-85). Pay attention to how Mitchell uses the terms, “modern” and “modernity” to talk about dinosaurs, and answer these questions: 1) What is a totem? What are four roles that totems play? 2) How are dinosaurs “clan signs”? 3) How are dinosaurs our “ancestors”? 4) Are dinosaurs taboo objects? 5) What was Mitchell’s prediction for “the second extinction” of the dinosaurs? The Last Dinosaur Book was published in 1998 (e.g., the Raptors aren’t in Toronto anymore; he didn’t know about Walking with Dinosaurs; he had only seen the first two Jurassic Park movies)? 6) Do you think his prediction has come to pass since then? If not, will it? Many of the dinosaur representations that Mitchell discusses are characteristically Western (i.e. European or North American) in origin. But “modernity” is not something that has happened to only Europe and North America; neither are Westerners the only people for whom dinosaurs are meaningful objects. In “Monster Island: Godzilla and Japanese sci-fi/horror/fantasy” Philip Brophy discusses Japan’s – possibly the world’s – most famous dinosaur in terms that are very different from Mitchell’s. Brophy cla ims that Godzilla and the Toho Studios monsters are something like symbols of “cultural scarring” – a way for Japanese movie audiences to work through the anxiety of living on a relatively defenseless and overcrowded island in the shadow of the nuclear bomb and American occupation. Pay attention to how dinosaur images – vis-à-vis Godzilla – changed in Japan throughout the 50s and 60s. 7) Brophy writes that American monster movies used rubber suits only for monsters that were supposed to be sexually threatening. Rubber suits had a different effect for Japanese audiences, which is key to understanding the importance of Godzilla to Japanese movie audiences. What was it? (40-41) 8) Godzilla movies that were made after American occupation, which ended in 1958, a re different from the ones that were made earlier. How? (41) 9) How might Godzilla be a totem of Japanese modernity? 10) Spencer G. Lucas, the author of your textbook, is generally disappointed by the idea that pop culture dinosaurs are so far removed from real-life dinosaurs. According to our textbook, Godzilla is a very bad dinosaur with a mix of theropod and thyreophoran traits, plus “an overlay of a few novel features of the atomic age, including its appetite for radioactivity.” He’s “A Lousy Dinosaur” (259). Remembering last week’s reading (especially “Seeing Saurians” 48-50), would Mitchell agree? Why or why not? “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult (Spectres – 1977) With a purposeful grimace and a terrible sound He pulls the spitting high tension wires down Helpless people on a subway train Scream to God as he looks in on them He picks up a bus and he throws it back down As he wades through the buildings toward the center of town CHORUS (2x) Oh no, they say he's got to go Go go Godzilla, yeah Oh no, there goes Tokyo Go go Godzilla, yeah Rinji news o moshiagemasu! Rinji news o moshiagemasu! Godzilla ga Ginza hoomen e mukatte imasu! Daishkyu hinan shite kudasai! Daishkyu hinan shite kudasai! (Attention, emergency news! Attention, emergency news! Godzilla is going toward the Ginza area! Immediately escape, catch up, find shelter please! Immediately escape, catch up, find shelter please!) (2x) Oh no, they say he's got to go Go go Godzilla, yeah Oh no, there goes Tokyo Go go Godzilla, yeah (4x) History shows again and again How nature points out the folly of men Godzilla!