Godzilla, Jews, Jesus, and Lil Nas X

Happy Easter to those celebrating. Tough past few days for me as I experienced some serious writer’s block. I appreciate you sticking with me and hope you’ll continue to do so. 

This week, I write about a confluence of things that offer reassurance amidst the craziness of the current moment. With that in mind, I have risen to give you content. 

This week marks the arrival of two distinct pop culture phenomena which lend comfort as we embark on what is hopefully the beginning of the end of the pandemic lockdown. Like Jesus, we are in the midst of resurrecting our past lives. Like the Jews out of Egypt, slowly we are re-gaining freedoms, emerging from strife, only to face more. 

Easter, as I understand it as someone who doesn’t celebrate, is a commemoration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead three days after his crucifixion. Owing to the centrality of the resurrection, the holiday symbolizes rebirth and renewal. 

Before his eventual betrayal at the hands of Judas and subsequent crucifixion, Jesus shared in the Last Supper, which was actually a Passover feast, with his apostles. Given the events’ historical proximity, the timing of the two major holidays will always be close, but don’t always fall in the same order. This has something to do with the Hebrew calendar that isn’t germane to this writing.

Passover celebrates the Jewish people’s exodus from Egypt and emancipation from slavery. Although free from the Pharaoh in Egypt, the Jews’ hardships weren’t over--they encountered many more as they crossed the desert towards Israel. In addition to celebrating freedom, the holiday focuses on the gratitude that comes with finding the good in things, regardless of circumstance.  

Accompanying these holidays is earth’s own revival, the spring season. Plants and leaves sprout again, the days get longer, and the Earth begins to warm. The warm weather brings freedom from the indoors, and the flora’s regrowth makes the old seem new again.

In between these two holidays and amidst the verdant regrowth, ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ was released in theaters. As the title alludes, the movie tells the story of two giant monsters who first battle each other, then team up to battle a monster of humanity’s own creation. It is a loose remake of the 1962 classic of the same name. An old story, re-grown for us just as the weather warms, the pandemic wanes, and theaters reopen. 

Concurrently, the cultural scolds are up in arms over Lil Nas X’s new music video for ‘MONTERO (Call me by your name)’ in which he sings about drugs and sex while at one point giving himself, dressed as Satan, a lap dance. The song’s catchy as hell, and the video, which has Lil Nas X doing an abbreviated Eddie Murphy impression by playing every character, is fun to watch. It’s a brightly colored celebration of a 21 year old superstar living their best life. 

Both the film and the music video  signify how slowly time has moved since Jesus’ passing. Despite looking kick-ass as all hell, ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ is a remake that combines two franchises which have been around for nearly a century. Without having seen it, I can surmise the story is heroically resolved by the titular characters in a way that demonstrates nature’s ultimate superiority over humans and their self-destructive foibles. 

By comparison, Lil Nas X’s song and video are quite original. What’s not, however, is the controversy surrounding them. In the year 2021, there are people on this earth who take offense to imagery that invokes Satan. 

Popular music’s adversarial position vis-a-vis god has been going on for centuries. Some of the more notorious examples of the last century were when John Lennon of the Beatles stated the band was “Bigger than Jesus” and Tipper Gore’s misguided fight to have parental advisory labels added to CDs in the 1990’s during her time as head of the Parents Music Resource Center.

Nothing will come of the scolds’ attempts to silence Lil Nas X, and no matter how spectacular the monster on monster action is, ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ will be long forgotten by most people in time for summer blockbusters. 

In Godzilla and Lil Nas X, we have the re-emergence of clichés repackaged for us as something new. In enjoying both ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ and ‘MONTERO (Call me by your name)’, we have a welcome return to normalcy.

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