Could the king of monsters actually be the best way to educate people about protecting trans kids? A new viral video has becoming a huge talking point for how we talk about trans right with kids, and, with each other.
Cressa Maeve Beer is a stop-motion animator, Godzilla fanatic, and activist for LGBTQ+ rights. She’s become known over the past few years for her quirky short films featuring the iconic Japanese monster, and in a new short film that went viral on Twitter over the weekend, she combines all three of her passions to create a funny, touching, and affirming message about protecting trans youth.
Beer’s version of Godzilla is an idiosyncratic, sensitive creature whose irradiated rage is derived less from the destruction of the planet or bothersome invasions by space aliens than frustration with everyday life on Earth. Sometimes, as in her newest video, the kaiju is the vessel for activism, much like the original 1954 Japanese movie that was a parable for the danger of nuclear warfare. Beer has made Godzilla stop-motion shorts on behalf of movie theater chains and for film festivals, but her latest was made to celebrate Pride weekend.
I made a short film about coming out. Happy Pride. Protect Trans kids. pic.twitter.com/5y6xjM8wm0
— Cressa Maeve Beer (@beeragon) June 26, 2020
The young conflicted creature in the short is known as Little Godzilla and appeared in the 1995 movie Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla (there were a lot of variations of Godzillas in the ’90s!). Initially hatched from an egg in the 1993 film Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla, the little kaiju eventually grew enough to be dubbed Godzilla Junior in the 1995 film Godzilla vs. Destroyah.
Junior’s origin is something of a mystery, as it hatched from an egg that scientists found on an exotic island. Godzilla is more of an adoptive parent than a definite biological one; we never see the procreation process that led to the egg, and though there were only so many monsters that would any shot of being the subject of a Maury Povich “You’re the father!” proclamation, we only know for sure that big and little G have a psychic link. Getting them to take DNA tests wasn’t really an option.
This may seem like an academic point, but it is actually indicative of how Americans gender their entertainment.
In the original 1954 Japanese film, Godzilla has no specific gender; the monster became known as a male because the 1956 American cut of the film was given the subtitle “King of the Monsters!” That binary continues to this day; the Japanese movies largely refer to Godzilla as an “it,” while the American dubs and subtitle call Godzilla “he.”
For decades in the United States, monster movies have largely been considered the sort of thing that should interest boys and not girls, despite the monsters having no obvious genitals (as we discovered in a 2016 story I commissioned titled “So, Does Godzilla Have a Penis?”) or awareness of gender. That’s limiting for everyone, and for fans like Cressa Maeve Beer, a trans woman who grew up loving Godzilla, that stereotype is very damaging. Her film addresses the fact that monsters (and fans of monsters) can identify as any gender and that they should be protected no matter what.
You can see more of Beer’s work at her website.