Friday, October 12, 2012
How do you say shalom in Japanese?
There are lots of iconic photos from the Cold War. I think of Kruschev's "We will bury you!" pose, the angry face, the clenched fist in the air. Whoa.
Of course there are thousands, maybe even millions of pictures of the Berlin Wall, though perhaps the most well known icons of that era are fictional, like James Bond. All those spy movies from the 1950s and 1960s - they were all about the Cold War.
Ellen reminded me that along with learning to duck and cover, we were afraid of mutants, the result of nuclear fallout. Everyone's favorite mutant, Godzilla, is a powerful and enduring icon of the Cold War.
I loved the Godzilla movies. I've seen a lot of them, mostly during the 1970s, almost always when stoned. The first Godzilla movies are meant to be terrifying, as is right and proper. Oh what we did to Japan, oh man. We were ready to do anything to end the war, but who knew it would be as bad as it turned out to be? Who could have imagined?
It's interesting that as time went on, Godzilla became less terrifying, almost cute in some of the films. Godzilla even became a hero, fighting for Japan against other mutants, in a few of the later movies. I don't know what to think about that!
As I remember it, in the U.S. as the years passed, the post-WWII paranoia faded. I didn't think a lot about the Soviets or the Chinese, I didn't worry about nuclear annihilation after about the age of 7 or 8. We had enough to contend with here in America, what with the assassination of a president, his brother, and the great Martin Luther King, Jr. When the sixties arrived, we were watching the Vietnam War on television, also the marches for Civil Rights and we were reading about what we called "women's liberation."
The Cold War ended, for me, somewhere around 1965, which is one reason it was such a shock in 1979 to visit Berlin, to see how real it still was. One of Reagan's legacies is the end of the Cold War. By then it was ancient history for me.
It's interesting to think about.