Godzilla vs. Real Life


The word "Godzilla" was trending on Twitter this morning, as an army of would-be wits reacted to the catastrophe in Japan with identical wisecracks. The joke is dumb and tasteless. But it's actually worth taking a moment to think about Godzilla right now, because what happened last night illustrates an important but terribly underappreciated point: the striking difference between the ways people respond to disasters in the movies and in real life.

Here's a panicky crowd stampeding away from the monster in a Godzilla flick:

Here's real people reacting to a real disaster:

Human beings tend to be far more calm and resourceful in an emergency than the movies—and far too much of the news media—will ordinarily admit. Unfortunately, officials often make decisions with Godzilla's footprint on their mind, withholding important information from the public for fear of "spreading panic."

More on that subject here and here.

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  1. Well, I don’t know.

    If an earthquake hit right now where I am, I’d probably sit still and react calmly [at least with external calm, that is] like the people in the second video.

    But if I look out the window and a 30 story tall giant monster is walking my way, I’m running. Fast. Like the people in the first video.

  2. Sorry I am not sure that those two are a good comparison, If a giant lizard was approaching ones office, I doubt there would be much laughter.

    1. I see you’ve never had a Governor visit your office.

    2. If a giant lizard was approaching ones office


  3. Admitting that people are resourceful and competent severely undercuts the rationale for government power. Can’t have that!

  4. Rook! Gojira! Aiiiiiiiyeeeeee!!!! Lun fast to the burret tlain!

    March 11 (Bloomberg) — Tokyo commuters formed a 200- meter (220-yard) long line for taxis at the city’s main railway station after a magnitude 8.9 earthquake forced a shutdown of the city’s subways and train services.

  5. I made the point on the other Japan thread that they announced too quickly that the nuclear power plants sustained no damage.

    Today, they evacuated 3k of the surrounding population as a precaution.

    1. And speaking of Japanese things, I’m hosting a bukakke party tonight for my dealer’s friends. Can any of the reasonoids give me some friendly pointers?

      1. Here you go:

        int* friendly = new int;

        1. That literally made me laugh out loud. Thank you, good sir.

        2. pointerS.

          int * friendly[3] = {new int, new int, new int}

      2. Keep your eyes closed.

        1. Yes! A friend recommended investing in swimming goggles and a pair of straws. She also advised keeping any “spill-over” out of my knife wound.

          1. you’re just suck a jackass stealing my handle. Maybe the moderator can publish your IP address? I’m guessing it will be owned by Brandeis.

            1. you’re just suck a jackass stealing my handle.

              How is it theft if you don’t own it?

              1. I don’t own my handle either.

                1. Please suck my dick

                  1. Pretty please suck my dick

                    1. Pretty please suck my dick helle

                    2. You are damned right. I don’t own my handle, ergo my blog site and neither do you own yours Concerned Observer-not anymore

                    3. Unlike you, I don’t care. Pathetic.

                    4. 1k more of these, you will

                    5. Go right ahead. Only a pathetic loser dude who lives in mommy’s basement would devote the time and energy.

    2. There is more to the story than you imply. Eleven nuclear reactors at five power plants in the quake affected zone were shut down safely. The evacuation is related to one reactor that hasn’t released any radiation yet. The emergency generators that supply power to the shutdown cooling system at this reactor were damaged. The reactor itself was shut down safely, but cooling the residual heat in the core is the problem now.

      You need to stop trying to spread nuclear panic here, and get all the information. Simply linking to reports of precautionary evacuations makes it look like you’re trying to tell a story that isn’t really happening.

      1. You do know that you are responding to a troll, right?

        1. You know you are receiving advice from a an anon coward, right?

          1. Teh Irony, it *burns*!

      2. sometimes withholding important information from the public for fear of “spreading panic.”

        If you reread my post, my point is that they announced virtually after the quake the no-damage report.

        It looks like you’re trying to criticize for something I never implied; I wrote only facts that related to the story. You replied with unmerited critique based on your psychic ‘expertise’, or maybe you know someone there?

        1. You replied with unmerited critique based on your psychic ‘expertise’,

          Teh Irony, it *burns*!

          1. Teh ignorance, it’s fucking amusing

        2. I have yey to take a shit as painful as rather.

      3. Looks like they might not have been able to cool the reactor in time or the coolant system may have leaked. Officials reporting possible overpressure in the reactor in question. If the containment were breached this could lead to a release of radioactive coolant.

        1. Not so much overpressure as steam generated from the residual heat possibly venting into the containment through pressure relief valves.

          1. Simply linking to reports of precautionary evacuations makes it look like you’re trying to tell a story that isn’t really happening.

  6. People are resourceful and find ways to cope in emergencies.

    It’s governments that don’t want them to be that way.

  7. Fluffy-

    I call bs. You would fire the missile you have stowed in your office, rescue a hot executive assistant wearing a small skirt and high heels, boink her during a lull in the action, and destroy the monster with an impossibly complicated electrical device.

    1. Is that you, Mr. Bay?

    2. Can I be Fluffy’s stunt double?

      1. I boldly propose myself as Fluffy’s Vermont-based, non-wrinkly butt double (for the boinking scenes, of course).

  8. The joke is dumb and tasteless

    I agree.

    1. I thought it was “Snowpocalypse

      1. Nope. Snowmageddon. I was there.

  9. Too much sake with lunch for that crowd, or what? I experienced the Loma Prieta quake, which was 100x less powerful than this one. Laughing and grinning were not exactly things that occurred to me to do.

    1. Japan gets a lot of earthquakes. They are probably far more used to it than Californians are.

      1. They don’t get a lot of 8.9s.

        1. My wife does…bada bing!

          1. 8.9 millimeters!?

            How unfortunate for her!

          2. And that translates into how many men?

        2. True, but that video was taken hundreds of miles from the epicenter.

          1. Here’s the intensity map. Note Tokyo’s color on the “perceived shaking” scale. I think the sake theory prevails.

  10. I don’t know if standing next to a window during an earthquake really qualifies as resourceful.

    1. “Rook out the windowwwwwwaaaaaaaAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUGGHHHHHHH……….”


      1. *splat*

        Littering fine, CO2 pollution fine, death tax, and health care savings by foregoing unnecessary heroic care. Not to mention all these broken windows that need fixing! Look at all the money just rolling in! Nancy Pelosi was right, gosh darnit, it’s raining money!

  11. withholding important information from the public for fear of “spreading panic.”

    Part and parcel of the mindset that we serfs are children, needing the benevolent guiding hand of our masters.

  12. Fuck! Now I have to rewrite tonight’s show.

    Hmmm…how can we blame this on Scott Walker?

    1. I blame Bush

    2. Does he have nice breasts?

  13. OOOoowh.

    1. Oh we oh we oh…

  14. That is some damn fine engineering and construction. Haiti had a 7.0 quake and every man-made structure in the country collapsed.

    1. This is a very good point you make. IIRC, Japan redid a lot of their buildings after WWII – historical structures and stuff. And of course any new construction after that.

      Saw it on some TLC or History Channel show – very interesting. Undoubtedly paying off for them now!

      1. So earthquake resistance was just a side benefit of atomic bomb proofing?

        1. No, it was a side-effect of embracing capitalism and getting rich. I don’t think it’s possible to make a building “atomic bomb proof”.

  15. whenever I watch a horror/monster/end-of-the-earth movies, I always tell my charming wife that I would be running… running straight to the next county… instead of getting the flashlight out to investigate where my dog/GF/friend went. Unless I was armed with some heavy firepower.

    1. I’m sure she appreciates that.

  16. As I recall, the people in _Gojira_ evacuated in good order, and fled precipitately only when the monster was actually tearing apart the city. The comparison is unfair at both ends.

    1. The comparison is unfair at both ends.

      I’ll say! Can you imagine being a street sweeper cleaning up Gojira poop?

      As if police horses weren’t bad enough!

  17. The comparison is unfair at both ends.

    That’s what she said.

  18. Think of all the jobs the tsunami will create!

    1. Waves of them, I’m sure.

      1. i want to hug this joke and never let it go.

  19. Thank you for sharing ,I like you article.Bless You!!

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