The other day my daughter asked me if I had seen any reviews of the movie “Godzilla vs. Kong.” She is 14 and her question surprised me because she has never expressed interest in either Hollywood movie franchise.

How did Mario and Luigi from the video game “Donkey Kong” wind up in the movie “Godzilla vs. Kong”? Photo courtesy of Gregory Greenleaf

I wondered if she had been binge watching the old classics – without me. Mindlessly throwing popcorn into her mouth while watching the 1971 classic “Godzilla vs. Hedorah.” Downing can after can of Diet Coke as some inexplicable plot played out in the 2005 film “Kong: King of Atlantis.”

All without me?

“I read it was bad,” I said, trying to cover up the hurt of abandonment I felt. “And in the end, they don’t even fight each other but team up to take on a robot.”

“Oh, a robot?” she said, surprised. “What about Mario?”

“Mario?” I asked.


“You know, Mario. He also has a cousin named Luigi.”

“Luigi”? This was sounding like a “ ‘Godfather’ vs. ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ ” movie.

“ ‘Donkey Kong,’ ” she said. “You know, the Mario and Luigi in ‘Donkey Kong’ …  the video game.”

And then she batted me another question.

“Is Godzilla a big dog? I heard that at school.”

When I called my brother to tell him my daughter thought “King Kong” was “Donkey Kong” and that Godzilla was a St. Bernard, he told me I was a complete failure as a father. How could I not agree?


Beyond offering food and shelter, I have few responsibilities as a dad. The only other two are providing my children with an unlimited data plan and passing down their TV and movie cultural heritage.

Here I had failed because I had taken for granted that something else, namely mass media consumption, would take care of that for me. It hadn’t.

But maybe I should take a step back and ask myself what I knew of my father’s television and movie icons. How many could I mention?

Just a handful.

So here is a lesson for you. Most characters from movies and television and the Golden Age of Radio are not keepsakes handed on to the next generation – they fade out of memory. Or if they do not fade totally, they appear on television at 2 a.m. when children should be asleep.

And if they are not asleep at 2 a.m., they are certainly not watching old episodes of “Quincy.”


But here is the good news. When we need them on a sleepless night, every generation’s Ponch and Edith, every Matt Dillon and Agent 99 wait just for us, our generation, not the generation before or the generation after. They wait just for us as a sort of black-and-white, grainy Technicolor comfort food.

Later that night, I went to my daughter’s bedroom and poked my head in.

“Hi, sorry to interrupt. Just wondering if you’ve ever heard of The Fonz. Do you know who he is?”

“Nope,” she said.

“That’s OK,” I said. “Aaaayy, that’s OK.”

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