Human beings can get pretty big. There’s actually a field of study on mammalian morphology, or some such, that includes us talking apes. In fact, we humans have a very wide array of sizes to choose from, with the shortest adult male (verified) coming in at just 57 cm (that’s 22 inches). On the other end of the spectrum, there are adult males over 2.29 m (7 & ½ feet) all over the place. I’d even go so far as to say “just” being 7 feet and some odd inches isn’t quite gargantuan enough to merit wonder anymore. The tallest ever verified was Robert Wadlow, who may have grown just a bit after his last measurement of 2.72 m (that’s 8 feet, 11 inches). And the current, living, tallest human is Sultan Kösen of Turkey who is a whopping 2.51 m (8 feet, 3 inches).
Damn. Those are some big people, no doubt. If you measure those tall folks against the worldwide average (about 5 feet, 5 inches) they seem even larger. Factor in the historical/genetic trends towards taller and taller humans and those record holders might seem downright inhuman. But you’d be wrong to think so. Even if Mr. Kösen is literally twice the height of my Great Aunt Dee, he’s still a human being. He puts on his (gigantic) trousers one leg at time, like the rest of us.
Those very, very tall folks? They aren’t monsters. Not even close.
These are Monsters. Formed in the prehistoric nightmares of our caveman ancestors, these titans tower over the diminutive, hairless apes. Those same nervous hunter-gatherers created the myths and tales that served as the foundation for creation stories. Giants walked the land. In the wake of their passing was death, chaos and destruction. Storms raged, the ocean surged and the very Earth rumbled, shook and cracked open. Volcanos erupted and giants flung molten rock and burning ash. Their footprints became lakes. Where they dragged their spears in the dirt, rivers followed course. When they grew weary, they laid down to rest; spines crooked over the horizon, slathered with dirt, rocks and scrawny trees. Inhuman? Oh my, yes. Legendary.
I want those giants. Where have they gone? Banished, to Tartarus, by the upstart new gods? Are they not needed anymore? Once, the incarnation of a dangerous and uncertain world, they gave way to – less monstrous – more human deities. Some kind of reverse entropy occurred, where the random forces of the universe settled down, were replaced by more ordered and logical avatars. And in some of our cultures, that trend has continued. There are fewer and fewer gods, in a more ordered and static mythology. Is that the way of things now?
But the giants are still there. Aren’t they? I think they’re buried deep in our little monkey minds – a genetic bias against being crushed by some malevolent colossus. We created them – back in the dark days – and we’re still at it. We’ve made statues, carved them in the sides of hills and weaved them into our religions. When we were babies we looked up out of our cribs and saw them carrying on. When our ancestors huddled against the cold and dark tried to piece together the world around them, they must have been just over the treetops. Now, when you look at the stars hanging about you in the night sky – when you feel so insignificant that you question your place in the universe – you know just how small you really are.
They aren’t my favorite monsters, these giants. In some ways, they scare me more than any of the others. But I still want some good, old fashioned, awe inspiring giants. I want my teeth to chatter in mind-numbing fear of the inhuman enormity of the colossal menace. Because the hum-drum, run of the mill vampire thrill isn’t doing the trick. If I want a monster, I want to rock my senses and shatter my world view. Bring it on. I say, make it BIG, or don’t bother. Honestly, I’d settle for more Trollhunter. Especially if that meant a little less Village of the Giants.
This movie scared the piss out of me – this is what I’m talkin’ about.
Sadly, no one was squashed.
Patrick Jennings-Mapp is a co-founder of and an editor for Escape Collective Publishing. Although he is more proficient with the Metric System than many of his countrymen, he doesn’t measure his height in meters anymore. It only serves to make him feel smaller. If you want to tell him how silly that is, drop him a line at patrick AT escapecollective DOT com.