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Gremlins is an American version of Godzilla. Just as the monster Godzilla represents the United States armed forces destroying Japan, the Gremlins represent Asian competition destroying the United States economy in the 1980s.

Near the beginning of the movie, the drunken Mr. Butterman, bitter about the loss of his job due to a closing factory, complains about foreign products being full of Gremlins, which he defines as little creatures who mess up machines.

Throughout the film, we see signs of economic crisis. The bank, represented by Mrs. Deagle, presides over the slow shutdown of the town. There is no heavy industry anymore, and Dorry's bar, representing blue collar culture, is nearly bankrupt.

Into this situation, a cute Chinese creature, Gizmo the Mogwai is brought in. While friendly himself, Gizmo multiplies rapidly and spawns a horde of destructive creatures, the Gremlins, which cause machines such as traffic lights to malfunction, kill a science teacher, destroy Dorry's bar, and finally ruin the whole town. The destruction of machines by the Gremlins symbolizes the end of North American industry.

Mr. Pelzter, the father of the main character who originally purchased Gizmo, symbolizes American know-how and engineering. He is away at a convention where people show off their impractical blue sky ideas, and returns to find his home and everything around it destroyed by the Gremlins. He is the only salvation from the Gremlins - his machines kill a few of them - but he is away at the time, avoiding his responsibilities (symbolized by him leaving his family alone on Christmas). Finally, though, his son manages to finish them off, although the town is completely ruined.

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