Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forrest Gump the "Genius"

Forrest Gump is one of the most iconic American films produced in the 1990’s. Forrest Gump is a very odd character, and he is definitely on the opposite end of the spectrum to what society might depict as “normal”. Lauren Berlant has her own critique of Forrest Gump in her article titled “On Being Normal, Average, Common, Ordinary, Standard, Typical, and Usual in Contemporary America”. In her article, Berlant says that Forrest is “incapable of making plans or thinking conceptually,” and he only literally “follows rules and orders” (Berlant 182). We discussed this quote in-depth last class period, as well as the fact that Forrest “takes risks but experiences nothing of their riskiness,” (Berlant 183). This part of the article is perplexing to me because Berlant seems to be contradicting herself. Yes, Forrest follows orders well, but he has his moments in the movie where he breaks these barriers, specifically in Vietnam. Forrest doesn’t listen to Lt. Dan’s orders and saves him and his other fellow soldiers. This moment in the movie is one of those turning points where Forrest shows that he is more than capable of making his own decisions. Another decision that Forrest makes is after Jenny passes away. Forrest decides to start running for no rhyme or reason. He wasn’t told at that moment in the movie to begin running, he just did. This started a media wave within the movie and Forrest gained tons of fans for running across the U.S. Also, I noted Berlant’s quote that Forrest doesn’t take risks. I disagree with this point as well because Forrest is always taking risks in the movie, whether it is in Vietnam, where he IS dodging enemy fire, and sticking up for Jenny when she gets hit by her “boyfriend”. These are the two points that I disagree most with, mainly because the movie really doesn’t portray the points that Berlant was trying to make.

Berlant, Lauren. The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997.

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