Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Forrest Gump The Liberal

“He is Reagan—Reagan, that is, as he sold himself, a person incapable of duplicity, who operates according to a natural regime of justice and common sense in a national world that has little place for these virtures” (Berlant 184).
Berlant, Lauren. "On Being Normal, Average, Common, Ordinary, Standard, Typical, and Usual in Contemporary America." The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship. Durham: Duke University Press, 1997. 180-87.

The quoted piece above illustrates the overall point that Lauren Berlant is making in her article. That Forrest Gump is the creation of right wing proponents who are searching to instill the values of the Republican party and illustrate the overall greatness of the virtuous white man. Based on my interpretation of the film I have to disagree with her. In fact, I believe one can go so far as to claim that Forrest, a slow witted man, in fact illustrates many characteristics of a forward thinking liberal. Let’s look first at the strongest relationships Forrest has in the movie. It is no coincidence that Forrest’s main confidants, advisors and friends are two women and a black man. During his brief friendship with Bubba, we see him subject to degradation and humiliation alongside Bubba. Furthermore, during a rainstorm he and Bubba lean on one another to save each other from “sleeping with their heads in the mud.” This certainly does not characterize the ultra right wing agenda Forrest has according to Berlant. Additionally, throughout the movie Forrest in no way attempts to control or distort Jenny’s actions, but rather protect, nurture and further any activity she attempts, except when he feels she is in a bad situation—which she usually is.
Finally, the above quote suggests that the right wing agenda in the movie is to appear virtuous only when one has to, but this does not describe Forrest at all. For example, although Bubba is dead and although his family had no hand in creating the BubbaGump Shrimp company, Forrest honors his partnership with Bubba by paying his share to Bubba’s Family. In essence, Forrest is constantly choosing to help anyone and everyone regardless of race, sex, or religion a characteristic portrayed on the liberal side of the spectrum.

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