Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Lauren Berlant on "Forrest Gump"

Citation for this post is as follows:
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.

In Berlant's article, she states that Forrest Gump "encounters history without becoming historical". The film makes this aparrent by people becoming dead, being gravely wounded, or being degenerate. Berlant writes "Because he is mentally incapable of making plans or thinking conceptually, he follows rules and orders literally" (Berlant 182). This is obvious when Forrest is told to run several times in the film. Berlant also says that Forrest takes risks without the actual experience of that riskiness, which can be seen in Vietnam. But one thing that is important to note that Berlant does not mention or realize is the ending scene with the bombing in Vietnam. When Lt. Dan is hit and injured, he tells Forrest to leave him there to die. This is the one time Forrest does not do what he is told. Forrest resists his order from Lt. Dan and carries him to safety. Whether this is courageous or out of ingnorance, he repeatedly returns to the battlefield to save his comrads. The risk here is real, which goes against what Berlant says. This action does show something about Forrest and the way he is portrayed; a better picture of him than what Berlant depicts.

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