“He is too stupid to be racist, sexist, and exploitative; this is his genius and it is meant to be his virtue.”
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.
I believe that Berlant has taken the wrong idea of Forrest Gump’s virtue in this quote. She takes her point far over the top in saying that his virtue is actually in the fact that he is too stupid to realize the problems that are around him. I believe something closer to the truth is that his virtue is in his innocence, which allows him to overlook the bad in people and society. Unintelligent people are not completely incapable of being bigoted or exploitative. In fact, it could be said that those who are unintelligent are more easily manipulated to be that way. Why then does she think that Gump’s virtue is in his stupidity? I believe that Berlant took her point over-the-top in an attempt to add to her argument. This extreme hyperbole of the virtue of Gump’s stupidity is also shown when Berlant writes that “the film seeks to make its audience want to rewrite recent U.S. history into a world that might have sustained a Forrest Gump” (Berlant, 184). It is preposterous to think that we would want a world where the extremely unintelligent were exceedingly capable of success. I believe that Berlant put too much stock into Gump’s sort of rags-to-riches story. Gump’s virtue is not actually in the personality traits that his stupidity causes, but more so in the fact that he is able to carry on and exceed despite his mental deficit.