Within every moment of high school, Forrest Gump is being shown to a class full of students who find themselves laughing and crying with a movie that is scientifically designed to make them exuberant about America. What's not to love about comedic scenes involving cigar-toting warlovers and men obsessed with shrimp recipes? There is solid acting, solid cinematography, a well-rounded story about forgiveness and love, and...wait...his mom slept with the head of the school district to...hmph...he's a baby daddy to a needle-junkie with AIDS...
Okay, enough pandering to my audience. I'm just going to lay it to you straight. It is my firm belief that there is something much more sinister going on in Forrest Gump beneath that sugary exterior we've all come to love. Yes, readers, Forrest Gump is one of the most well crafted horror films ever made. "How can this be?" You ask.
Well, before I can tell you this story, I have to tell you another one.
You see, there was once a time where Tom Hanks was the most profitable leading man in Hollywood. Tom Hanks, being the late baby boomer that he is, was quite popular with his generation at the time this film was made, which is to say, around 1993/1994. You know what else was (and still is) popular?
- Literary Adaptations!
- War Films!
- Road Movies!
- Oscar Bait HIV-Themed Films!
- Sports Movies!
- Racial Integration!
Well, check all of those off the list.
People like to be reminded of how important their time on Earth has been. I respect that, good for us. Some of you may be saying, "Hey, Forrest Gump may be capitalizing on all of those things, but it does a darn good job of it!"
You know what, you're right, this film uses all of those things in a story that is fast-paced and engaging. The audience follows all of the action easily and nothing gets bogged down or confused.
The thing that bothers me, the thing that should be scaring all of you who gave Forrest Gump its $330,000,000 in the box office, all of you who gave it its 6 Academy Awards, is that the film is making fun of all of you.
Yes. Forrest Gump, one of the most beloved American films of the last twenty years, is none other than a big, fat bully pretending to be our friend just so it can douse us with a bucket full of pig's blood. All of those ingredients, all of those things that practically forced all of you to see it, those are the film's weapons.
Forrest Gump, the character, is bordering on retarded (says a spiffy chart from the government!) and only goes to normal school because of the sexual advances of his mother. When he grows up, Gump becomes a nationally recognized football player, a medal of honor recipient, a ping pong champion of the world, a millionaire shrimper, a millionaire stock-trader with Apple, and a deified vagrant when he runs cross country over and again. In other words, Forrest Gump is better than you.
This film, one that baits you with every single trick in the book, is now shoving its all A's report card into the eyes of mostly C average students. And we like it? How can this be? A retarded man accomplishes literally everything any human wants to accomplish by never questioning anybody about anything and running through life following the orders of the government, his college, his parents, and his employers.
Is anybody else disturbed by the message of this film? Because I certainly am.
Let me break it down. Forrest Gump is a man with minimal intelligence. He begins his life simply, you know, teaching Elvis how to dance and teaching Jenny how to swing, but then he finds himself in college, where he is told to play football, never questioning how he will get through college with his limited intellectual capacity (he did to the academic expectations of college what his mother did to the head of his school district). So has he made an independent thought yet?
Well, he likes Jenny.
So college is over, and he immediately (literally) joins the army in order to fight in Vietnam. He enlists because some big guy told him to. Naturally, a man who can do nothing in his life but take orders fits in pretty well in the military.
"Wait, Cameron! You've forgotten! Jenny told him to run away, but he saved those guys in Vietnam and won that medal of honor legitimately!"
No, Bubba offered Forrest a job in the shrimping business. Gump's tour will come to an end and he'll need to work with Bubba because he has no idea how to find a job. If Bubba dies, he has nowhere to go. If he has nobody there to guide him, what's he going to do? In other words, he does not choose to save Bubba, he has to, because his reality depends on the requests of others.
So what happens? Bubba dies. And without that source of dependence, Forrest finds himself in a hospital where a man tells him to play ping pong. He does. And he's good. Because he is never told to stop. So naturally he becomes a world champ because nobody had the common decency to tell him he could sit back down.
Anyway, he goes shrimping even though Bubba died. What else is he going to do? He can't generate independent thought.
Yadda yadda, you get the idea.
The real kick to this film is its insistence that whatever you have done with your life, whatever decision you ever made, that decision was wrong. You see, you should have done nothing. You should have listened to the government and your parents and your college and never, ever stepped out of line or come up with any sort of creative, independent thought.
The perfect American is one that does not ask questions. The perfect American simply does what he is told.
Is this the kind of message you want to teach your kids? Is that what America is all about?
I think Forrest Gump takes place in a horrifying dimension where all independent work is punished, and all work dependent on the motivations of authoritarian figures is rewarded.
This movie shows the audience that everything they have ever done has been wrong. That every opportunity they had was a wasted one, one where they should have just done nothing.
If the message of Forrest Gump is not scary to you, then you are not me.