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July 1994


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Andrew Gordon <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 10 Jul 1994 22:33:25 EDT
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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  I am interested in getting responses from those who have seen
Forrest Gump.  The film attempts an epic overview of American history
since WW II.  In the process, it is highly political, although often
in a jokey, superficial, or caricatured manner.  What particularly
bothered me was the politics of the film:  it made fun of easy,
obvious targets like Birth of a Nation and southern bigots and also
presented Forrest as color-blind, a protagonist whose best friend is
a black man.  Nevertheless, the film caricatures black militants in
its presentation of the Black Panther party, a scene that I found
highly offensive.  The implicit message seemed to be that blacks are
O.K. in established institutions (the military, the church, the schools)
but beware if they get "extremist."   The same caricaturing occurred in
the presentation of hippies and the antiwar radicals, who are presented
as ridiculous or repugnant.  This is yet another film reacting
against sixties radicalism.  What gets affirmed is Forrest Gump's
devotion to God, country, and traditional family values.
Making the hero into a lucky idiot enables the film to disguise its
fundamental conservatism.  I would like to know how others read this film.
Andrew Gordon