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An Analysis of Forrest Gump

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The movie Forrest Gump stars Tom Hanks as a considerate, yet somewhat simple man, who sits down on a bus stop bench and tells his fascinating life story to basically anyone

who will listen. This movie is much different then the typical box office hits, which is why I chose it to analyze, it addresses many different social issues from Forrest Gumps innocent yet, matter-of-fact point of view.

In the movie Forrest deals with some private troubles that had impact on Forrest’s life were his low IQ, and having a physical disability in childhood. Having a low IQ, Forrest

had to deal with many different obstacles that a person of average intelligence would not experience, Forrest was faced with verbal abuse from many of the people that he

interacted with including his peers, authority figures, and strangers. One of the most common phrases in the movie “Are you crazy? Or just plain stupid?” demonstrates that society views him as stupid.

When Forrest was a child, he was told that he needed to wear leg braces due to his back

being extremely crooked, this so-called “disability” forced him to endure physical and emotional anguish at the expense of classmates and the community, in fact the phrase

“Run Forrest run” stemmed from his “need” to wear braces. On Forrest’s first day of school he was immediately identified as being different, and therefore he was shunned by all but one little girl named Jenny. Jenny and Forrest quickly became good friends, Jenny knew that Forrest was different and took it upon herself to protect him from bullies, Jenny yelling “Run Forrest run” was a key phrase in Forrest’s life, allowing him to shed the disability label and gain empowerment at the same time. From that point on Jenny played a large important role in Forrest’s life, with Forrest being somewhat of a support for system for her too. When Jenny was young her mother died, leaving her Father to raise her, she endured physical, emotional, and sexual abuse while in his care and often relied on Forrest to help her “escape” emotionally from her life.

This was the pattern that the two followed throughout their lives, Jenny protecting Forrest from society, and Forrest protecting Jenny from the many hazards that she surrounded herself with, including abusive partners, promiscuity, and drugs. As a result of Forrest being different, he was faced with invisible walls, such as racism which was due to his intelligence and disableism which was related to his physical appearance. Facing these invisible walls, inevitably forced him into overlapping oppression, however it didn’t last very long. Forrest’s mother was always telling him “stupid is as stupid does” this helped Forrest avoid disempowering situations with people who would call him stupid and call down his intelligence, and Forrest’s childhood friend Jenny, helped Forrest to shed his leg braces and run, leaving behind oppression and moving towards empowerment.

I believe that the power in this movie is somewhat disguised; I initially thought that Jenny had power over Forrest but as I thought about it more I realized that the main power holders in his life are authority figures such as his army Lieutenant , or his Mother and the type of power that I see as being evident is legitimate power. Forrest seems to need a certain amount of this power in his life, and appears to be close to those who demonstrate it, I feel this is due to his low IQ.

In Forrest’s life the role of ideological power is held by society; Forrest is not considered to be desirable due to his simple beliefs and ideas. People that he comes into contact with throughout his life are uncomfortable with the way he is and would rather interact with people who have a higher intelligence level and a more appropriate way of dealing with things. The use of language in this movie makes this very apparent, Forrest uses simple language and repeats quotes that his mother says when he is uncomfortable with a situation for example; when asked “are you crazy or just plain stupid?” Forrest would always reply with “my mama always says, stupid is as stupid does” , I often wondered if Forrest really even knew what it meant or if he just felt more comfortable with the situation when he said it.

There was also times when Forrest did not seem to fully understand the tone of sentences that people would say to him, like when the president said humorously in regards to Forrest getting shot in the butt, “I would like to see that sometime” Forrest then on National live T.V pulled his pants down and showed the President his scar. This could also be an example of his lack of social awareness.A character in this story that I felt I could relate to, would be Forrest Gump’s mother, she

was a single mum who loved her child very much and would go to any lengths for her son, she taught him that all people are equal, nobody is better than anyone one else despite what they may or may not have. Although I feel that I can relate to this character, I don’t feel that I can specifically identify with any character in this movie , I don’t have any internalized dominance issues as I believe every person is entitled to their beliefs and no one is superior to any one else, I also wasn’t made aware of my own internalized oppression when examining the different character roles. A character whom I found to be completely unlikable was the role of the school Principal. The school Principal had a very minor part in this movie yet it had a lasting impact on me; when Forrest Gumps mother tried to have him entered in to a school the Principal initially denied him based on his low IQ levels, Forrest’s mother, only wanting the best for her son, slept with the Principal to have her son accepted. To me this is a

huge abuse of his power and should never have happened. A person who is in authority and control of a situation, should not use it to better themselves but instead he should’ve either conditionally accepted Forrest or referred him to another school. I made assumptions and judgments about this character; I see him as being a person who enjoys using his power to get what he wants and if I was in a helping relationship with him I would find that I would only be comfortable if I knew that I was in a position of authority over him. This may sound controlling, and it might very well be, but think with people like that you should be careful to always have the upper hand, as you never know what they may try to do.

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