Presentation on theme: "Vietnam War Film.(2): Forrest Gump Forgetting History by Re-writing it."— Presentation transcript:
Vietnam War Film.(2): Forrest Gump Forgetting History by Re-writing it
Starting Questions 1. What do you think about the following famous lines from the film? e.g. "Stupid is as stupid does"; "Mama always said life was like a box a chocolates, never know what you're gonna get." 2. What do you think about the ways history gets presented in this film (e.g. Vietnam war, the Hippie generation, Watergate, Ping- pong diplomacy, etc.)? And the views of history? 3. What do you think about the relationship between Jenny and Forrest? And the way the blacks are presented?
Outline Forrest as a Disadvantaged PersonDisadvantaged Person Forrest in American History –even a fool plays a role.American History Forrest as a savior to the People around himas a savior Why is the film so popular? (wins Oscar in 1995; 阿甘精神 was popular in Taiwan, too.) Why is the film so popular References
Forrest as a person and his Mother Three parts in his life: 1) discriminated against; 2) lucky and persistent; 3) helpful and influential (without knowing why) (1) The mother’s practical wisdom; Mrs. Gump: You have to do the best with what God gave you. Life was like a box a chocolates, never know what you're gonna get. You are no different from the others. "Stupid is as stupid does“ Forrest – turns disadvantages into advantages by persisting and mere physical strength; e.g. running, eating ice-cream when wounded in the buttocks; stays through the storm (“God showed up”) on the shrimping boat.
Forrest and American History: His Intersections with History— Or Signs and Stereotypes in History 1.History = chance (floating on a breeze) and destiny 2.History = luck
(2) Lucky Coincidences Civil Rights Movement -- the first Black female student enters the University of Alabama, Forrest carries her books. Political Assassination -- football team all the VIP’s-- JF Kennedy (mentioning the others being assassinated: Robert Kennedy, George Wallace, John Lennon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan are all equalized as victims of lunatics but not Martin Luther King or Malcolm X) (*clip 1)
(2) Lucky Coincidences -- Vietnam: (*clip 2) 1) The good thing about Vietnam is there was always someplace to go.” 2) Simplification of Anti-war movement, Jenny (“If you’re going to San Francisco” the flower generation) and the Black Panther. 2) Withholding interpretation: -- Forrest’s speech -- Linton Johnson -- acceleration of involvement in Vietnam
Forrest’s Intersections with History—Or Signs and Stereotypes in History the All-American Ping Pong team “somebody said that world peace was in our hands. But all I did was play ping- pong.” -- meets Richard Nixon sees the men with flashlights in the darkened offices of Democratic Headquarters cannot sleep reveals the watergate event.
Undifferentiated Association with Celebrities and Politics Nathan Bedford Forrest -- whom Forrest identifies as one of his own ancestors, as a "great Civil War hero," and as the founder of the Ku Klux Klan. Forrest's explanation – a club of men who ran around in bedsheets, pretending to be "ghosts or spooks or something.“ He sounds baffled by this, and says his Momma chose his name "to remind me that sometimes we all do things that, well, just don't make no sense."
Celebrities and Politics Presley – initiated the dance steps Lennon Lennon (clip 3) – the source of “Imagine”: Forrest’s talking about China "Some years later that nice young man from England was on his way home to see his little boy” assassinated for no particular reason
Forrest and History Forrest – powerless and passive; influential accidentally. History as chancy and purposeless Forrest does not act purposely, nor mean to change things (only wanting to rescue Jenny.) History presented as a mess, filled with mad people killing others, and lost souls wandering around. a very superficial and stereotypical presentation of counter-culture and the war.
(3) Forrest’s Influence on the Others around him Forrest => passive, obedient, run away from trouble, incomprehensive Why does Forrest turn to be a savior? -- Lieutenant Dan -- Bubba -- Jenny -- the followers
Bubba & Lieutenant Dan Bubba – His Mama Shrimp business Dan –violent, depressed, self- indulgent. -- commanding on the boat -- mad in the storm, shouting to the ‘enemies’ (like Emmet in In Country) -- surviving his trauma because of Forrest.
Jenny Molested as a child; Wants to be a folk singer:“Her dream had come true. She was a folk singer. ” Rescued by Forrest many times. “You can’t keep doing it, Forrest,” Jenny. On the road hippie, anti-war activist in the Black Panther group, drug addict, Prostitute AIDS patient. Jenny: "How could you do it?" throw stones at the tumble- down house; "You don't want to marry me." In the novel, she is not ill but she chooses to leave Forrest. In the film, Forrest gets the house bulldozed.
Why Does Forrest Run after Jenny leaves him? "for world peace... for the homeless... for women's rights... or for the environment... or for animals....?" His responses: “. I just felt like running." "My momma always said you got to put the past behind you before you can move on. And I think that's what my runnin' was all about." “Shit happens.” Smiley. Gives people hope.
Why is the film so popular? The film as the “re-membering” of patriarchy (Byers) appropriated by political conservatives and the uses to which it was put to further the Republican "revolution." (Wang) –e.g. their call for family values
Loss of ‘masculinity” in U.S.Society "sixties“ – (Cf. Byers) The loss of the Vietnam War the rise of late capitalism's global economy and the concomitant demise of American economic dominance and security and of men's capacities to be sole breadwinners; the reconfiguration of the family, certain aspects of the sexual revolution, and the emergence of second-wave feminism and gay liberation as concerted political and cultural threats to that masculinity's traditional prerogatives.
Conservatives’ ‘revolution’ in the 80’s and 90’s (For your reference) ‘Acting as a "discursive relay station," Gump's presentation of the sixties counterculture thus reinforced the discourse of disease and social abnormality that conservatives (i.e. the Republicans represented then by Clintom and Gore) rhetorically associated with liberals. Conservatives used Gump and its selective spotlight on sixties images to identify publicly the source of the disease-- [End Page 104] the feminization and racialization of post-sixties culture.’ (Wang 104-105)
Conclusion What the film does to history: (Cf. Byers) “In this periodizing and othering, supersession of the bad father and subordination of the (temporarily) independent woman, patriarchal fantasies of presence and selfhood, succession and superiority, are re-membered and restored. ”
References Jennifer Hyland Wang. "A Struggle of Contending Stories": Race, Gender, and Political Memory in Forrest Gump Cinema Journal 39.3 (2000) 92-115 Thomas B. Byers “History Re-Membered: Forrest Gump, Postfeminist Masculinity, and the Burial of the Counterculture” Modern Fiction Studies 42.2 (1996) 419-444