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Disabled People in “Forrest Gump” Film by Zemeckis


In the modern world, there is a wide range of opinions on factors that help to distinguish between mediocre unremarkable films and movie masterpieces that challenge viewers’ minds and, therefore, impact their views of life. Some viewers tend to be enraptured with abstract ideas that can be understood in different ways whereas others value the depiction of real-life situations that make them look at common things from a different perspective. Forrest Gump presents a drama film that possesses both qualities mentioned. On the one hand, the movie under consideration refers to a great number of controversial and ambiguous topics in an attempt to reconcile the contraries to show that life is always multifaceted. Among the brightest examples of such device are the unique blend of “divine retribution” and the incredible luck of the main character. On the other hand, the given movie can be called a masterpiece that changes people’s attitude to the nature of learning disabilities. The topic of the given essay is the representation of people with learning difficulties and divine intervention in Forrest Gump. The movie challenges the superiority theory of humor and changes people’s attitude to learning difficulties by depicting the presence of divine intervention and Forrest’s incredible ability to fall on his feet.

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Many articles by modern researchers regard the movie as the work that exaggerates things to change viewers’ attitude to people with disabilities and their talents. For instance, in her article on humor and superiority in the movie, Leonard states that many artistic devices used in Forrest Gump serve the purpose of making people more fair-minded when it comes to opportunities and disability (69). To sum up the key points of the source, the author pays focused attention to an unusual way of representing people with learning disabilities. Based on the author’s reflections, this approach challenges common stereotypes about individuals who perceive this world differently and, in some way, violates the taboos to illustrate the main character’s unfeigned sincerity and unfailing optimism.

The movie actively uses hyperboles and awkward situations in order to show that individuals with disabilities are erroneously perceived as people who cannot make breakthroughs in multiple areas. Thus, Stone pays attention to the representation of religion and supernatural power in various movies including Forrest Gump (1). To him, the theme of divine intervention is widely presented in the movie because the protagonist seems to be shielded from serious problems.

Disabled Characters and Expectations

Forrest Gump shows that people with special needs have versatile personalities and multiple talents. It is especially important when it comes to the promotion of diversity – unfortunately, many script writers make such characters rather boring because too much attention is paid to their disabilities. It is clear from the scene with Elvis Presley and other famous people of the past century that Forrest has an incredible talent to inspire others by his ingeniousness and perfect veracity. An important thing about the main character, Leonard believes, is that he is “able to accomplish the unexpected” (71). To put it in other words, “normal” people around him are often disoriented due to their own stereotypes about individuals who have disabilities. These stereotypes make everyone believe that such person should make a Herculean effort to become successful. Nevertheless, Forrest seems to achieve everything because of the frankness that is natural to him. These facts and opinions support the thesis as Forrest’s talents make non-disabled viewers question their advantage over people with special needs.

The Theory of Superiority

Another important thing about the movie is that it changes the perceptions of disability by exaggerating the differences between Forrest and other people. To illustrate this tendency, it is necessary to compare the lifestyles and values of Forrest and his beloved Jenny. She seems to be a normal girl who has particular life goals: earn money and change her life completely. Nevertheless, as a young woman, Jenny suffers because she feels that her life is senseless. Even being “normal”, she tends to make every problem too complicated and run to extremes – as a result, she is living a marginal lifestyle because of her weak will. At the same time, Forrest “chooses to combat the limitations”, and this decision makes him successful (Leonard 70). Leonard believes that the audience starts rejecting the theory of superiority “the more we recognize Forrest as an admirable character” (70). The viewer suddenly realizes that Forrest, despite his strange habits and fixation on certain activities, is happier and even wiser than others. It challenges the superiority theory as viewers start laughing at themselves because they cannot achieve the same success even being healthy.

Forrest’s Supernatural Good Luck

Forrest Gump is shown as an incredibly lucky man, and it also makes him different from other characters who regard him as a simpleton. Lady Luck is always kind to him, and Forrest even seems to be protected by divine power in some scenes. For instance, only Forrest’s shrimp boat survives after Storm Carmen and these events make him the first in the shrimping business. At this point, his good luck takes a form of the divine intervention. It is important to take this scene into account when analyzing the movie because it is yet more proof that sincere people with good intentions can be rewarded in this life. According to Stone who focuses on the representation of religion in famous movies, this scene from Forrest Gump presents a good example of “righteous violence carried out by a divine being” (11). The researcher regards the storm as the representation of God who imposes justice and takes mercy on Forrest who looks sinless if compared to other characters in the movie. Thus, it shifts the attention of the society from his disability to his sincerity that deserves a reward.


As is clear from the movie and the opinions of modern researchers, the humor of Forrest Gump makes viewers see individuals with disabilities as unique and optimistic people who get a reward from life due to their sincerity. The particular tasks that the movie fulfills in order to change the attitude to individuals with learning difficulties include showing that such people easily overcome expectations of others and the presence of divine intervention. Apart from that, it challenges the theory of superiority and makes the audience understand that this character deserves respect due to his open-heartedness, sincerity, and the clearness of purpose. All these qualities make Forrest compare favorably with other characters who often underestimate him. Being one of the most appreciated movies of the twentieth century, Forrest Gump depicts many stereotypes about the behavior of people with learning disabilities Despite that, the elastic temperament of the protagonist helps him to realize the American dream without stabbing other people in the back.

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Works Cited

Leonard, Kristen. “Superiority Theory, Humor’s Messianic Power, and Changing the Situation in Forrest Gump.” Literary Undergraduate Research, vol. 6, 2016, pp. 69-76

Stone, Bryan. “Religion and Violence in Popular Film.” Journal of Religion & Film, vol. 3, no. 1, 2016, pp. 1-24.

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"Disabled People in “Forrest Gump” Film by Zemeckis." StudyCorgi, 21 Dec. 2020,

1. StudyCorgi. "Disabled People in “Forrest Gump” Film by Zemeckis." December 21, 2020.


StudyCorgi. "Disabled People in “Forrest Gump” Film by Zemeckis." December 21, 2020.


StudyCorgi. 2020. "Disabled People in “Forrest Gump” Film by Zemeckis." December 21, 2020.


StudyCorgi. (2020) 'Disabled People in “Forrest Gump” Film by Zemeckis'. 21 December.

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