Artistic defects in “Forrest Gump”.

There are plenty, I’m sure, and I say this as a huge fan of the film. But when it was trending on Twitter last night whilst being shown on TVa friend made an observation that shone new light on a major moment and really recoloured my possible perception of things. She was referring to the scene in which Jenny climbs into bed with Forrest, they make love and their son is conceived before her death from cancer follows in due course. In light of Forrest’s evident mental limitations, is there not at least something mildly disturbing about the ease with which Jenny – and the film – decides it’s perfectly permissible and natural and loving for her to come onto him in that way? Yes, they have a deep historical bond of friendship, and if there’s anyone he romantically loves it is her. But that’s what might make it only the more exploitative. A significant impression is created throughout the film that Forrest is an inherently asexual being, most probably incapable of processing the meaning of such intimate activity. I’m not looking for a probing philosophical analysis here of the necessary conditions for the exercise of consent and whether the mentally handicapped qualify. Nor do I expect such insights from any film. But the way an event so essential to the narrative and the audience’s emotional responses is passively portrayed, not provoking us to wonder about the ethically ambiguous terrain here, is undoubtedly a defect. I’m amazed that, from a quick Google, nobody seems to have explored this before.

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