Home > Uncategorized > Blog #2: Media and Ideology

Blog #2: Media and Ideology

“Forrest Gump” is a heartwarming movie created in the ’90s about the life of the kindhearted man named Forrest Gump who lived (I believe) around the ’70s. As Forrest describes his life story to passerby’s, he reveals a variety of biases about American culture. The first bias I noticed about American culture through this film was the importance of presidents and the favor of or dislike towards several presidents. At the start of the film, Forrest meets president Kennedy. Kennedy is shown in a positive light, which reflects the bias working in favor of American politicians. The positive light shed over Kennedy depicts the support for politicians similar to him. However, about halfway through the film, Forrest meets President Nixon and unknowingly reveals the Watergate Scandal. Nixon is shed in a negative light, portraying the public’s distaste of him at this time. However, I do think this shows the American bias of trust put within a person of power. This bias favors politicians as well, showing how although Nixon made this terrible mistake, other leaders will rule better. Forrest also meets president Johnson to receive a medal of honor after serving in the army in the Vietnam War. This incident obviously portrays politicians in a positive light as well. I think the variety of politicians shown in this film demonstrate how Americans privilege presidents over other people in power, and how the biases about politicians usually work in favor of the presidents and American politics in general.

I also think Forrest Gump shows the American bias towards the military. In American culture, joining the army is often viewed as an honorable position, taking the risk to serve our country. I think the American army is viewed exactly like this in “Forrest Gump.” In the film, the bias favors the army. Forrest meets some lifelong friends in the army, such as Bubba and Dan. And as a soldier Forrest is seen as a brave savior, which is how the military wants the American culture to view their group. The more positive the military appears, the more people that will join.

The final bias I believe “Forrest Gump” demonstrates is the American bias towards sports. Americans typically spend much of their time playing or watching sports. Throughout the movie, Forrest is very skilled in the sports he participates in. Earlier in his childhood, Forrest is a star on his high school football team, and later on he gains a real knack for ping pong and running. I think sports programs benefit from this bias. Watching Forrest perform all of these sports at such amazing levels makes viewers want to watch and see these sports in real life.

Other examples that depict similar biases include “The Hurt Locker” and “Valkyrie.” Both show the bias of the military and politicians. I never realized how media reflects the biases of society and how media alters the way we look at the world. Media ideology has definitely opened my eyes!

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  1. September 21, 2011 at 11:41 pm

    I think your analysis of why Forrest Gump appealed to many, and how it reflected American ideology in the 90s, is very good. However, I think The Hurt Locker and Valkyrie both are films that critique this ideology rather than express it (or, they seem to express an emergent, and diverging, ideology: that war is a catalyst for internal struggles and moral dilemmas, and it isn’t always clear who is a hero. This latter ideology is less likely to support the interests of the powerful). As you note, FG kind of unquestioningly celebrates the military, even as it also addresses (lightly) the real issue of vets who are left with less care than they need. In contrast, Valkyrie shows the problems that occur when people do not question the power and message of the military, and both it and The Hurt Locker foreground moral ambiguity in the context of war (FG pretty much happily glosses over ambiguity, if I’m remembering it right). So, maybe the popularity of these latter films demonstrates that U.S. ideology regarding war is less uniformly positive today, even as some ideas continue in all of these: e.g. the military may not be great, but war, it would seem, is inevitable and a competent and well-armed military is a necessity. Full credit.

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