I was born in 1992, two years before the 1994 film Forrest Gump, six years after the book. My parents didn’t know of the book, but loved the name Forrest and named me such. With total confidence and absolute lack of irony, I can decree that Forrest Gump ruined my life.
My first two years on Earth, the two that I have no way of remembering, were, without a doubt, the best two years of my life. Once 1994 happened, my name became a daily joke that has not ceased for 23 years. The film opened nationwide on July 6, 1994. My entire existence has been a joke for approximately 8,180 days. Can you imagine hearing the same joke for 8,180 days in a row?
Maybe I’m exaggerating, because from ages 2-4, the joke was probably on a tri-weekly basis, depending on the schedule of my nursery school and the humor of my caretakers.
Things really fell apart for me in Kindergarten.
Recess is a time to shine, a period to frolic among peers and erect social building blocks that may very well dictate friendships for years to come. When I think of the idea of recess, I imagine a long hallway leading to double doors, bright sunlight shining through their windows, sounds of laughter coming from the other side. It’s a fantasy of mine, because the reality had far less laughter and many more incidents of children yelling my name, sandwiched between a repeated verb of their choice.
Whenever I do any action, there is an 80% chance someone within a 20-foot radius will patronizingly cheer me on. It’s a Pavlovian response; they simply can’t help it, and I’m left sheepishly laughing along in hopes of drawing the least amount of attention possible. This is one of those situations where speaking out against it will only add fuel to the Olympic-torch-like fire.
Sports stopped being an option around second grade. Any physical activity, for that matter. High School gym class was a minefield of ridicule.
I also learned at an early age to not participate in class. Any time I answered something incorrectly, someone would inevitably reference my intelligence in comparison to the dumb fictional character, many times adopting a faux Southern accent for their execution.
Socially, I never speak about my mother, and February is a confectionery annoyance. It's also dictated that I can never speak to, let alone be interested in, any female named Jenny.
Why do people look up to Forrest Gump so much anyway? His idiocy and complacent attitude led him stumbling through experience after experience, turning him into a pop culture icon, war hero, marketing genius, billionaire, and adequate dad.
This asshole was upset at his life and the way things were going, so he decided to get out of town and go for a run that lasted three and a half years. Three and a half years? Are you kidding me? I’d give anything to leave my shitty world for three and a half days without facing repercussions, let alone become a national hero for it.
And let me tell you, his idiosyncratic phrases do not apply to real life. Where was the shrug it off, “Forrest will be Forrest” attitude of the film when I shit my pants on a date at age 21? Out of all the things my date said to me that night, a nonchalant phrase regarding the occurrence of feces was absolutely not one of them.
Was the film supposed to be hopeful? No matter who you are and where you come from, you can do great things and end up with a happy life? Sure, he cries at the end over Jenny’s grave, but she was an extremely shitty person to him the entire time and he was too stupid to realize it. She didn’t love him; she used him in a moment of vulnerability and then latched onto him at the end of her life so he could pay her AIDS bills and die surrounded by the love she never earned.
I want little Haley Joel Osment as a son; he’s so cute when he over enunciates the “P” in his own last name. The only thing that made everyone be OK with Forrest acting as his child’s caregiver was Forrest’s own self-awareness regarding his stupidity.
I’ve gotten mixed signals through this movie, as I don’t know how to live my life anymore. Should I be blissfully ignorant, or should I be astoundingly self-aware? Should I give up all my responsibilities and run, or should I hope that I have some unknown talent I haven’t discovered yet and let that be my golden ticket. Should I leave it all to chance? Should I let it all go and hope that this world, in the end, will do right by me? That this whole mess of the world will make sense in the end if I just keep my head down and plod through?
I am defined by something indefinable. None of you have this problem, but I want you to know it exists. Except for the other Forrest’s of the world, no one else faces this daily comparison. We are bound; controlled by an imaginary legacy. And you thought being a “Jr.” was hard.