Forrest Gump

Forrest Gump Disability in Forrest Gump

While many consider Forrest Gump to be a classic American film, inspiring and heartwarming, the film has faced both criticism and acclaim for its portrayal of disability. Forrest is mentally disabled, with an IQ of 75, and he finds disabled friends in both Bubba and Lieutenant Dan (after he loses his legs). Some people have celebrated the film's sensitive portrayal of the struggles of disability, while others have suggested that it is an insensitive portrait.

In an article in Forbes, Kristen Lopez writes, "...the film takes a shot at humanity’s own cruelty and distaste for the disabled. During a scene at New Year’s Dan and Forrest are in a hotel room with two women. When Forrest doesn’t want to do anything the women get angry, leaving Dan to defend Gump. In a fit of anger, Dan falls out of his wheelchair, leading to a slew of insults and laughter from the women. At this moment, the audience is meant to be reminded of their own cruelty and how those with disabilities are belittled and pitied." In her view, as a writer with disability, the film sought to expose the hardships disabled individuals face.

However, others suggest that the film does a disservice to the disabled, with many criticizing the sentimental depiction of Forrest's limitations as well as the filmmakers' choice to cast non-disabled actors in disabled roles. In an article for The Los Angeles Times published in 1995, Art Blaser wrote, "Gump fits Hollywood standards because he is a neat, young, straight, white American male. He controls his saliva, drinks cola and, except at the opportune time and for a very understandable reason, his urine and bowels. In contrast, real disabled people may be messy, of any age, race or gender and may be addicted to drugs or alcohol. Also unlike real disabled people, who are easily depressed in a world that will not understand them, Gump is always happy."