I’ve always loved the movie Forrest Gump growing up as a little boy to now, it is a classic movie for me. As I watch it now that I am older and just a little more “wiser”, I’ve come to understand more the significance of the message of Forrest Gump that stupid really is what stupid does. You may not be very smart but your actions can make up the difference. It’s what you do that defines who you are, not what you know, and the character Forrest Gump is the perfect example of that.
The movie Forrest Gump is about a boy born in Alabama, who has an I.Q. of 75. Even though Forrest is not the sharpest tool in the shed, he does some incredible things throughout his life.
At the beginning of the movie Forrest is sitting on a bench alone to be joined by a woman who sits next to him waiting for a bus. And as soon as Forrest opens his mouth you can tell that he might be a little slow by the way he misses a social que, clearly showing that the woman doesn’t want to talk. He continues his story anyway and you learn of his amazing life story and all of the trials he goes through and of his childhood best friend and eventual wife Jenny.
Forrest’s life leads him down a path of honor and glory. He plays in the all american football team. He graduates from Alabama State University after which he joins the U.S. army to fight the war in Vietnam. All this time he is doing what he can to see Jenny, protect her, and try get her to stay with him. Jenny never seems to see Forrest as an option for life. Jenny is busy caught up in following her dreams, dreams that end up leading her down a very dark path, due to her own personal choices.
My claim still stands that stupid is as stupid does. A few examples to back up this claim, Forrest, the boy who everyone asks if he is “stupid or something,” does some amazing things. He plays college football and becomes an all american, then joins the army and meets his “best good” friend Bubba, where they decide to create a shrimping business. Though Bubba ends up getting killed, Forrest buys a shrimp boat with all of his ping pong money, the seller of the boast asks, “Are you stupid or something?”, and Forrest’s reply “Stupid is as stupid does, sir”. Forrest sticks to his word to Bubba and becomes a shrimp boat captain, where he is able to make a lot of money and “not have to worry about money no more.” By these examples it is easy to say that Forrest is not stupid.
Jenny on the other hand, does not make smart choices. She starts off in the movie by letting Forrest sit by her on the bus on his first day of school. They grow up together and Forrest falls in love with her, no matter what she does, Forrest loves her. Jenny is stupid because of the way she treats Forrest after they grow up. They both go to college however they go to different colleges. Forrest goes to visit her at school one night, just as jenny is returning from a date. Forrest overhears her in her date’s car and detects she is getting hurt or that she is in some type of danger. So of course he goes over there and pulls jenny’s date off of her, and Jenny is not happy about it. There are several instances throughout the movie where this similar thing happens. Jenny is getting hurt and Forrest “saves” her from the danger at hand. And for all of what Forrest does for Jenny she isn’t very nice to him. She has many opportunities to be with Forrest she could be happy she probably would have lived longer if she would have settled down with him. When she finally settles down with Forrest she is sick with a AIDS, and she has had their child who is now three or four years old. I feel that she is only calling upon Forrest at this time because she knows that she could live with him and not have to worry about money or how the kid is going to end up, granted Forrest is the biological father, She would have been smart to stay with Forrest sooner than she actually did. She could of stayed and they could have raised the son longer together. All and all her life choices were not the smartest and I would mark her as the stupid one.
Stupid really is as Stupid does. Your choices, not what you know, define who you are. You may know that by making a certain choice it will ruin your life; but whether you do it or not determines the outcome. Good choices are made by good and smart people. You don’t have to know much to be considered smart. It is by your actions that defines your intelligence, how you use your wisdom and knowledge is good evidence of how well you understand what you know and how it should change your actions.
Many people may think that following the crowd and living life to the fullest: partying clubbing, and/or traveling is smart to do, while you are young, while you “can.”
However the movie Forrest Gump Suggests otherwise, that partying and living the fast life may not, in fact, be the best idea in the end. By following the life of Forrest’s love (and obsession) Jenny Curran you see the down side in every way of living the fast life. Forrest lives a just-as-thrilling (maybe even more thrilling) life in a much smarter and healthier way.
The movie argues this by following the life of Forrest and Jenny, as you compare and contrast these two lives, you see how Jenny’s life really goes down the drain. The movie gives a concrete example of Jenny’s life and how she is not happy chasing her dreams and living a fast life. Her life is a slippery slope of hard trials and bad choices, that eventually leads her with nowhere else to go but back to Forrest Gump.
The movie first makes this argument by giving quick comparing scenes of Jenny’s and Forrest’s life. Just after Forrest gets out of boot camp, Jenny is kicked out of college for posing for Playboy. This is not even the beginning of Jenny’s slippery slope of a life. But it is where I will begin. After Jenny poses for Playboy, the owner of a strip club saw the pictures and contacts her to come be apart of his strippers. Where she finally gets to be on stage, just her and her guitar playing for a crowd. In Forrest’s words
When Forrest goes to see her “perform” Jenny gets harassed by the guys in the club and Forrest ends up carrying her out of the club in his jacket. As they stand on a bridge Jenny thinks about jumping off the bridge. Here is a good example of the movie making the argument that living the fast life is not so great. Jenny wants to kill herself, luckily she doesn’t.
As the movie compares Forrest and Jenny in their life, you see their priorities. It is clear that Forrest always puts his loved ones first and Jenny puts Forrest and her loved ones last. In Vietnam Forrest is in a platoon with his “best good friend” Bubba, one day while they are out on one of their long walks Forrest’s platoon get in a firefight where they are wildly outnumbered and overpowered. Lt. Dan calls for a retreat when Forrest is told to run. He just runs until he realizes that he is alone which is a"bad thing". Worried about Bubba he runs back to where they were gunned down to find Bubba, Forrest ends up saving his entire platoon or at least those who survived, one of which is Lt. Dan who wants him to leave him there to die with his men but Forrest loves Lt. Dan so he takes him to the safe place. Before he runs off, Lt. Dan orders him to not go back but Forrest ignores orders because he still needs to find Bubba. When Forrest finds Bubba he is injured critically and ends up dying in Forrest’s arms. Another example of when Forrest has his priorities straight. He is on his shrimp boat after he has monopolized the market, he and Lt. Dan are eating dinner when he gets a call from his mamma's maid saying that his mamma is sick. He immediately puts his dinner down and jumps in the water and swims to shore with no hesitation to get to his mamma's side as fast as he can. He doesn’t care about his clothes, what’s in the water, or his business. He cares about mamma and he is going to take care of her no matter what the cost may be. Forrest Gump is a good friend and son, making his life enjoyable and exciting.
Forrest Gump’s life is just as thrilling if not more thrilling than Jenny’s life, their individual lifestyles are completely different. Forrest lives life completely oblivious to the things that he gets to experience. Forrest Gump meets Elvis Presley, (before he became The King) and supposedly teaches Elvis how his famous dance. Forrest plays football for Alabama University, he becomes an all american, for which he gets to meet the President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. After Forrest earns the Congressional Medal of Honor, he again meets the President, this time it’s Lyndon B. Johnson. After Forrest meets the president he unknowingly participates in an anti war rally march on Washington. In the midst of all of this Forrest becomes a Ping Pong wizard, he plays Ping Pong for the country and gets sent to China to play Ping Pong. According to Forrest they are the first Americans to go to China in like “a million years or something.” The last thing that I’ll mention (the list could go on for pages) is that Forrest Runs across America 4 times in 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours. He goes so many places people would die to go to. Forrest’s life is truly epic.
The movie does a great job arguing the point that living the fast life isn’t the best life to live, by giving concrete examples you can easily see how you can be the happiest in life. Putting our priorities in order and making the best out of what we have in life, and by following the lives of Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) and Jenny Curran (Robin Wright), we can see how, “stupid is as stupid does.” Bus as we look at the word stupid, can we conclude that there is more to this simple phrase?
The word “stupid” is thrown around so casually in today’s world, people don’t realize how powerful yet vague this word really is, it is more than just a slang word as an insult. The movie Forrest Gump challenges our culture's discourse on stupidity, particularly the flippant way we use the word stupid, meaning not showing a serious or respectful attitude towards the word.
Tom Benenson's thoughts on stupid pilots, begins to answer some of the questions about stupidity, by relating some stories of pilots that have crashed planes due to “ the action — or inaction — of the pilot or crew.” Captain Cassidy (A blogger) suggest that stupid is more than just actions, she describes important points to consider before determining “stupid ”.
So, what do you mean when you use the word stupid? According to Captain Cassidy we can all generally agree on three things that cause stupidity. The first thing is “overconfidence in one’s abilities or education.” or pride as I like to call it. Pride is a one of the most common causes of stupidity. For example, “ I am going to impress this girl by showing off my basketball skills.” Nothing is more unimpressive than trying to be impressive. The next thing Cassidy points out is “compulsive behavior leading to actions denoting one's loss or lack of self control.” You knew better but you did it anyway, or you couldn’t help but do something anyway. Usually resulting in a stupid choice. And the last thing she adds is “absent mindedness and impractical behavior.” Not paying attention or making things much more complicated than they need to be. While these things are general causes to stupidity, one more that I would add is things with no purpose. These type of things usually waste your time or energy. Something that started out with a purpose or that seemed like a good idea, and in the end turns out to be for not can but not always make you look stupid.
Tom Benenson would agree with Captain Cassidy, on her three points of stupidity. He would probably agree more that Stupidity usually is a result of actions. He writes an article in Flying Magazine called ‘Air work: Stupid is as Stupid Does.’ He relates a few stories of pilots that crashed their planes due “ the action — or inaction — of the pilot or crew.” The stories that he relates go along well with the point Cassidy points out in her article also titled “ Stupid is as Stupid Does.” A pilot was flying over a big lake while on the phone with his buddy in the lake, the pilot told his friend to flash his phone in the sky so he could find him. While the pilot was looking for the cell phone light he dipped his right wing in the water and crashed his plane. This is could be an example of absent mindfulness or perhaps compulsive actions to impress friends. Imagine how this pilot felt as he explained to his wife or boss, what happened when he crashed his plane. Another example that Benenson tells is of a pilot trying to barrel roll his 58 foot plane after attending an aerobatic plane show. The pilot was on his way home with four other passengers on the plane, the plane fell to earth in pieces, resulting in the death of everyone on board. Sad story but stupid, this pilot may have been over confident in his abilities, however his compulsive behavior caused him literally to lose control of the plane. One other pilot crashed his plane out of convenience for a passenger, rather that going to an airport 20 miles away he tried to land at an airport that was covered in a dense fog because the passengers car was parked there. This example is interesting because, this pilot was just trying to be nice and convenient for the passenger which resulted in crashing his plane.
Forrest Gump, Captain Cassidy and Tom Benenson, all add to the meaning of stupid. The meaning of the word stupid is powerful, and should be used with caution. You should consider if this person is educated enough to really be considered stupid, or ask yourself “what is the purpose of this thing?” and if it doesn’t have a purpose find a purpose or do something else.
So what do you mean, stupid? Stupid really is as stupid does, and if your pride, lack of self control, or impractical behavior causes you to look or be stupid then you should reconsider your choice and actions and try to control yourself next time, before you look stupid again.
Benenson, Tom. “Airwork: Stupid is as Stupid Does,” Flying Magazine, September 10
Captain, Cassidy. “Stupid is as Stupid Does.” Patheos.com/blogs. October 29 2015.
Elsevier, “The year 2000 Final Thought- Stupid is As Stupid Does.” Computer and Fraud Security, volume 2000, Issue 12, 2000, pp 17-19
Sternberg, Robert J. "Why Smart People Can Be so Stupid." Chapter one pp 1-24 Why and When are Smart people so Stupid New Haven: Yale University Press, 2002. Print.
Wang, Cynthia S., et al. "Stupid Doctors And Smart Construction Workers: Perspective-Taking Reduces Stereotyping Of Both Negative And Positive Targets." Social Psychological And Personality Science 5.4 (2014): 430-436. PsycINFO. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Ward, Chip. ”Stupid is as Stupid Does.” Catalyst Magazine, January, 1st, 2008.
Zemeckis, Robert. Forrest Gump. Hollywood, CA: Paramount Pictures, 2001.