Forrest Gump is a film directed by Robert Zemeckis and starring Tom Hanks that filters momentous events in world history from the ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s through the lens of a not particularly bright and remarkably literal Southern white man named Forrest Gump. Woodrow Wilson allegedly described the pro-KKK silent epic Birth of a Nation as "writing history with lightning." Forrest Gump, then, is like writing history with mayonnaise.
It smears real history—violent, bloody crucibles like Vietnam and the American Civil Rights Movement—with gloopy white mayo in the form of Hanks’s character and the treacle-y, sentimental screenplay he springs from. The script—the fault of Eric Roth, adapting a novel by Winston Groom—is the real problem here. "I’m sorry I ruined your Black Panther Party" is its neat way of taking, you know, a pivotal and often grossly understood facet of the American past and smearing it with treacle-y sentiment. Nothing to see here, folks, the film says about Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale’s organization—this is just another occasion for the dim-witted white man to steal the show and flatten history into a piece of cardboard for said white man to drool and dribble on.
There’s nothing wrong with turning the pain and suffering of others across time into a joke, so long as it's a good joke. A joke that’s about something, that says something about our particular cultural moment, or offers some insight into how myopic our understanding of the past can be. Forrest Gump remakes history so that you'll sympathize with Tom Hanks. Who the fuck needs that? — Ross Scarano