Date: Thu, 28 Jul 1994 12:36:20 CDT


Subject: Forrest Gump

Things have been pretty slow here on ADS-L lately. I reckon most people

are away, but for those stay-at-homes whose summer activities have

included a viewing of the new movie version of Forrest Gump, I have a


I'm curious about something. Do the children who were used in the filming

(and seem to me to be among

the few whites in the film who have authentic Southern speech traits)

sound to you like children from the Carolinas (where I believe the filming

was done). They do not sound like any rural Alabamians that I am familiar

with, though the story is supposed to take place in Alabama. Of course some

of them have so few lines that it's hard to tell. Also, whoever coached Tom

Hanks seemed to be using a composite speech model that included the dropping

of post-vocalic /r/ in a way that is upper-crust and is not characteristic

of rural Alabama. And his vowel qualities usually strayed from what one

would expect to hear coming from an Alabamian. Since he's supposed to be

`slow', some of this, I suppose, may be an attempt at creating an idiolect,

but it seems more likely to me that, once more, it is that Yankee audience

that is in mind and must be served up something that resembles their

stereotyped perceptions of Southern speech.

By the way, one of the reasons why the movie was not done in Alabama has

to do with the University of Alabama's refusal of requests for filming on

location at this campus. Aspects of the script was deemed demeaning. For

example, students (other than Gump) were shown to be hostile to attempts

at integration during Wallace's famous "stand at the schoolhouse door"

scene. In fact, majority student opinion at the time favored integration.

(However, this represented a change in opinion from some years earlier

when the first, much less well-known attempt at integration took place

and failed partly because of the near-riotous conditions that prevailed

on campus.) No administrator has said so, but I suspect just as strong a

reason was the less-than-flattering portrayal, however fleeting, of Bear


I will not bore you with my own opinion of the film except to say that I

liked it and that it surely has more to say and much more worth than one would

wrongly be led to believe, as I was, after reading Jerry Adler's superficial

piece on it in the latest Newsweek (Adler even got some important elements of

the storyline confused).

Mike Picone

University of Alabama


are away. But for those whose summer activities have included

a viewing of the new movie version of Forrest Gump, here's a query.