History VS Hollywood: Historical Accuracy in "Forrest Gump"

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History VS Hollywood: Historical Accuracy in "Forrest Gump" essay
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Table of contents

  1. Historical inaccuracies in Forrest Gump
  2. Summary and conclusion
  3. References

Forrest Gump which was released in 1994 follows a young man’s story through major events in the 1950s to the 1990s. In Forrest Gump, it reviews the Vietnam War, desegregation, anti-war protests, and many other historical events. From the hippie movement to Vietnam to the JFK Assassination to the desegregation of the University of Alabama are all events that happened in the late 20th century that changed the world as it is today. Although Forrest Gump and many other characters are not real the events that are portrayed throughout this film are very accurate, Forrest Gump is more Hollywood than history.

Historical inaccuracies in Forrest Gump

The main events that happened throughout this film that will be reviewed are the Watergate Scandal, Congressional Medal of Honor, Apple products, Smiley Face products, Elvis Presley and the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. The Watergate Scandal was during June of 1972 when there was a break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters which led to revealed abuses of power by the Nixon administration. This scandal was first brought to the public when several robbers were arrested by the Democratic National Committee guards which are located in the Watergate building complex in Washington D.C.

They were connected to the Nixon reelection campaign. The robbers were caught wiretapping phones and sneaking documents. In August of 1974 when Nixon who had been trying to cover up this story was proven guilty, he resigned from the presidency. Soon after the break-in, the burglars were paid thousands of “hush money” or money they were paid to not tell any truths. This case was mainly solved by Washington Post reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and the CIA. The CIA stands for Central Intelligence Agency.

In Forrest Gump, Forrest is unable to fall asleep because people were using flashlights which were bright and blinding. He was staying in a hotel in the Watergate complex. Forrest called the front desk about the disturbance who then called the police. The lights were coming from the burglars who broke into the Democratic National Committee Headquarters. In reality, no one reported the lights except for the guards working in the complex especially not as a guest a hotel across the street.

Another historical inaccuracy was when Forrest Gump sees Lt. Dan after serving in the Vietnam War and told him that he was receiving the “Congressional Medal of Honor.” While people did get many awards for serving in the Vietnam War, there is no such award as the “Congressional Medal of Honor.” There is an award called the “Medal of Honor” which is awarded in the name of Congress but no “Congressional Medal of Honor.” The “Medal of Honor” is the highest award for soldiers who achieved in action against an enemy force while fighting. Although Forrest was awarded for a heroic action in the Vietnam War he did not receive the “Medal of Honor” from the president. In the movie, the scene that they were showing is when Sammy L. Davis was awarded by the current president Lyndon B. Johnson. Davis was awarded for rescuing several soldiers in Vietnam and was wounded in the buttocks like Forrest Gump.

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Another event that shows that Forrest Gump is more Hollywood than history is when Forrest invests with Lieutenant Dan in Apple. In the letter that Forrest receives the date says that the letter was written in 1975. Apple was founded on April 1, 1976. This would make it impossible for Lieutenant Dan and Forrest Gump to invest because the company just didn’t exist yet.

An event that shows that “Forrest Gump” is more Hollywood than History is when Forrest inspires a desperate t-shirt salesman when he wipes his dirty face on a plain t-shirt created a smiley face. The smiley face was created in Worcester, Massachusetts by a graphic artist named Harvey Ross Ball about 50 years ago. This design was finished in under 10 minutes and was paid $45 for this artwork. The smiley face design went on to be signs, posters, and buttons. This design encouraged people to have a positive outlook and overall to just smile more. Although this particular scene in Forrest Gump was supposed to be portrayed about 50 years ago which makes the timing correct when this design was made, Forrest did not create this popular design that is still extremely common today.

In the film, young Forrest inspired or taught Elvis Presley his signature move at his home which also served as a bed and breakfast. This part of Forrest Gump is completely Hollywood. Tom Hanks’s character and who the story is centered around, Forrest Gump, don’t exist and the town he lived in Greenbow, Alabama didn’t exist either. Elvis Presley thought of this move himself and maybe something did inspire but we don’t know. It definitely wasn’t Forrest Gump!

Lastly, a scene from the movie, Forrest Gump, that proves that this film is more Hollywood than history is the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Forrest and Lieutenant Dan establishes Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. because of Forrest’s promise to Bubba who was a fellow soldier in the Vietnam War before he died to create a shrimping company. During this scene, it shows Forrest and Dan on the ocean off the coast of the southern United States off of Bayou La Batre which was Bubba’s hometown and is actually a real town in Mobile Country, Alabama which is on the Gulf of Mexico. During this part of the movie, their shrimping boat, Jenny, is on the water while the hurricane starts. The boat is slightly destroyed and blown on to the shore with dozens of other shrimping boats.

Because the other shrimping businesses were destroyed by the storm, Bubba Gump Shrimp Company blossomed since there was no business competition. Although the hurricane did affect the south’s shrimp business and destroyed parts of the coasts of the southern United States there was no such business as Bubba Gump Shrimp Company with owners Forrest Gump and Lieutenant Dan. In 1996, a restaurant chain called Bubba Gump Shrimp Company was created with 40 locations all over the country and in Japan. This film, Forrest Gump, which was created in 1994 inspired this restaurant. Bubba Gump Shrimp Company in the movie was an example of Hollywood but did portray the events and experiences of shrimping companies in the Gulf of Mexico especially in Alabama from Hurricane Carmen.

Summary and conclusion

This film, Forrest Gump, follows a young man through major events in the United States ranging from the 1950s to 1990s. Most of the events are accurately portrayed but some events are added or exaggerated to make this movie more exciting and appealing which shows that Forrest Gump is more Hollywood than history. These events include the Watergate Scandal where they had Forrest Gump call the police about the break-in when in reality it was the guards of the National Democratic Committee did. Another inaccuracy that supports this claim that this film is more Hollywood than history is the Congressional Medal of Honor. The name of the award was changed from the Medal of Honor but Forrest’s victory in the war which he was awarded for was based on Sammy L. Davis in the Vietnam war.

Davis was awarded the Medal of Honor by the current president at the time who was Lyndon B. Johnson. In addition, another event is the creation of Apple products. Although Apple did have many investors who made huge sums of money extremely quickly it was not created in 1975 which was the year that Forrest got his first check from Apple. Apple was created in 1976 which supports this claim. Also, Forrest is said to have created the smiley face products. This is incorrect and more Hollywood because the design was created in Worcester, Massachusetts by Harvey Ross Ball not Forrest Gump. In the film, Forrest Gump, Forrest is a young boy and teaches Elvis Presley a dance move which eventually becomes what Elvis is best known for. This is Hollywood because there is no person as Forrest Gump and he definitely did not teach Elvis to dance since he just didn't exist!

Lastly, Forrest and Lt. Dan found Bubba Gump Shrimp Company which was not a real company at the time the movie was created. This scene did showcase a major part of American history which was Hurricane Carmen and how it affected the shrimping business of the Gulf of Mexico. Although Forrest Gump was a made up person his character did accurately show major events in the late 20th century, there were several scenes or aspects of the movie that were not accurate. This supports that Forrest Gump which was released in the United States in 1994 by Robert Zemeckis is more Hollywood than history.


  1. Graff, G. (1994). ‘Forrest Gump’ as a cultural metaphor. Journal of Popular Film and Television, 22(4), 151-156. https://doi.org/10.1080/01956051.1994.9943864
  2. Yuen, W. (2016). The myth of ‘Forrest Gump’: Analysis of the film’s ideological implications. Journal of Popular Culture, 49(2), 364-378. https://doi.org/10.1111/jpcu.12401
  3. Adair, V. (2006). Politics, Hollywood, and the Vietnam War: A consideration of Oliver Stone’s Platoon and Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. Journal of American Studies, 40(3), 545-561. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0021875806002405
  4. Chong, D. (1998). Forrest Gump: Postmodernism and a film from the margins. Postmodern Culture, 9(2). https://doi.org/10.1353/pmc.1998.0037
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  6. Ko, Y. (2014). ‘Stupid is as stupid does’: Anti-intellectualism in Forrest Gump. Journal of American Culture, 37(2), 237-246. https://doi.org/10.1111/jacc.12120
  7. Anderson, M. (2010). From page to screen: A case study of Forrest Gump. Journal of American Culture, 33(1), 18-26. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1542-734x.2010.00748.x
  8. Belton, J. (1994). ‘Forrest Gump’ and the new humanism. Sight and Sound, 4(10), 10-13.
  9. LaSalle, M. (1994). Film review: Running with the pack – ‘Forrest Gump’ an unlikely triumph. San Francisco Chronicle.
This essay is graded:
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Expert Review
The essay provides a detailed analysis of the historical inaccuracies in the film ""Forrest Gump"" and argues that the movie is more Hollywood than history. The writer discusses specific events portrayed in the film, such as the Watergate Scandal and the creation of Apple products, and highlights the discrepancies between the movie and actual historical events. The essay also points out the fictional elements in the film, such as the character of Forrest Gump himself and the establishment of the Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Overall, the essay provides a well-structured and informative analysis of the historical inaccuracies in ""Forrest Gump.""
minus plus
What can be improved
1) The essay could benefit from a clearer introduction that sets up the main argument and provides a brief overview of the film. 2) The essay could also benefit from a stronger thesis statement that clearly states the main argument that the film is more Hollywood than history. 3) The essay could provide more evidence and examples to support the argument that the film is more Hollywood than history. This could include additional historical events portrayed in the film that are inaccurately depicted. 4) The essay could also provide more analysis and discussion of the implications of these historical inaccuracies in the film. How do these inaccuracies affect the audience's understanding of history? 5) The conclusion could be strengthened by summarizing the main points of the essay and restating the thesis statement. It could also provide a more conclusive statement about the overall impact of the film's historical inaccuracies."
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History VS Hollywood: Historical Accuracy in "Forrest Gump" essay

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