The Gump Effect
I hate The Lion King. I hate Family Guy. I hate The Green Mile and most importantly I hate Forrest Gump. Why I hear you ask? Because of what I call the Gump Effect. Now I understand what I am about to describe probably already has some TV Tropes or internet meme name, but I continue nonetheless as it’ll always be the Gump effect to me; my endless personal, and in no way trivial, battle.
I first watched Forrest Gump a few years ago and I found it cheap, gimmicky and amateur in its audience manipulation. The film won’t decide if it wants to be a globetrotting historical adventure, a serious or mocking discussion of mental health, or a feel good movie or a serious look at the traumas of life. It’s all of them I hear you say? Yes but it sucks at combining them, and despite this eclecticism it still manages to be generic Hollywood filmmaking fare, with director Robert Zemeckis pouring in Spielbergian schmaltz into the muck.
However I didn’t dislike the film, I just didn’t like it. I didn’t mind it or care about it. I described my apathy to some people/rabid fans within circles. They reacted like I was some sort of freak. Opinions don’t come from within, they come from the expectations of others for you to engage in their nostalgia. (I’m looking at you Lion King Fans.) I felt stupid, and then angry, had I missed something? Does no one care to maintain critical distance?! Does it matter if someone dislikes a beloved film? This constant disbelieving challenges to my dislike of Forrest Gump drove me to hate it. This is what I call the Gump Effect; when the fans of a certain property give you a hard time for not sharing their popularised views.
I didn’t love or hate Lion King, then came Gump Effect. I didn’t care about Family Guy, then came Gump Effect. I slightly disliked the pretentiously long ‘magical Negro’ trope abusing extravaganza that is Green Mile, but again the disbelief of those around me pushed me into full on hate.
I know others have experienced this same thing, what have you experienced the Gump effect with? When your nonchalance about a film or TV property was gets transformed by others into some conspiracy against nostalgia and happiness? This must be how British people who don’t like Doctor Who must feel. I have yet to watch Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones, what happens if I am unaffected by them?
In my own rigorous scientific tests I’ve found the Gump Effect can be doubled by pre-viewing hype. My research also details how the effect is tripled if the film is aimed at children. Don’t lie here, how many of you find my dislike of Lion King inconceivable? I am terrified to watch Frozen for this very reason.
Is true in-depth film and television criticism dead? Or just relegated to some sort of cultural naughty step? I loved The Avengers but I am willing to pretend to hate it if it will save the world from the tyranny of the Gump Effect.