Overall, I thought this article brought out some great points about citizenship and what it means to be "American" that I had never thought of before.
I especially enjoyed the author's discussion on the movie, Forrest Gump. I always knew this movie was commenting on history, but I never realized what these comments were. Probably the most striking point that Berlant made about this movie was what political message Forrest's intelligence level sends. On pages 180 and 181, Berlant points out that Forrest is named after a founder of the KKK. I was pretty shocked when I read this, but Berlant goes on to explain why the writer did this. Berlant writes, "What does it suggest that these nostalgic, familial references to nationally sanctioned racial violence are translated through someone incapable of knowing what they mean?"
Q: This is the question (Berlant's from above) I would like to pose to our class, as well, about this section. I have my own ideas that maybe the writer only intended to be ironic and point out the idiocracy of being so racist, but I'm not sure. What do you guys think.
Also, another idea popped out to me on page 199. Berlant writes:
"Throughout the text the problem of immigration turns into the problem of abject America: we discover that to be an American citizen is to be anesthetized, complacent, unimaginative...for the attainment of safety and freedom from the anxiety for survival...."
It never occurred to me that the American dream could be to be boring and safe. Yes, I've realized my goals are boring and safe sometimes, but I never equated them with the dreams of others. But stepping back to look at it, maybe our dream is stagnant and unchanging. Maybe it is more exciting and hopeful to view your possibilities in America as an immigrant.
Q: What do you guys think of this quote and Berlant's idea of the safe American citizen? Do you think this is true? Depressing? It is changeable from either the citizen or immigrant side?