Media portrays death and dying in a variety of different contexts. Sometimes death is portrayed as a peaceful ending to a long and happy life. Other times death may involve a loved one that lost their battle to cancer at an inconceivable age. The latter, is the circumstance that we are presented with in the motion picture Forrest Gump.
When Forest Gump was released I was a young child and had yet to experience the death of a loved one. While there are multiple scenes in the movie that address death; I can remember relating to one scene in particular. The scene where Forrest visits Jenny’s grave is a powerful scene regarding the death of loved one. I think that this particular scene provides a helpful representation of the grieving process. It seems as though it would be more effective at representing death than other scenes because it appeals to both children and adults. It also helps us grasp the notion that death is constant and universal.
I think this scene is also effective at displaying how society deals with death. The fact that Forrest has Jenny buried in a meaningful place illustrates his love and compassion toward her. Upon further thought it’s easy to realize that burying a loved one under the privacy of a tree allows Forrest to privately deal with his emotions regarding Jenny’s death. This demonstrates a common ritual in our society that allows us to cope with loss. We tend to deny the death of our loved ones on a daily basis. We go about our routines and only grieve and deal with our emotions when we are ready to confront them by visiting a loved one’s grave or a place of significance. Hence, burying our dead in a place where we feel comfortable grieving; a place where we tend to have privacy.
In conclusion, media has the ability to influence both our life and death. It affects how we grasp the concepts regarding death. In addition, it affects how we handle the situation. Although we tend to be a death denying culture, media has a profound influence on us.