The song “Fortunate Son” was featured in the hit movie Forrest Gump, a story about a young man who was always different from the rest of the kids in Greenbow, Alabama. He a bit slow but he had a magnificent heart, he was in love with a woman named Jenny and would follow her anywhere. Along his journey he stumbled into playing college football which resulted in him graduating from the University of Alabama. On his graduation day he was approached by a soldier who suggested him to enter the army. He took this opportunity and entered the army, the scene that is significant to this essay when Forrest Gump and his best friend, Bubba, were flown to station in Vietnam This is the scene when the song “Fortunate Son” first appears. In the movie Bubba would be seen as the unfortunate man which The Creedence Clearwater Revival preach about in their beautiful song, Bubba was a poor humble man who dreamed of being the captain of a shrimp boat, he later dies in the movie proving the point that the unfortunate man pays the ultimate price in the battle field. When listening to this song without any sense of history or knowledge of Benjamin’s theory of aura an individual would not appreciate the song as well. I am a prime example of this theory, because I experienced how a visual context can change your perspective on a movie.
Gump and Aura
As I mentioned earlier, my father introduced me to the incredible band who is, the Creedence Clearwater Revival. I remember the day I first heard the songs of Creedence Clearwater Revival, I was in the car with my father and we were making our way back home from one of my soccer practices in San Jose, he usually tuned the radio onto a news station but for some reason today he played something different. He connected his phone and choose the song “Fortunate Son” by the Creedence Clearwater Revival, at first this song struck me as a fun song to just rock out to with my dad. At first, when I heard the beat of the song I didn’t think much of it..I even thought the song was sang by Kid Rock because it reminded me of his song American Woman. I was completely wrong, Fortunate son is nothing like American Woman. They repeated the verse “It ain’t me, It ain’t me, I ain’t no fortunate son” I was oblivious to the meaning of the lyrics. Once the song was over I still thought nothing of the meaning. That all changed once I first watched the movie Forrest Gump and came across the scene where the song Fortunate Son first appeared. Now that I had a visual context to connect the song to the song came to life, I could see how the men in the war were unfortunate. From grasping the material and theories that were presented in Walter Benjamin’s article "Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" I can now understand the meaning of aura and how it connects to the modern world and our visual contexts. The first time I heard the song “Fortunate Son” I did not appreciate the song for what it really was, for its originality, I only appreciated the song when it was duplicated into a movie which provided situations which related to the song. What Benjamin mentions in his essay is how aura affects the experience of an individual when dealing with any type of art. When I first heard the song Fortunate Son, I was just listening to it to have a good time and rock out with my dad.I did not appreciate the song, but if I had gone to a quiet room, had just finished watching a movie about the Vietnam war, or had even listened to the song with war veterans I would have felt I different connection to the song. It is all about the atmosphere in which you present the art to yourself.
Cynthia is a freshman at CSUN