Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Truman Show

In class, we recently finished watching the movie The Truman Show. This film is classified under the genre of satire, because it slightly makse fun of ideas that are found in our everyday life and questions what we commonly believe in. It stars Jim Carrey as the main character Truman, whose whole life is actually a TV show that everyone is in on - except for himself. As he goes through his daily life of walking through studio sets, and developing relationships with actors, he eventually catches on to what is really happening. After 30 years of living in this reality show, he musters up the courage to escape from his so-called life. Though filled with funny scenes and laughable dialogues, this movie is really something deeper than it appears on the surface. In short, this film plays with your mind! As the plot unraveled and the I slowly learned the truth about what was going on, I began to question my own life. Truman is a very relatable character, with his easygoing nature and friendly demeanour, and it seems crazy that he didn't realize earlier that nothing around him was real. But maybe I'm just like Truman, too naive to realize the truth, and too nervous to even think about questioning it, simply out of the fear of change. This made me feel as though I should think more about what goes on around me. Everyday, I just accept people or ideas as they are, and make the assumption (through trust or laziness or cowardice, I don't know) that everything is what it seems. This film is very thought-provoking with its themes about deciding for ourselves what is real and what is fake, and I would definitely recommend it to others.

The article "The Truman Show" discusses the idea that in the past there has been no criticism of media, but movies like The Truman Show are moving us in the direction of exposing the truth and giving the population a voice, in turn, granting us freedom. The author Ken Sanes talks about the "media machine", Hollywood, and how so much of what they throw at us is not real. When referencing the The Truman Show, it compares Truman's fake life to our "media landscape...made up of theatrical illusions." The media surrounds our generation everywhere we go, and this article really shows the ways in which some of us are making progress to stand up to its unrealistic expectations. It explains two attitudes that people have towards media; one is that we are absorbed by it and subconsciously let ourselves accept it, and the other is that we distance ourselves from it and use our brains to question what we are being told. Most people switch between the two possible ideas, like Truman, who first loves his life and does not really look into things that seem strange. But later on in the movie as these unusual happenings become more frequent, he resolves to find out the truth. We are all Truman, trying to discover what we can really believe.

I really agree with Ken Sanes' article about the Truman Show and the media in general. I think the point he makes about the two attitudes we have towards media is very true. When watching a TV show, for the first while I always feel so emotionally connected to the characters, and imagine myself going through what they are experiencing. But once something occurs that seems unrealistic, I feel that connection break instantly. For the rest of the episode, I often laugh at the plot or the dialogue, and wonder how at one point I actually went along with it. I think this thought process is good though, because it means we can differentiate between reality and illusions, and even though we suspend our beliefs for a while, we ultimately know where to draw the line. However, although I agree with most of what Sanes says, there is one line I disagree with; where he states that "the movie uses the manipulations of media in order to manipulate us into seeing through the manipulations of media." Yes, this film is a form of media, but I think there is such thing as good media, and we can't just assume that all media is there to purposely manipulate us. The Truman Show does use certain techniques to draw us in or to connect us to the story, but it is for a positive purpose, not about tricks or illusions. I think this movie is an example of media that we should believe in, because it pushes the boundaries of what is typically acceptable in film.

This movie acts as a metaphor to our own lives, because we are constantly being told things by the media that we may know are unreal, but we accept them anyways because that is ofter the easiest option. In this film, Truman represents consumer, and the director of the show represents the media. The director controls and manipulates everything Truman sees and does, much like advertisements, shows and movies tell us what is acceptable in society. The director can change the actors, the plot, and even the weather, but Truman doesn't seem to notice anything strange because this is how things have been for his whole life. In our world, the media is always surrounding us, so we too have become used to it, to the feeling that we should do as we're told and we should believe what we are given. However, as Truman gets older, he becomes more aware of his surroundings and finds the courage to question the reality of what is happening, even with the knowledge that the answers could change his whole life. A similar process happens as people grow up too. We start seeing the holes in the media, the mistakes that reveal the illusions, and we reject the things that we used to allow as the truth without thought. In the end, it becomes up to us; we can leave things as they are and always wonder if they're true, or we can be like Truman, brave and wise, by fighting against what the media tells us, and instead forging our own path into the world ahead of us.


  1. Excellent work Alissa-- Great images throughout your post to keep your readers' interest!