‘The Truman Show’: Movie Review

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The reality of the world and the truth of it is questioned every day, especially when something goes wrong. This is shown in ‘The Truman Show', when Truman finally starts to question the reality of the world and the truth of the people that surrounds him. The movie serves as a symbol for our current condition. In our cultural world, politics, advertisement, and public relations are increasingly made up of cinematic illusions, just like the false landscape Truman lives in. This movie is a representation of how our society and media is nowadays; reality television, Instagram, Facebook, and other kinds of social media have allowed us to access other people’s lives. ‘The Truman Show’ is a live-streaming of Truman’s life which is similar to what we are bombarded with on a daily basis. There’s just one difference: Truman doesn’t know that his life is nothing more than a scripted show. The film connects to our world because it accurately preceded the obsession of watching the lives of others instead of living our own.

Ten minutes into the movie my first thought was, 'How on Earth is Truman not conscious that he is living inside a simulation?'. The program is meant to mimic real life, but it is so strategically staged that it does not resemble real life at all. Take a look at every reality show and tell me you don't see the same pattern. As Truman's world crumbles around him, he notices conspiracies everywhere; The make-believe world revolves around him. This is particularly true today, because it seems as though each of us is the most important person on the planet. Ads are deliberately targeted at us, people are monitoring our live streams, and security cameras are tracking everything we do. The fear has become so strong (and rightly so) that there is now a psychiatric illness known as the Truman Show syndrome, in which people feel they are living in a reality show and that others are watching them on television.

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Peter Weir, the film's director, uses the movie to turn the camera on itself and satirically challenge the role of product placement in Hollywood. While product placement has been used in films since the early twentieth century, the golden age officially started with Spielberg's ‘E.T.’, and Weir is clearly representing the truth of the ascent of product placement. According to Dr. Mary Lou Galician, there has been a spike in the volume of product placement in both films and television over the past few decades. Due to the lack of a commercial break and the fact that the program is broadcast 24 hours a day, product placement is the natural preference for ads. Truman's family and friends (all actors) awkwardly debate the virtues of programs throughout the program, snatching at the excuse to sneak in a commercial for gardening sheers or potato peelers. Except for Truman, everybody is aware of the embedded advertising 'advertisements'. He goes to his staged world, oblivious to his ‘parents and colleagues’ exaggerated passion for a certain beverage or vehicle.

This is perhaps my favorite line from the whole film, when the group says, “What do we watch next?”. It is said that as the program comes to a close, you get to see the responses of people who have watched it for decades. People are only interested in you as long as you are important to them and their lives. You're effectively dead to them as soon as you cease to interest or amuse them. If you don't believe this is how our society works, reconsider. People, by default, are only interested in objects, theories, and other people that have an impact on them. If you aren't important, their attention will be diverted to someone or something else. This is how the cult of celebrity is described. Every star has their golden years; they are revered, and everyone pays attention to their films, social media feeds, and every step they make. However, as a new star receives more recognition and popularity, society puts a larger importance on the celebrity. Some fans will still remember their idol; a celebrity can never really be forgotten, particularly these days; however, every performer, artist, and reality TV star has their own time of undisputed fame.

‘The Truman Show’ isn't about of a fake culture within in movie. We are the focus of the movie, how we don't have much power of our behavior. Since our lives are ultimately fake, we all want a sense of reality. We all watch pointless entertainment in order to experience something real, but it has no enduring effect on us. We all want to get out of the tunnel, to return to life, but we don't even realize we're in one. We are continually viewed, heard, monitored, and manipulated. We sell ourselves to a company that doesn't care. We are insignificant. Truth and free will are also delusions. ‘The Truman Show’ is much more cynical and serious than most people know. There's a lot to like about this movie, a lot to take away from it, and a lot to learn from it. ‘The Truman Show’ should be treasured, preserved, learned, and cherished.

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