The Truman Show


Aug 27, 2000

I just saw the Truman Show -- I bought it at a sale on video -- and it was exceptionally gripping. But more to the point, I am so struck by how it anticipates Survivor, Big Brother, etc., but with infinitely more intelligence and critical edge. One example: at the very end, instead of going for the easy uplift of the entire Truman Show audience being uplifted by Truman's escape, the movie challenges the audience by showing it its own tendency to just change the channel. I think it is astonishing that Carrey did not win an Oscar for this movie, or Weir for the direction. They deserve tremendous appreciation for what they tried and what they achieved.

Ellen DuBois

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July 15, 1999

I thought your website about "The Truman Show" was excellent. I received a different message from the movie, and I'd like to share with you.

In the beginning of the movie, Truman is blissfully unaware of the fact that life as he knows it is artificial. As Truman matures, he begins to realize that he is trapped in this world and everyone he knows has lied to him all of his life. He resents the fact that he has no privacy and that he has been perfoming for the amusement for others without his consent. He becomes angry at the Creator who imprisoned him in a contrived world and subjected him to hardship simply for amusement. Rather than feeling thankful for the Creator's "blessings," he feels betrayed. At the end of the movie, he turns his back on the Creator and chooses to live an authentic life outside of the Creator's realm. He embraces "truth:" a life without a Creator.

Truman's story is analogous to an atheist's journey as he or she abandons his or her faith. We ask ourselves why any Creator who loves us would subject us to things like child abuse, etc. simply to observe and grade our reaction. 

The Bible is the most-read book ever written. How's that for media influence?

Carolyn Kimsey, Florida

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February 09, 1999

As I was reading the essay on the Truman Show, namely the part that compares Christof to the God crucifying his only son to be reborn, I realized that that comparison doesn't quite fit. In Christian mythology, Christ's crucifixion and resurrection is all part of a plan orchestrated by God to lead humanity to enlightenment. This is obviously not the case in the Truman Show. It is in Christof's best interests to keep Truman in the illusion, as it keeps humanity under the same illusion. A more apt comparison would be to relate Christof to Christianity (duh), or organized religion in general, as an oppressing force that encourages people to ignore what's going on in the real world and concentrate on a fantasy that has no concrete value.

Bryce Holcomb

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October 16, 1998

I was pleasantly surprised to find your site, which I looked up after
seeing a second-run showing at my university's student union tonight.

A friend of mine noticed an interesting touch--that the number on the sail
of Truman's boat is 139. Psalm 139 speaks of God's omnipresence and
omniscience. "You know when I sit and when I rise: you perceive my
thoughts from afar." (verse 2) "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where
can I flee from your presence?" (verse 7)

An interesting touch, don't you think? I'd appreciate any feedback you
might be able to offer.

Eric Seymour
Indiana University

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February 26, 1999

I am a college student in Las Vegas who looked up your sight for my English
class assignment, to write about media manipulation and The Truman Show. I
found the movie very interesting, which made me wonder about all of the many 
cameras here in our community. In each casino, there are enough cameras to
match the movie! And yet, people don't care. Most people make jokes about
"Big Brother" watching them, but no one seems to worry about it. Not to
mention all of the high tech equipment that the news channels have in order to
video things that are out of their reach, they can zoom in from miles away.
On the top of the Stratosphere Tower, there is what is known as the
"Stratocam," which is a video camera that can zoom anywhere in the valley. It
is disturbing to know that wherever you are in Las Vegas, you can see the
Stratosphere Tower and they can see you. It is also interesting to know that
billions of dollars are spent on the space program and there is always another
satellite being launched, those each have the capabilities of zooming and
taping! I am planning to be a teacher and there are now talks of videotaping
classes. There are presently video cameras on major intersections, which are
supposed to be for traffic control. The video eyes are everywhere!... I am going to revisit your sight for future reference,
thank you for your essays.

(Las Vegas resident) 

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November 22, 1998

Some other works that involve at least one if not several of the themes
mentioned on the "Environments of Illusion" page that you may wish to discuss:

The Giver by Lois Lowry
I read this long ago, it is a book for young adolescents, and I'm not even
100% sure I have the author correct. If I remember correctly, it very much
fits your description of living happily in a world that is truly an illusion,
discovering that it is nothing but an illusion, fighting to escape and then
successfully escaping.

Dark City, a movie
Just watch it. Aliens create a world for humans that changes nightly at
midnight...Or is it every noon and every midnight...?

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
This was written in the 1930s, and while it does not *exactly* fit your
descriptions, it definitely meets the criteria of those in control setting up
an illusionary world and the idea of symbiotic attachment versus growing up
and mature relationships, and also of addiction. this book explores what
happens when a man who has grown up in his own world of illusions is brought
into another world of illusion.

my three cents
Liisa

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April 28, 1999 

I watched The Truman Show last night for the first time. What a brilliant concept, and couldn't have been more ironic--we're currently having a ban on terrestrial TV (we don't have cable or satellite) in our house -- videos are allowed if agreed in advance by all concerned.
Having studied the media, sociology, and consumer and marketing psychology, I thought that this film was particularly well conceived (execution's irrelevant). It got us all thinking, but what an irony, as you say -- it's criticizing media manipulation whilst being the manipulator, not to mention the fact that we were watching it on TV during a house TV ban (allowing videos was to keep two house members quiet).
However, it dredged up an old paradox of mine, and I'm sure of millions of likeminded others: is it possible to be free in a constructed society as long as you're aware of the construction? Is it possible to be free of political influence and power as long as you're aware of what power is being exerted upon you?
As Chomsky said, we are provided with distractions to keep us from reality -- distractions being sports, leisure, TV etc.....what can we do to be truly free?

Will Lewis

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Nov. 28, 2000

I agree with almost all the points presented in the meaning of the
Truman show, except I believe there is a flaw in the criticism of
media. the viewers of the television show are happily spending all
their time watching TV, enjoying being with other people who are also
watching and interacting, and sharing emotional moments as Truman
proceeds through life. this is a positive projection of television and
reinforces the value of watching. but that's not how the majority of
people watch. most are alone, and totally engulfed in the show, not
critiquing.

May 19, 1999

I just finished watching "The Truman Show" 15 mins ago, and I found it to be
truly an inspiring story. I felt a connection with Jim Carey's character as
Truman. The end of the movie deeply touched me, because Truman then knew
that he had been living under a lie for those 30 years. But I'm deeply
disappointed in the fact that you don't find out what happened to him next. 
Obviously we find that Truman lost love rushed to see him.. But does she
find him? How does Truman adapt to his new real life. Or does he? Perhaps
it is the play writer's purpose. Perhaps he/she wanted it to end the movie
with such a charismatic enigma. Who knows.....all I can say is that it's a
great movie.

Andre Jantz

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I was interested to see your fascinating web site on The Truman Show. I
wrote a book called 'Burning All Illusions' (South End Press, 1996), which
follows very similar themes to the film. I have recently written a new
preface for the third printing of the UK version called 'Free to be Human'
(Green Books, 1995). I thought you might be interested to see it.

Best wishes
David Edwards

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July 08, 1999

I just have to add to your comments about The Truman Show that I found it to be somewhat of a horror story.   Now don't get me wrong, I loved the movie and it was put on screen in the best way possible so as not to ruin the spirit of humanity in a way not unlike Brave New World.

For me waiting for the point at which Truman will find out what's going on, was at times both depressing and scary.

Jim Carrey (excellent in the role) expressed the proper degree of anger and disillusion for this film, but not for the idea of being:
1)  bought as a baby by something without body parts, soul or humanity - a corporation;
2) displayed for all to see him win, lose, pick his ass and nose and ultimately drown in the confusion of his own identity;
3) Left to fend for himself with no, I mean NO ONE to have positive feelings about (forget the woman removed from the equation).

With no way to develop and express love or attachment or dependence (like a baby duck's first instincts!) what is man left to do - address chaos head on by wreaking havoc.  Which is what Truman does until he escapes.  But escapes to what?

As far as I'm concerned, a Stephen King novel would be the correct context for The Truman Show.

Leslie Ferebee

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July 23, 1999
I don't meant to be rude but are you guys idiots? I'm not sure what's going on here, but did everybody miss what the message of The Truman Show really is? If you want to know, I'll tell you.

js

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Feb. 1, 2001
Hello,

Your analysis of the Truman Show is very good.
I saw the movie twice. I'll never forget it.
Truman's friend said : "Why Fiji ?"
Truman said, as his finger circled the globe: "Because if you go any
further, you start coming back..."
We are conditioned. Breaking free requires multiple attempts.
It's like learning to ride a bike. The toughest part is the influence
parents have on us, which is especially strong, or difficult, if these are
divorced and/or sad.
The parent is "The Creator". This is what makes it touchy. However, if you
think of nature and of a young bear who never sees the face of his parent
again...I say to myself that humans could be that way.
I say to myself that humans SHOULD be that way.

Max May

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