This site describes the stage-set town where Truman lives as a depiction of manipulative media. And it describes the movie itself as a form of media that tries to manipulate viewers.
But this site is also a form of media, which means you can be absorbed by it and take a critical distance toward it, just as you can with the movie, and just as the movie's character does with the environment he finds himself in. Like the stage set Truman is in, and like the movie, this site tries to use lifelikeness (it often uses a conversational style, for example); seamlessness (unified graphics, hopefully no egregious errors), entertainment value, as well as a friendly tone to draw you in. And, like them, it contains elements of manipulation intended to get you to do or believe certain things.
Since we've already asked questions about the movie, here are some questions about this site and you:
When you first came to the site, did you think of it as an object of interest, without reflecting on who created it and why? Or did you wonder who the author is and why the site was created?
Does the site look different when you view it from a critical distance? Do you have control over whether you are absorbed by it or look at it more critically?
Are there any examples of "product placement" or advertisements that have been woven into the site?
Does the site primarily try to get you to think for yourself or does it primarily try to manipulate you into thinking like the author? Does it do both?
How can you distinguish between manipulation and sincerity, true and contrived, on the site? Is it a meaningful distinction?
Does the site create simplified villains and heroes or offer a more complex view of the world?
Does the author present himself as likeable in the tone and content of these pages? Is that real or a contrivance or both?
The point is that we need to look critically at all communications. That is particularly essential in a time when many people are expert at the rhetorical manipulation of words and the creation of convincing stage sets and images.
If we get better at seeing through things, we will still go through a natural rhythm of having our attention absorbed by communications and seeing things from a critical distance. But we will do so with greater awareness. And we will become more effective at using media to expand our lives and in resisting efforts by the creators of media to use us for their own purposes.
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That concludes the main essay on The Truman Show. It is also recommended that you read the Letter To Salon Magazine, which summarizes the significance of the movie. There are also Links to other relevant pages on the Transparency web site and an account of the Story, in case you didn't see the movie.
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