Truman Show Essay, Research Paper
The Truman Show
Manipulation and delusion are at the heart of the movie The Truman Show. Carefully crafted, this movie portrays television and its producers as producing a fake environment with a ?real person? designed to appeal to the American masses. The smooth packaging lulls the audience into being in on the joke, but perhaps the joke is on the audience to even sit through the almost two hours of bland entertainment.
In fact, the story of Truman Burbank is small town boring, taking place on Seahaven, a diminutive island. Truman believes that he is an insurance broker with a loving wife, Meryl, a nice suburban home, and a best friend. Slowly through a series of unusual events, Truman becomes aware that this quiet, tame life is a fraud. Everyone on the island is not true ? not his wife, friend, mother, and the ?father? he thought dead- all are actors playing a role performing as told by the producers. Ironically, it is the malfunction of another media form, the radio, which helps clue him in to the fact that his every move is being broadcast.
The media corporation promoting The Truman Show and Cristof, the TV producer, are shown focused on the job to create entertainment for the mass market, even if seeing the dull life of Truman is their definition of entertainment. Does filming a real life make for exciting viewing? Generally, no, although one has only to remember the millions of views fascinated by the sight of O.J. Simpson in a white Bronco traveling down Los Angeles freeways, to realize that there are some moments in real life where the public is interested in seeing the moment to moment happenings. Certainly, television is capable of being able to bring that immediacy into the viewer?s space.
But most viewers are interested in excitement in their entertainment, which translates into the format and content of the ?news? as well as direct entertainment. It is difficult to imagine that television viewers would have watched Truman grow up over almost three decades when even the most engrossing ?soap? can not sustain a third of that time period.
Perhaps there is a message here about the content of television. Much of what appears daily on television is boring. Every season, television producers try to sort through what programs will capture the audience ? once they define who that audience is. The Truman Story television audience is presumed stupid for being engrossed in the everyday life of an everyday person ? perhaps the subtle question is Truman representing them? (Or us?) Why is Christof, the producer of this empty story, considered brilliant for reflecting this vacuum of television programming?
Christof is the epitome of the concept of television media executives selling products to an audience, and securing directly, or indirectly as in The Truman Show (where product promotion arises from the use of products by the ?residents? of Seahaven), commercial sponsors to pay for the air time.
Christof manipulates all of the components of Truman?s life, and the movie audience feels that they too are being manipulated into a sense of compassion for the sadness of the sameness and falsehood of Truman?s life. If there is a positive note about this movie, it is that the Jim Carrey?s performance as Truman is good. We, the audience, find ourselves part of this interplay of media mediums, and there is a feeling of boredom ? are we the problem? But Carrey is not the problem. He is a professional actor who tries to create comedy in what is a sad story on many fronts. Carrey becomes Truman; it is we the audience who should walk out on ourselves.