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The Truman Show

An intimate look into the philosophy behind the "Truman Show"
by

Lorenzo Llerena

on 28 April 2011

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Transcript of The Truman Show

What is product placement: is the practice of placing brands in the scene or script of mediated news and entertainment, is also sometimes referred to as brand placement or even entertaining marketing because it has migrated from movies to TV and radio programming, computer games, books, popular songs and stage plays. Product Placement Concerns with product placement:
• Some people believe that the product placement is done in such a way that the viewer has no control in terms of making the choice of purchasing the product or not because it is done on a subconscious level through subliminal messages.
• Others are concerned of the powerful methods used in product placement because some of the audience is very impressionable and may not be aware of the persuasive marketing tools that commercial companies use
• The most noted concern is the lack of control when it comes target audiences that could be impacted by product placement such as young children
Benefits to product placement:
• Commercial business can inform audiences on desirable product in a casual and non-explicit manner
• Commercial companies can give audiences more air time for their shows of interest without constant commercial breaks
The criticsm of product placement as seen in the Truman Show:
•Entertainment and commercial marketing are synonymous
•Reality or perceptions are dictated by commercial companies
•Culture is nothing more than a culmination of places of commerce and what they have to offer
Alternative approaches to product placement:
•Meeting the demands of an intended audience rather than taking a blanket market approach
•Putting restriction on the types of product placements in media such as tobacco or alcohol
•Removing product placement all together
"The Truman Show"
(1998) Directed by: Peter Weir
Written by: Andrew Niccol
Starring: Jim Carrey Filmed in Seaside, Florida Inside the mind of Peter Weir Weir's Intentions Weir's Motivations Weir's thoughts on the future "I think, as we saw with the whole Lady Diana business, the very people who were outrged at the perceived cause of her death, which were the paparazzi chasing the car, were the same people who bought the magazines and the sensational tabloid papers.... They loved her, but they wanted to watch every moment of her life. If they'd had a camera in her house, they would have had the viewership of 'The Truman Show' or more." "One of the first things I did was to make it an idealized community by the sea." "It's quite astonishing what people will watch and will accept, and you wouldn't be surprised if you picked up the paper tomorrow to see that the camera was going to be there with somebody who was dying very slowly of a disease and it would be shown in close-up, and you would be there in the final moments of the passing of someone and share in the grief of the family. A camera records almost everything that happens: it's amazing. If there's an incident int he world, an accident or a terrorist strike, and someone somewhere has a camera." "... I thought it was curious that it was in the community, and I've often wondered whether these shows were being worked on and ['Truman'] was seen, therefore, in a negative light for that reason: that it was critical of the very idea." "We're not that far away from something like 'The Truman Show.'"

"... at the time it really didn't occur to me that it would break out in the way it did." Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) is the star of a reality TV show, only he doesn't know it.
Since his birth, cameras have been following him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Everyone around him, including his wife and life-long best friend, is an actor and most of their lines are scripted.
At age 30, he begins to feel that something in his world is not right.
As he realizes what his reality truly is, he is faced with psychological issues and the troubles of discovering his true identity. The movie was presented in a number of ways:
As a real TV show and we are the audience
As a documentary including views of the control room and interviews with actors
As a regular movie within a movie, showing the control room, the audience, and the eventual off-air search for Truman. After deciding to flee the world as he knows it on a boat, he is nearly killed at sea by a storm controlled by the creator of the show, Cristof.
After hitting the edge of the giant studio, Cristof quickly explains to Truman what he has already begun to put to together.
Truman then leaves the show and the movie ends with shots of the audience. The Frame Narrative and Audience Perception The Frame Narrative
• The television show, The Truman Show
• The movie, The Truman Show
• Our world

Effects on the Audience
•As we enter the world of Seahaven…
oPrimary audience of the television show, The Truman Show
oFor entertainment
oSuspension of disbelief
oTelevision show The Truman Show = Movie The Truman Show
oPersonal connection and opinions
• As we enter the world of the viewers of The Truman Show…
o We become the audience of the audience
o Television show The Truman Show ≠ Movie The Truman Show
o The audience is a buffer between Truman and us
o The audience is a representation of us
o Entertainment to critical
What does this tell us?
• Idolization of celebrities
• Infiltration of media into our lives
• Effects of media on us
 Has it done us any good?
Cultural artifacts:
• Utopia
Major Critiques:
• Parochialism
• Isolationism
• Materialism
Cultural Hegemony:
• Hegemony: the political, economic, ideological or cultural power exerted by a dominant group over other groups. It requires the consent of the majority to keep the dominant group's leader in power.
• Media communicates specific messages and ideologies
• Discrepancy with reality
Advantages of the Frame Narrative
•We are superior
•Will you allow the dominant group to control your life?

"There has always been this question: Is the audience getting dumber? Or are we filmmakers patronizing them? Is this what they want? Or is this what we're giving them? But the public went to my film in large numbers. And that has to be encouraging." –Peter Weir
The need for product placement in film:
• Realism
The Truman Show
and
Reality Television
 The Truman Show is a tv show within a movie
 “The Truman Show”, the show within the movie, claims to be a reality show
 Questions
-What are reality shows?
 -Is Truman a true reality show? Hidden Camera’s/ Ambush
Began: Candid Camera (1948)
Today: Punk’d, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment

Documentary-Style
-Reality Soap (documentary-like)
Began: An American Family (1973)
Today: Keeping Up with the Kardashians, The Girls Next Door
-Professional
Began: COPS (1989)
Today: The Deadliest Catch, Ace of Cakes
-Special Living Environment
Began: The Real World (1992), Big Brother (1999)
Today: Beauty and the Geek Many Different Kinds Reality Shows Talk Shows
Began: Johnny Carson
Today: Letterman, Jay Leno

Competition/Game Shows
-Game Shows
Began: What’s My Line (1950)
Today: Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy
-Competition
Began: Miss America (1954)
Today: American Idol, The Bachelor, The Apprentice

Improvement/Makeover
E.g. What Not to Wear, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Hoaxes
E.g. Joe Schmo, My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance Many Different Kinds cont. Started in the 1950’s
-First “artificial reality”
E.g. Candid Camera (1948-),
-Many of them gameshows
E.g. What’s My Line (1950-67), I’ve Got a Secret (1952-1967)

Changes and Advancements in the 1970’s
-Moving from Documentary to Reality Soap
E.g. An American Family (1973)
-Made possible by
Sony's U-Matic videocassette format (1970)

1990’s: Reality TV Explodes
-Writer’s Guild Strike late 1980’s
Networks needed a way to produce shows cheaply and quickly
The Real World (1992) Big Brother
-Staged Reality/ games
Survivor, The Jamie Kennedy Experiment, Punk’d
-More serious Reality-Documentary
E.g. The Deadliest Catch
A Brief History of Reality TV Criticisms
-Scripting
-Selective editing
-Product placement

Question:
-Is reality TV “reality”? Criticisms & Questions The intention
-Weir’s intent was more to comment on the public’s fascination with celebrities
-Despite the Director’s intent, Truman has been viewed as a commentary on Reality Television and celebrity obsession

Reality TV as portrayed in Truman vs. real life reality TV
-“The Truman Show”
Claim: The Truman Show is real life, but supported by product placement
-Real Life
Economics, not ideology, drive reality TV,

Audience Reaction as portrayed in The Truman Show vs. real life reaction to reality TV
-“The Truman Show”
Concept of “trumania”
-Real Life
Ordinary people made celebrities by reality TV
• E.g. Jane Goody The Truman Show and Reality TV
Full transcript