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The Truman Show
Transcript of The Truman Show
Temporal distortion may be interpreted by a flashback or jumping forward in time. There are several flashbacks of Truman’s life shown during the interview with Christof. By watching the flashbacks, we realize Truman’s life has been being viewed since the day he was born. This flashback gives us some background knowledge such as that Truman was the first baby to be legally adopted by a corporation. Watch clip!
Paranoia entails suspicion or mistrust of people, or their actions. This suspicion or mistrust is not justified, but the individual feels paranoid nonetheless. Truman begins feeling paranoid as he notices small indications that he is infact on a TV set. Truman’s wife advertises a product called “mococoa”, and Truman can clearly tell that she is speaking to an audience rather than to her husband. Truman becomes suspicious of those around him, which cause them to also be paranoid when he is around.
Metafiction can easily be described as writing about writing. Usually this means the reader is aware of the book’s fictionality. Watching the Truman Show, one is aware Truman’s life all a lie, since the movie is portrayed through the eyes of an on looker. Ironically, the “real” people in the movie are also surrounded by actors and not their actual friends. However, while watching the Truman show, Truman’s life becomes fake while the rest is real. The same situation occurs while reading postmodern novels, the story being told by the author becomes fake, whereas the author's narrating is real. The real truth is, the whole novel is fictitious, but the “writing about writing” approach forces the reader to decipher the “real” from the “fake”. The producer of the Truman show is just as made up as Truman is.
Klages states, “postmodern societies rely on continually establishing a binary opposition between ‘order’ and ‘disorder’, so to that they can assert the superiority of ‘order.’ But to do this, they have to have things that represent ‘disorder’ ... thus continually have to create/construct ‘disorder’”. During the 30th year anniversary of the Truman show, Truman starts to notice aspects that are out of place from his perfect world. A movie light falls from the sky, the same people loop around the neighborhood every day, and his radio picks up on the cast crew tracking his movements. From then on, his mission is to leave Seahaven. Truman’s need to find out the truth behind why the world seems to revolve around him causes disorder in his fabricated society. In order to re-establish order from the chaos Truman begins to create, the crew does everything possible to stop Truman from leaving Seahaven. If Truman remains on Seahaven, his orderly life shall continue.
Klages - Order
1) The Counterfeit: “associated with the pre-modern period, the image is a clear counterfeit of the real; the image is recognized as just an illusion;” (Felluga). With spotless streets, and smiling citizens who lead perfect lives in their perfect little homes, Seahaven is a clear representation of the American dream in the 1950’s. The audience understands no such reality exists, however they are still captivated by the illusion of a perfect life.
Baudrillard - Simulacra
Barry Burke - Art and Philosophy
Advertisements and media are a main form of post modern art. Burke states that advertising and media today change how people see the world. Real life is what we see on television and therefore, television is real life. Postmodernists no longer view media as a form of communication, but a way of constructing a new reality for people. This is exhibited in every day life, where many people "construct" their image through social media. The creators of the Truman show use their television series to market their idea of a “perfect life.” The viewers who are heavily influenced by what Christoff, the producer puts out, are sucked into buying everything advertised in order to come closer to living the American dream. Burke also mentions that the main features of post modern art are “a lack of depth and
The Truman Show
Elements of postmodernism
of meaning”. Truman does not live a meaningful life, his world is constructed and fake making it meaningless. The purpose of Truman's life is to entertain and mass market products. These pieces of art (advertisements) really have no meaning behind them, they are simply cleverly placed to gain money.
3) The simulation: “associated with the postmodern age … there is no longer a distinction between reality and it’s representation; there is only simulacrum” (Felluga). For Truman himself, Seahaven is no longer a representation. As a result of copies upon copies of things and people, Seahaven becomes his truth. Baudrillard says society has replaced reality with symbols and most of human experience is a simulation of some reality. Likewise, Trumans’ experiences are merely a simulation of a reality someone created for him. His feelings for his wife, his relationship with his neighbors, and his friendships with co workers are all implemented to create what appears to be a good life for Truman. These relationship symbolize love when infact the people Truman thinks he loves are merely actors.
2) Production: “associated with the industrial revolution, the distinctions between the image and the representation begin to break down … such production misrepresents and masks and underlying reality by imitating it so well, thus threatening to replace it” (Felluga). The Truman show started with a few props and one camera, but after several years, because of mass production, costs heightened and props multiplied. The audience slowly forgets the town of Seahaven is nothing more than a production. The show also directly replaces Truman’s reality. Truman manages to catch on to what’s really going on, deciphering there must be a true reality. However, for many years of his life Truman lives in an imitation of reality.
Baudrillard argues there are three orders of simulacra. Felluga summarizes the three orders as the counterfeit, production and the simulation. The city of Seahaven, constructed by the executives of The Truman Show, follows these orders.
The Truman show fits in as a comedy, and playfulness is shown at the end of the film when suddenly, the two parking lot attendants appear on the screen and ask, “What else is on?”. This provides the viewer with comic relief after viewing an emotional Truman Burbank.
Postmodernists often treat serious subjects in a playful way. In this case, Truman’s entire life has been flipped upside down likely causing him emotional harm, but to the parking lot attendants, Truman’s life does not matter to them.
Ironically, Christoff feels compassion for Truman at the end of the film. To buy someone’s life and exploit them for a profit seems like the actions of a truly cruel person, but Christoff is deeply affected by Truman finding out the truth.
After all the years, is appears as though Truman has became important to many people, when for his whole life he was unaware they existed.
Playfulness and Irony
Technoculture explores a postmodern society, where the main focus is technology and it’s constant need for advancements. As these advancements progress, our understanding of what is real and what is fiction becomes blurred. The Truman Show heavily depends on technology to keep it running. As said in an interview with Christof, The Truman show started with only one camera, but as time passed and Truman grew up, the need for more cameras, more microphones, and better equipment grew as well. Without the heavy use of technology in Seahaven, there would be no way to record Truman’s life. As a result of this all this technology, viewers around the world get a 24/7 look at Truman’s life.
Technocentrism may be viewed as dehumanizing since technology creates a cyber realm for people to interact in. At one point, Christoff strokes the screen that he is watching Truman on as he sympathizes for him. Human touch is not necessary for Christof to attempt to soothe Truman, Christof merely symbolizes a pat on the back or gentle touch rather than actually doing so.
Additionally, Truman’s world literally is technology. The world around him is a huge set surrounded by a giant dome. The dome produces precipitation and changes the weather and temperature. If it looks like rain, and feels like rain...is it still rain even if it is not coming from the clouds? Technology replaces something as natural as rain, and for Truman the fake rain is the real thing. As Baudrillard says once we lose distinction between reality and simulation, our world becomes hyperreal.
Technoculture and Hyperreality