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The Truman Show & the Role of Media in our Modern World:

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The media has a highly influential role in today’s society, and though opinions may differ, it is an inescapable and unavoidable part of our modern day world. Although stating that the media is inescapable may be an exaggeration, this does not hold true for the fictional character Truman Burbank from Peter Weir’s The Truman Show.
A TV producer named Christof plays the role of God to Truman Burbank, an innocent prisoner who is unknowingly born into a world that is in fact a huge set for a TV show appropriately titled The Truman Show. Twenty four hours, seven days a week, Truman Burbank is being watched by viewers worldwide for purely entertainment and of course, profitable purposes. From his birth, the producers and creators of The Truman Show construct Truman’s world and reality from the weather he experiences to shaping his deepest fears. Yet as he grows older, he begins to dream of leaving the island (which really is a television set) in which he lives to explore and travel around the world. Since he could not be closely observed in the real, outside world, they began to manufacture ways to keep him on the island. During a flashback, the viewer sees a young Truman Burbank who tries to climb the rocks on the beach while cheerfully declaring “I’d like to be an explorer like the great Magellan.” Automatically, his teacher stops him and says “Oh, you’re too late, there really is nothing left to explore!” This attempt at discouragement from pursuing his interests represents that every form of media is trying to convey a certain message. In this case, the creators and producers of the Truman Show were trying to dishearten him from ever trying to leave the island. Both Truman and the members of today’s society are exposed daily to the media of pre-constructed beliefs, values and messages. They can be as direct as a commercial or as concealed as a subliminal message. For this reason, it is the responsibility of the consumer of the media to be diligent in accepting what kind of message, belief, and values the creators are delivering. Truman did not accept his teacher’s idea and continued to foster his desire to one day leave the island despite what the teacher said. From this example, it is clearly evident that if the consumer of the media is not careful in interpreting the media’s strong opinions, it could have a significant impact on the decision making of the consumer than he or she may think.
Yet, in spite of how careful a consumer can be in regards to the media’s pre constructed ideas and messages, it continues to have an influential effect in convincing the consumer to support their opinions and beliefs, in both decision making as well as financial matters. A strong technique the media uses in order to create this financial support is through advertisements and product placement. Product placement is an effective, common form of subliminal advertising that works by purposely showing a company’s brand or a certain product in the media in the hopes of the consumer noticing it and ultimately, purchase the product. An example of commercial implication in The Truman Show was when Truman and his wife were arguing. In the middle of the fight, Meryl turns to the camera and says “Why don’t you let me fix you some of this Mocca drink, all natural cocoa beans from the upper slopes of Mount Nicaragua, no artificial sweeteners!” Through this, it is evident that Meryl does not really care about Truman or the fight that they are having, and is more concerned about having to advertise the cocoa drink that she was told to do. Like Meryl, individuals who control what we watch and hear do not have the consumer’s best interest in mind. The media contains messages that support the business and profit that they are seeking.
Although this may be the case, there are many people who do not question what ideologies or commercial implications are being presented to them daily. Those who try and deconstruct the media and question as to why certain forms of media are existing may have a completely different opinion than those who do not question it at all. Though they were both actors who were hired to act on the set, Meryl (Truman’s wife) and Sylvia (an extra) learned to have different beliefs and attitudes towards The Truman Show. Meryl, a main character, thinks that “There is no difference between private life and public life. My life is the ‘Truman Show’. The ‘Truman Show’ is a lifestyle, a noble lifestyle. It is....a truly blessed life.” Yet Sylvia, who has only appeared on a few episodes, is strongly opposed to the idea of the Truman Show and. “He’s not a performer, he’s a prisoner....you’re a liar and a manipulator and what you’ve done to Truman is sick!” All audiences who consume the media negotiate their own individual meaning towards it. Those who are similar to Meryl build themselves solely around the teachings of the media and in some extreme cases forget about the human dignity of others who are being exploited in the media. Despite the world’s obsession with the Truman Show, Sylvia continues to fight Truman’s human rights, even if the media frowns upon it.
However, regardless of what other people support from the media, audiences will probably try to find a tiny bit of Truman Burbank within them and eventually escape the grasp and control the media have in today’s modern world . The media is good and influential but should only be employed with caution. The Truman Show is a fictional movie made to make fun of how the world today works, and educates audiences that consumers should always be weary of what implications are being presented, and construct their own realities and beliefs based on the real world, and not just the world that is on television





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