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Truman Show Analysis
His whole scheme of a show was about to be ruined. In a panic, he fed lines for the character of the best friend of Truman to convince Truman that his world is indeed real. Meanwhile the world stood by and watched, while director Christof sighed a breath of relief as his deception worked, and the star of his creation of “The Truman Show” went about his day unaware of being trapped in a giant movie set; with his every move being watched by millions. Analyzing The Truman Show in more depth it can be realized that Christof isn’t just deceiving Truman, but the audience as well, and that such manipulation happening isn’t restricted to The Truman Show film.
Christof is always shown in the dark, gray-scaled studio for the show--a huge contrast to the brightly colored, light-filled world Truman is always shown to inhabit. His voice is always very even and calm, no matter how stressed out everyone around him may be. Everything he says is a command. It’s easy to interpret the dark studio as symbolizing dark, or bad. That what it creates (“The Truman Show”) as a bad thing to create, with it being really weird that it’s being created there. That though “The Truman Show” seems really bright and colorful it’s actually a really dark and bad thing. Christof’s even toned voice could be seen as a façade to conceal his commanding nature, his desire to control, not just the set, but the world itself; all hidden under a harder to recognize, colorful and entertaining, pretense of “The Truman Show’s” premise.
“We've become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions…. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there's nothing fake about Truman himself…it isn't always Shakespeare, but it's genuine. It's a life,” said Christof. With the taking away of actors’ phony emotions, he created an entire phone world. Christof is literally, and known as “the Creator” of “The Truman Show”; a revolutionary new concept in entertainment which had built an a TV set which takes up the size of an entire town, has over 5,000 cameras, and uses a cast and crew of a population of a township as well, in order to create the most convincing recreation of the world ever a known, whose happening are broadcasted to millions, twenty-four hours a day. A televised world that everyone knows about but star of the show himself—the only one not acting, and someone whose every move is controlled by Christof. Christof can control all the cameras, the crew, the weather—everything seen not only by Truman, but the world.
The Truman Show not only portrays Christof and “The Truman Show” footage but the audience’s reactions to it. A choice from the actual movie’s director (Peter Weir) that is hard not to wonder about. Though it shows audience members from all over the world, be it a Japanese family, raucous bar-goers, two cops, or a single parent family sitting down for dinner, the audience all shares one common theme. There life revolves around “The Truman Show”. In the background of the Japanese cops house you see a posters with Japanese script and pictures of Truman and his wife, Meryl. The bar the people are shown in is completely decked in Truman memorabilia. The mother and older daughter of the family completely ignore a crying baby so they could watch a recap of the day’s events. Everyone watching the show knows that Truman doesn’t know he’s on TV, and that Christof manipulates his life to keep it that way. After all, there are interviews with Christof shown where he is talking about what is coming up next for Truman, and you see what is happening to Truman as he is being broadcast live--all the time. Yet because the show is so entertaining for everyone, and nothing is physically wrong with Truman’s life, no one does anything about it, and instead buy all the merchandise advertised in the show. If no ne ever watched, or bought stuff from the show, it would never have had the means to continue. Instead, people’s lives began to revolve around the show, sometimes even keeping the show on for twenty-four hours a day, just as to have the comfort of someone being around them all the time. Giving Christof the power to control the masses as well.
Media having a huge affect on people’s lives isn’t limited to just those watching “The Truman Show”. As it says in Popular Signs of the USA’s introduction, “with the emergence of mass society came the development of mass culture”(Maasik, Solomon 4). It then uses the example that it used to be that people had to create there own music, but now its as easy as turning on your radio to listen to music that people all around the world are listening to. “…We are, in effect, constantly being trained to be the sort of passive consumers that keep the whole consumer-capitalist system going. Without the consumption, the economy might totally collapse.” The American societies people used to have to individually create their own sources of entertainments. Now that there is a such thing as the radio, or the internet, people are able to easily access the same music as those around the world, as oppose to having to create there own. The companies behind our countries media do there best to make sure we choose to listen to there music or other product so as they can make money using a certain kind of power—the power of advertising.
Our media, as well as the one depicted in The Truman Show, heavily relies on advertising in order to make money. Whenever you listen to the radio you’re sure to hear advertisements from other companies who have paid to advertise their own products in between songs.
“The Truman Show,” (as it is a continually running program) does not stop the show completely in order to advertise, but instead imbeds the advertisements right into the show. For example, would strategically angle the beer cans to show them off, having Truman’s best friend Marlon saying “now that’s a good beer” before taking a sip. All of the things portrayed in the show—the clothes, the food, the appliances, even the houses, were for sale. The flaunting of advertisements in between your favorite song or TV show associates the liking of a particular show with that product, and along with the positive judgment of the object from either a cast member from the show or someone in an ad, causes the viewer to want to buy the object being promoted. This makes it a win-win deal for both the media companies and those who advertise using the shows. Good for the entertainment companies because they get money to stay running, and good for the advertisers because it increases their business.
Thinking about this situation more closely however, and its unsure whether or not its good for the consumer—those actually watching and listening to the media, buying the products. In an Jack Solomon’s article Masters of Desire: The Culture of American Advertising, he writes “America’s consumer economy runs on desire, and advertising strokes the engines by transforming common objects…into signs of all the things that Americans covet the most.” He also then states, “’Manipulate’ is the word here, not ‘persuade’; for advertising campaigns are not sources of product information, they are exercises in behavior modification.” (543)
There is an ominous side to advertising; one that can be imprisoning to all who are subjected to it. Advertising isn’t all what it appears. Though it may provide the media and product companies with money and an increase in business, soon, advertising gets to the point where it is a lot more manipulating and psychologically harmful to the consumer than helpful. Cleverly, advertisers will imbed their products, a can of beer for instance, into your favorite show or music station—hypnotizing your mind into subconsciously wanting to buy the product. That subconscious thought soon turns into a desire for something like a beer that the viewer never even knew existed before. A hard to detect manipulation of human behavior, which gives way to an even harder to identify giving of power to those in charge of the media. In the case of “The Truman Show” being Christof and the shows advertisers, and in America would be the media companies and advertisers. Eventually reaching the point where your whole life is controlled by the media, having become like the Japanese family, raucous bar-goers, two cops, and single parent family shown The Truman Show. The point where there live are completely influenced by the control of the media, and not necessarily in a good way either.
The audiences reactions at the end of the film show how happy they were to be freed from Christof’s control and that they had been controlled in the first place. After Christof pleads for Truman to stay. “I’ve watched you you’re whole life” Christof says, “I know you better than you know yourself”. The door revealing the blackness of the outside world is wide open, carved out of the mural imitating a bright blue sky. Breathlessly, the audience anticipates his decision. After a brief moment if hesitation Truman walks through the door. The audience is shown cheering. This seems strange, as there whole life had revolved around watching the show Truman starred in since his birth. Yet as Truman was literally imprisoned by Christof in a giant fake world, so was the audience by being shown and advertised through Truman’s phony world and into the real world of there own. The audience throughout the film seemed to almost be hypnotized by the film. They lived through the show rather than through their own lives. When Truman escaped his manmade world, the audience escaped being completely absorbed in the illusion as well. Even though they knew it wasn’t real, somewhere in there subconscious they still believed in Truman’s world, and were enthralled by it. No matter how innocuous something may seem, if it stops you from controlling your life, its not as innocent as it may appear.
There was one true thing Christof said of the world he created. “There’s no more truth out there than in the world I created for you—the same lies and deceit.” Christof says right before Truman leaves. Right now, in our very real world there are people addicted to television and other media, just as the audience in the Truman show was. There are those who spend more time watching television than they do watching the real world. Making themselves subject to the control of the media, such as in the way the media manipulates us to buy the things they advertise. There are those that post every detail of their lives on social media websites. Free for the rest of the world to judge: or even manipulate. North Korea became notorious for exemplifying this concept. There leader, Kim Jong-il severely limited his people’s access to the outside world; not allowing tourists to go around unaccompanied, banning the internet and most other media such as telecommunications from the general public, and letting a large percentage of his people starve. So much did he limit his people, that when he died the people called him the ‘eternal leader’, mourning the dictator’s death. Though Christof loses his power when Truman walks out the door, those in power in our world are still at work.