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Everything Is The Truman Show

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  • Everything Is The Truman Show

    Twenty Years Later, Everything Is The Truman Show
    Two decades ago, The Truman Show seemed preposterous. “We would laugh about how unrealistic some of it seemed,” said co-star Laura Linney, remembering conversations the cast and crew would have on the film’s Seaside, Florida set. “We couldn’t quite believe that someone would want to tape themselves, so that people could tune in and watch what was considered at the time to be mundane, and see that as entertainment.”

    “By no means did I think that this movie was going to be prescient,” agreed Sherry Lansing, who oversaw the production of over 200 films—including The Truman Show—during her tenure as C.E.O. of Paramount. “That suddenly, we were going to have all these reality shows—the Kardashians, The Real Housewives. When I watch reality television and people who live in front of the camera—there are many now who do—I wonder how much of this is real, how much of it is just because they’re in front of the camera. Do they really know themselves? But every time I watch one, I think of Truman.” Screenwriter Andrew Niccol echoed her: “When you know there is a camera, there is no reality,” he said. In that respect, Truman Burbank “is the only genuine reality star.”

    The intricate fable, brought to life by Oscar-nominated filmmaker Peter Weir, centers on Truman—an upbeat man, played by Jim Carrey, who gradually realizes that his entire life is an elaborately constructed ruse. His friends and family members are actually actors; his every move is captured by 5,000 hidden cameras and broadcast to the world. Even his actions are manipulated by a power-crazed director named Christof (Ed Harris). In addition to forecasting the reality-TV craze, the film predicted the scope of modern product placement (as presented by Linney’s impeccably named character, Meryl Burbank), privacy invasion, and the existential quandary of whether to live for yourself or an audience—be it television or social media. Truman must ultimately decide between accepting the artificial world he knows, or venturing into the unknown in pursuit of truth.

    Twenty years after Truman heroically exited the soul-deadening reality series that was his life . . . well, to quote co-star Holland Taylor, “Here we are.” In 2015 alone, there were roughly 750 reality series on television. Those of us without official series are essentially starring in and producing our own reality shows, via constant Twitter updates, Instagram Stories, Snapchats, Facebook videos, and YouTube videos. As an audience, we didn’t just blow past The Truman Show’s cautionary subtext; we’ve elected a reality star as our president. Added Linney, “The Truman Show is a very foreboding, dark movie—and, unfortunately, our world had gone even way beyond that.”
    TANSTAAFL = There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch

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