- The Truman Show, once a warning about the dangers of reality entertainment, has now become an aspirational goal for many in society.
- In today’s world, where we are constantly surrounded by cameras and willingly share every thought on social media, we have unintentionally created our own version of The Truman Show.
- The Truman Show would not be made today because it would be considered boring as reality TV has become a recycled concept, and the idea of a manufactured hero’s journey is now commonplace.
When a movie embeds itself deeply into the public consciousness, we often wonder where it came from. Years later, we all do that fun thing where we ask whether said movie could be made in the current climate. The Truman Show is one of these films, and its influence has been felt for the past twenty-five years.
But the question of whether it could be made today is almost laughable. It was a comedy with an outlandish premise that made people smile. What about it couldn’t be made today? Well, there are many reasons and issues that cast things in an entirely new light.
What Is The Truman Show?
The Truman Show stars Jim Carrey as Truman Burbank, a man adopted by an entertainment company as a baby and placed in a fake community in an enormous dome. His life is broadcast 24/7 to the entire world without his knowledge. Everyone in his life is an actor, and people find comfort in watching this young man as he grows up. The producers and director orchestrate certain things, cast certain people, and create situations to keep Truman oblivious and, in effect, caged.
Truman longs for something bigger than what he thinks is his peaceful seaside town. He wants to travel, to see the world, but was traumatized at a young age to never want to leave. Truman also pines for a certain girl he met in high school that disappeared right before he met the woman he would eventually marry.
One day, a light falls from the sky. It lands right beside him, labeled as one of the stars in the galaxy above him. He is struck by this crazy occurrence and soon begins to realize that his life may not be what he thinks it is. Patterns begin to emerge, people come out of the woodwork, and Truman begins to learn the truth about what is going on around him. It is self-discovery at its peak and provides what seems to be a satisfying and happy ending.
Fears Turned to Goals
Here’s the thing about The Truman Show: it was meant to be a warning about the horrors to which our society would go for reality entertainment. Now, it’s the dream of millions of people. The show Big Brother, which is franchised in 63 different countries and regions, is The Truman Show, except for the fact that the people are willingly involved. Locked in a house with zero outside contact and watched 24/7. It is an aspirational goal. Nearly every reality TV show is some version of The Truman Show, except they cut out all the boring parts. They are still orchestrated, destroy people’s mental health, and are fawned over by hundreds of millions of people.
Truman was meant to show us that in a world where we have no control, we have the power to take control back. When we realize that we are being monitored at all times, we have the power to ditch the cameras and head out onto the open road.
It doesn’t seem like that is still an achievable goal. We are now surrounded by cameras at all times, we have phones that listen to every word even when we think they are not, and we put every thought we have on the internet for people to see. It turns out social media was The Truman Show of our own making. The producers opened the doors, gave us passwords, made up rules about protection, and asked us to hand over our lives. And we have. Willingly, progressively, and without any regard for what might happen to our lives in the future.
As writer Andrew Niccol recently told Newsweek, “I guess I’m most surprised that while Truman was running from cameras, most of society is running towards them.”
A Landscape of One Idea
The Truman Show would also not be made today because it would be boring. It would be the movie version of something we see every single day on streaming services. The script would be stamped with “Talk to us 25 years ago” and sent back to the screenwriter. If it were written today, people would shrug and wonder if it was more of a promotional video and where in Dubai they would be building the dome. Many parents would write to the studio to ask how much money they could get by allowing their child to be Trumanized. Maybe there’d even be an entire community where every kid was followed without knowing. Imagine the ratings.
Reality TV is no longer a monumentally fascinating idea. It is a sideshow of the same recycled concept. The idea of the manufactured hero’s journey is alive and well. We saw this most recently with the show Jury Duty. It was the closest we’ve come to a Trumanesque experience. Ronald Gladden had no idea he was a part of a social experiment, and people wondered whether it was a cruel concept. But guess what? Season two is on its way, baby!
The Truman Show is no longer an aspirational film about getting out. It has become a cruel joke. It’s a movie about a time when we laughed about how crazy it would be to put a kid in a dome and film him 24/7. But, now parents do it willingly. Every moment of our lives is lived on camera, whether we know it or not. The dome covers the world, and we are all playing out the parts. We even chose the music.