Living in The Truman Show

The Truman Show(1998) - Directed by Peter Weir

I have been watching and re-watching the films of Peter Weir. The experience has solidified Weir as one of my favorite filmmakers. I love how diverse his filmography is. From his early atmospheric films like Picnic at Hanging Rock and Last Wave to his more commercial films like Dead Poet’s Society, Master and Commander, and The Truman Show. The Truman show has always been one of my favorite modern sci-fi movies and my favorite Jim Carrey Performance. The Truman show is the inflection point of Carrey’s career, and we get both funnyman Jim Carrey making silly faces as well as a glimpse of what’s to come as he indulges in the film’s more dramatic emotional scenes. It’s also probably one of the most prescient sci-fi movies that I can think of. Much has already been said about how The Truman show predicted the rise of reality television, but The Truman show is about more than just unscripted television. The Truman show explores the commodification and capitalization of a life lived. Everything is fake and everything is for sale. I don’t think reality tv is nearly as prevalent as it was in the early 2000s, but The Truman Show continues to become more relevant by the day. The ’90s saw the rise of brand as lifestyle, explored at length in Naomi Klein’s No Logo (published just 1 year after The Truman Show was released), and The Truman show feels like a direct response to a culture becoming increasingly obsessed with brand and being seen. It’s hard to watch the scenes where Truman’s wife turns to the camera to talk about hot cocoa or a potato peeler and not see an Instagram influencer. We are all Truman now, surrounded by cameras with our own live steams, fan pages, and followers. Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of the film is that when Truman realizes what is going on and the artificiality of his world he is horrified when in reality many of us would have embraced our newfound celebrity.

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Bryan E. West
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