We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. Are we free? Do we have control over our own lives? Or are we being watched, put under some kind of illusion? What if the world you are thought to be living in, isnt real at all?
This is what Peter Weir conveys in his film The Truman Show. Truman Burbank, played by Jim Carry, is the protagonist of the film, who lives on a so called island called Seahaven. He is introduced as a kind and well mannered man who is in fact the only “True man” of the show, hence his name Truman. But little does he know that hes living inside a reality tv show with everyone around him an actor or actress, even including his own best friend and wife.
Similarly, Nosedive is an episode of the popular Netflix series Black Mirror, directed by Joe Wright.Its both a dystopian fiction and a social satire. Lacie Pound lives in a version of America where every tiny interaction is ranked by the people involved on an app that syncs with retinal implants. The minute you see someone you can also see their rankings. Its set in a Truman Show style universe that seems designed explicitly for instagram. In the texts The Truman Show and Black Mirror (Nosedive), the role of media in our lives is challenged by the directors. Because is conforming to societies standards of peace, wellness and acceptance, worth our human nature?
I loved how Weir created dramatic irony right from the beginning of the film using extreme camera angles to make the audience aware of the constant surveillance and voyeuristic nature of Trumans life being reduced to a televised reality show for the audiences entertainment without his knowledge or consent. What i think makes this film unique from others is that you are consciously aware that there is a camera. As said by Christof “an intricate network of hidden cameras and broadcasted live and unedited 7 days a week to audience around the globe” Whether it be behind his desk, in the water or even the store he goes to daily to purchase his newspapers, there were always miniscule cameras watching trumans every move. This use of dramatic irony indicated to me the concept of the film where everyone is an actor or actress except for himself. Whos every move is not only being watched by the cast and creators but also millions in the audience. The media influences every portion of his life, from the people he interacts with to the occupation he has. A scene where this is depicted well is when Truman starts to feel confined and desires to aquire out of Seahaven, but a series of semisynthetic obstructions and prefiguration is put to maintain Truman indoors. For example when hes talking to his best friend Marlon about wanting to escape on a vacation to a place like fiji. Marlon then lied to Truman saying ” You cant get any further without coming back” This use of dramatic irony therefore made me feel his plight even if he himself didnt even know yet and helped made me feel more involved in trumans bittersweet life.
I believe that The Truman Show accurately portrays the immense role media plays in our lives. We live in a society hypnotised by technology. Individuals are dependent on their electronic devices in order to stay constantly updated on other’s lives. This dependence is unhealthy and results in media possessing a certain control over individuals. The media creates a dream world that provides an escape for its users. Viewers of the Truman Show became so engrossed in Truman’s life because they were able to live empathetically through Truman, without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes. Reality television is so addicting because society feels they can relate to, and connect with the individuals in the show.
Seahaven can be described as the perfect place in the world, orderly and friendly. Though it is all merly a phase for a popular tv show that centres on trumans life. Honestly in my opinion i think its sick. Using an innocent child who knew nothing and using him to gain popularity and money is absurd. I must travel on a small tangent and speak about the subject of money. Our society is focused on money. The upper class people are materialistic and the lower class categories are left with less power. Basically the truman show demonstrated how people will do almost anything for money, even if it means utilising a guiltless child as merchandise.
The tv industry are seeking to pass on that Truman is living the so called dream life. That everyone should purchase what he buys and utilise what he uses. On top of that, truman is used for the audiences amusement. Being viewed from screens all over the world 24/7 without his knowledge or consent (similar to the hunger games where citizens watch the kids fight to death for ammusement and command on who wins) . I think its ill and unjust. What gives them the right to film truman and why dont any of the people watching the show do something about it? I mean dont any of them feel bad that hes trapped there? Or do they merely think hes acting and the show isnt really existent? This leads me to my following point.
The general influcence of media on us is that we can follow the lives of celebs. The thing about being famous is that the media is constantly capturing your every move and you have little to no privacy left against the world. Do one disgraceful thing wrong (eg caught drunk driving) and the world will give you constant shit about it. Often the media will twist stories into what they merely want to make it more interesting and in bend make more money for selling it ( Again the subject of money and why its aching our society.)
One of the primary reasons i believe that media possesses such a control over society is because the public puts an enormous trust in the media. For example big companies like Nike sponsoring famous celebs like Ronaldo for them to wear and adverstise their products.And since his fanbase is huge especially during the World Cup, they will do just about anything so they can be like their favourite football player , such as purchasing products which theyre sponsored by. Even if the product is completly shit or overpriced. Clearly they’re not educated on the whole Child labour case on Nike. Instead of just relying on their own instincts and research, people now depend on the media to guide them. In regards to The Truman Show, one of Meryl’s main priorities is to market various products on the show. Whether she is commenting to Truman that it’s time to buy a new Elk Rotary or showing him her Chef’s Pal, Meryl is constantly promoting products. During a fight with Truman, Meryl even continued to advertise a new Mococoa drink. While Truman is yelling, Meryl calmly explains the beverage is “all natural cocoa, no artificial sweeteners.” Everything on the show is for sale and viewers often buy the products due to their obsession with the show and their trust in the products. The audience believes that if Meryl uses a certain product, then they should use the same one. The media maintains an influence over society due to our dependence on technology and the trust we instilled in media sources.
The popular Netflix show Black mirror also addresses the way the media has influenced our lives. Particularly the episode, Nosedive. These days social media is a platform we always use and take advantage of. Wanna stalk your crush online? A few clicks into their profile and all your wants will be satisfied. However, online we may want to appear to have a certain representation of ourselves. We may show ourselves to have a completely different identity and be a certain way online, so we can appear how we desire. I hardly ever post photos of myself online, but when i do, i make sure its private and only my friends can see it. And before i do post it, my brain starts flooding with endless questions “What will others think of me?” “Is this aesthetic enough” and the insecurities follows. Afterall who’d want to post something weird and not get “enough likes” Am i right? The world of Nosedive was exactly like this. Everyone was revolved around the social media platform of instagram and Tripadvisor put together. People can rate you on your posts and interactions with them out of 5, and these ratings have real life consequences, not just socially online. You got a 2.9 rating? Sorry but you cant enter this store right now. Ratings 4.9? Feel free to rent the premium car at no extra costs, plus a complimentary fuel voucher while youre at it. The people you interact with can also increase or decrease your rating. Spend time with high rators? Thatll boost you up. Spend time with low rated people? Then sorry but your rating will be decreased. This created social pressure and is a perfect way to keep people in check. People will voluntarily act nice to people just so they will like them and/or abandom them just to get a high rating. This makes me glad we dont live in such a media obsessed world…yet. As if we did, there would be no genuine things left. Everything would seem fake, even relationships. People will constantly look nice and happy to see you, just for the likes. Overtime, you may not even know who your true friends are as they only want you to see them in a certain way and you, the same. In this episode , Naomi showed this through her fake friendship with Lacie. Where she instantly cut ties with her after Lacies rating dropped below 3. Also when Naomi married a handsome gay guy just to boost her status. Everything was done for an act. Everyone is an actor for their own performance. So when the main character Lacie pulls from her show, she truely found freedom. Though she ended up in prison as her rating dropped straight down to a 0, she was not oppressed by the standards people had created. She finally stopped the charade, and even made a true friend. I believe that what the director successfully showed us through Lacies tragic ending is that, if we keep fighting to the end, we can achieve what we want. As cliche as that sounds, when were faced with pressure ,especially social pressure, we can pull out and conform to what others are influencing. This pressure can be extremely hard, and im sure we have all had similar experiences. Its like fighting against a vacuum. Get sucked in to what everyone else is doing, or cling and go against the current? The ending of this episode inspired me to break out of the social norms. Because is obeying societies standards or pressure, really worth it?
This is similar to what happens at the end of The Truman show. As truman reaches for his freedom he is stuck between what he thinks is right for him vs what everyone else believes is the best for him. When Christof is talking to truman he is speaking from “the skies”. This can be seen as a representation of god trying to get him to fo what he/she wants. Trying to get him to believe that he/she knows whats best for him. This is evident in the “Lunar Room” scene, as Christof reaches to touch the screen ( like the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel of god creating Adam). This can also contribute to the effect on the struggle for power and the way truman is depicted like jesus. And the way christof is outside the world he has “created”, so hes never actually met truman face to face, so how can he say he even knows him? Christof patiently pleads truman to stay, appealing to the part of him that wants to remain safe and is afraid to venture out into the unknown world where not everyone would be kind to him. Where he would want a good job right of the bat. However, i admired truman as he took his future into his own hands. Which signified his development into a full adult. This gave me hope that we can make our own decisions and choices and decide our own destiny. Which reminded me that we are who we chose to be and are not controlled by those above us. “You never had a camera in my head” Truman proclaims this statement, which rings through to those watching. This taught me that our hearts and minds are our own and if we realise this then no one will be able to take that away from us.
The truman show, directed by Peter Weir, and Nosedive directed by Joe Wright showed me that even if you have lived your life being controlled by someone or something, like family, a master or a society, its never too late to escape and become your own individual person. My favourite scene from the two films was definetly . Trumans last action. By smiling at the sky, thus his master and those watching him. And bidding farewell by saying his well known catch phrase, ” Oh and incase i dont see ya, good afternoon, good evening and goodnight”. He then steps through the exit into a brand new world. This made me question, if Truman Burbank could take a risk and commit to it, then why cant we?