The Truman Show

By John Myers

The Truman Show is about the intrusion of the media in the lives of celebrities and the disruption such scrutiny causes, such as in the life of Princess Diana. Or, it's a movie about the intrusion of the media into all of our lives, with shows like Oprah and Jerry Springer showcasing the lives of "average" people, delving into every nook and cranny of our private lives. It means that with the nature of the media today, we have no private life. That's what The Truman Show was trying to illustrate.

Or was it?

While there are other movies in the works with similar storylines (the public following the life of a particular person through live transmission), The Truman Show was the first and for that reason will become and remain a classic of the genre. The story is not so far fetched--a world built to broadcast a live soap opera 24 hours a day; a soap opera in which the principal figure is the only one not aware that it is all a set-up. Today, hundreds of people around the world have subjugated themselves to 24-hour-a-day scrutiny via the internet and live webcams. The cameras are set up in their homes and offices, and one individual has even installed one on himself that broadcasts directly through a satellite uplink. Of course all of these individuals have volunteered and even paid for their lives to be put on display. In the movie The Truman Show, Truman had no choices--ever. His life was orchestrated moment by moment for him--even down to what friends he would have and whom he would marry. He was totally unaware throughout his life that he was in a gilded cage. That is the essence of the story--not the aspects involving the media. This the key to unlocking the message of the movie.

Oh, there's a message all right, and it's not hidden very deep; in fact, the producers and screenwriters made it as plain as they could.

Let me put it this way: there was a man and he lived in a beautiful place in which everything was taken care of for him. He had all he needed to live...all the food, all the resources. The climate in his environment was kept warm and free of pollution and disease. He had an easy job, too--really unnecessary given the big picture. Someone was responsible for this man's life and for the world he lived in; someone who controlled it moment by moment--someone who ensured that the man did not come to any harm. This someone even arranged for a companion for the man. And so the man and his wife lived happily...or at least until one day when the man suddenly realized that it was all contrived--his world was a fake. He discovered that he really had no choices, that he had no control over his life, and he felt smothered. Humans are creatures that need space; they need room to roam and room to experience. The man discovered he was like a caged animal--an experiment. The beauty and ease of life the man was used to soon looked plastic and false and he despised it. Then the man began to fear; he was afraid because he didn't know what the controller would do; he realized he was at the whim of the controller. The controller could not be inherently good, because the controller was withholding the very thing the man needed to really live: freedom. Then the man saw his chance to escape from under the oppression of his controller and he made his courageous getaway. And the rest of humanity has cheered his decision ever since. Anyone seeking to return to that subservient world is seen as a misguided fool and masochist.

Of course you know I'm speaking of Adam: the "true man," the original man. The controller is God, Christ, or Christof, as the show names Him. The evidence for this analogy is everywhere in The Truman Show, and not just in the names. The crew of the show working with the show's producer and director, Christof, wear T-shirts emblazoned with "Love him, Protect him." We see the irony of Christof being described as "a man who covets his privacy and seldom grants interviews." At the conclusion of the show, when Christof reveals himself to Truman through a booming loudspeaker from the sky, his first words are, "I am the Creator...of a TV show . . ." When Christof is confronted by one seeking Truman's release, Christof states, "Truman can leave whenever he wants to. We are not forcing him to stay here." Of course, the irony here is that Truman first has to realize that he has something to leave. And finally we see that Christof has the power to crush Truman with just the touch of a finger.

Ultimately, however, the movie screenplay props up a straw man. The storyline is deceptive--almost maliciously so--because it perpetuates a centuries-old lie. The real story of Adam is that he and Eve had to be forced to leave the garden. And even then God had to place a flaming sword across the entrance to keep them and all future generations out. God forced them out because they did not abide by their contract. Adam and Eve, and their successive generations, desperately wanted back in out of the harsh conditions they found themselves in. Adam and Eve found that the cage was outside Eden, and this one wasn't gilded.

God's enemy would love for us to believe that Adam longed to be free from the oppressive control of God. He would long for us to believe that Adam had no relationship with God and that God had no real interest in the welfare of Adam. Satan would love for us to belive that Adam was just a toy to God; an amusement.

The truth is that Adam had to leave Eden against his will--even after eating the fruit and "knowing good and evil" he still wanted to stay and enjoy the life he was used to. The truth is Adam would walk with God in the cool of the evening every day and they would converse. The truth was that Adam fell for the same delusion of grandeur that Satan did: to become like God Himself.

The lie is that there is no such thing as free will in God's world.

The Bible tells us that Satan is the ruler of this world. So, under The Truman Show scenario, it is out of the frying pan, and into the fire: Out from God's world and into Satan's.

I encourage you to rent and watch The Truman Show again and look for those not-so-hidden clues. I believe you will find the same theme in Pleasantville (a picturesque town with everything just perfect for the residents, until they realize that they've been confined to black and white, to existence without choice), Ed TV and even Titanic (a woman who lives in a gilded cage in which everything she could possibly long for is at her fingertips, except for her freedom--her free will).

And reread Genesis, chapters one through three. I think you'll find quite a different story than you're being led to believe.

Movies today are the new literature. They shape our culture instead of interpret it. We are affected and not only entertained. I urge you to go into the theatre will all your wits about you. Do some analysis afterwards. And don't be fooled.