Monday, February 3, 2014

Simulation Sensation

 the truman show photo: Truman Show End tumblr_lzcaj32Pps1qgj4zoo1_500.gif
The Truman Show

In the 1998 film The Truman Show we are asked to address the question, "what is real?"  What is real to one of us may seem a complete fabrication to another.  Is an experience only made "real" by conformation of the masses, or is it an entirely individual experience, and therefore a completely unfounded concept?  In the case of  The Truman Show we find ourselves straddling two existences; one that is made up by the collected conscious of a simulated existence, fueled by a creator and group of actors participating willingly in the ultimate human experiment.  The other is that of an individual, traversing through his seemingly unchoreographed, semi- self propelled life, an existence that most of us are comfortable to wade within.

The majority of Truman's life is orchestrated by consistent redirection.  He finds unscripted love with Sylvia/Lauren, a cast extra who is unintended for our protagonist.  It is her dramatic exit to Fiji which sets the wheels of agency in motion, "Its all for you," she exclaims as she is dragged off set by a false father.

Determined to find the "truth" at the core of  fiction in his life, Truman Burbank defies the wishes of his "creator" and (we assume) steps out from the unsolicited spotlight of his show to  find the one thing that resonated deeply despite the false walls of  imprisonment he for so long was unknowingly trapped inside.  It seems in Truman's case that love is the catalyst for his awakening, Sylvia/ Lauren became his beacon in the night.  And in this case Truman's truth, his unified reality, lies in the arms of once forbidden fruit.


  1. Makes me think of the part where Truman asks "Was nothing real?" and Christoph says "You were, Truman." So is he a "true man?" Is he the one real thing in the midst of the fake world? Or is he the most fake thing of all because he is so produced (in some ways, you could argue that the actors on his set are more real, since they are living authentic lives as actors, knowing who they really are, while he is staged and yet unaware of the staging). I like the way that the film vacillates between seeing him as real and seeing him as somehow a conglomeration of the corporation that designed him. It is interesting that it is LOVE that seems to propel him out of Seahaven's boundaries. I am prompted to think of Lacan (as some of you might be as well!) and what he might say about the pursuit of the "real." How is the REAL related to the maternal (his show mother is so obviously not fulfilling that role) and how is it related to desire in general? Or to Truman's sexuality? How does sex or desire move us closer to the "real" in a Lacanian sense? Or is the real something we will never be able to re-attain, having lost it when we fell into language, fell into Seahaven so to speak. Will Truman end up happy with Sylvia? Or will he realize that the reality he thought was outside the pod is still unreachable somehow?

  2. On the subject of sex and the real I thought it was really interesting that Truman's wife, an actress, was being paid to sleep with someone for whom she might not have even had any attraction. Although the sex was for the purposes of entertainment and might qualify as porn I don't believe it was ever actually filmed, and so would count as prostitution but is ignored by the millions of viewers of the show.

    I found a neat little in-character documentary about the Truman show in which they hint at around 13 minutes in that Meryl gets paid for sex, and then at 15 minutes in they mention she is the second most wealthy woman in the world (Truman must have a lot of sex).

    Its weird how the people in the 'real' world don't try to apply their code of morals onto Truman's world.


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