Jim Carrey in The Truman Show– a movie about a TV show bearing the same name – certainly personifies the criticality of an individual’s awareness of his surroundings and illustrates how dearly his ignorance may cost him. Though the movie was made in the late 90s, its relevance still remains intact. It carries the advantage of having a great entertainment quotient as well as reflects compelling sociological connotations for the contemporary society.
The movie is about Truman Burbank (played by Carrey) –a good-natured, animated young man stuck in a seaside town – whose life is filmed every second right from before his birth to his realization of being the lead actor of America’s most popular television show. This incredible feat, as seen in the film, is managed by thousands of hidden cameras installed in the town he lives in that’sbuilt inside an unimaginably huge dome.Inasmuch as the movie is a wonderful celluloid experience, the fact that strong parallels with the film can be drawn in real life is a bit discomfiting.More about this in the following lines.
The movie begins when Truman, without being aware, has been a star for 30 years through which time he is kept in total darkness about what’s happening around him. This continues until he gets clues pointing at the artificiality of it all. Then he does what the show’s director had never imagined; he sets forth on a journey to expand his horizons, not figuratively but literally, and stumbles upon the concrete dome, the painted blue sky et al.
Nonetheless, the ignorance hitherto imposed upon Truman closely resemblances what societal living means today. In this context, the first thing that comes to mind is History and the way it’s dealt with. The unending debate about the verity of historical accounts as they are writtenis a case in point. In India, for example, a section of activists blame school History textbooks for aggrandizing a particular set of leaders or favouring only a certain historical idea. They allege that history – both ancient and modern – as taught in schools is colored by the authors’ political ideologies. The authorities concerned areaccused of hamstringing unbiased inquiry by preventing it from being published. Neither are alternate historical versions allowed to pan out, the activists claim, nor are any debates permitted to take place, thus hobbling students of any sense of thinking beyond their means. This, if true, warrants a deeper investigation lestschools become factories manufacturing academic Trumans out of potentially inquisitive students.
Another disquietingparallel is the human urge for voyeurism. The movie clearly shows the degree of popularity of The Truman Show among the American public and how it overtly taps into the audiences’ voyeuristic curiosities that follow Truman through every moment of his life. That people enjoy reading about celebrity break-ups orwatching adult films shot by secret cameras, for instance, is proof enough that peeping into others’ lives is gratifying. From Google and Facebook covertly tracking user activities on the internet to the NSA eavesdroppingover telephone calls, there are numerous dismal instances reminding us that we live in a nasty world, and without the slightest cognizance of what lurks behind the bushes with its gaze fixed on us.The belief about God watching over humankind may be a given. Whether this means spy-cameras, search engines or security agencies is, however, left to one’s interpretation.