The Truman Show

On Friday, May 1, 2009, CMC presented "The Truman Show" as part of Movies and Mind, where films are screened and discussed from a Buddhist perspective. Truman (or "True-Man"), the protagonist, is living in a reality television show, complete with placement ads, and is the only person who doesn't realize it.

He lives the "perfect" American dream, in an insular, gated community, as an insurance clerk (symbolically protecting against the inevitabilities of life—old age, sickness and death). Small clues or glitches in his life make him suspect that he is living a contrived, counterfeit life.

Gradually, he begins to reject his comfortable, small town life and seeks a more authentic life. The show's creator and architect, Christof tries to convince Truman that this life of artifice is better than what lies beyond the studio's walls, which is full of suffering, poverty and ugliness.

We can see many parallels between the lives of Truman and Shakyamuni Buddha. Both live secluded, protected and deluded lives created by a father (or father-figure). We can also see our own lives reflected in this movie--the presence of reality television shows in mass media and how our own lives have become reality television shows, starring "me".

We surround ourselves with media (Ipods, MySpace, and Facebook) to separate ourselves from reality and have unwittingly become walking advertisements, in our thoughts, our desires, conversations, and our consumption habits. Though the movie was created more than ten years ago, it is prophetic of our present and future.

(by Chang Jie)

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