The Truman Show: Materialistic Goods And Money Versus Living A Good Life
Released June 5, 1998 The Truman Show directed by Peter Weir and written by Andrew Niccol dives into the story line of Truman Burbank, a middle-class male who is clueless that every second of his life from his birth is being filmed on a reality TV show called The Truman Show. This show is a live broadcast of his actions captured by five thousand hidden cameras placed throughout the city of Seahaven, which in the eyes of Truman is thought to be a real city, but in reality, is a movie set directed by Christof. This godly like character tries to control Truman’s mind in every aspect, even removing him from his true love, Sylvia from the show and replacing her with Meryl who was forced upon Truman. From a young age, Truman wanted to leave Seahaven and travel, but every time he tries to escape, the director of the show finds every possible way in order to keep Truman isolated from the “real world”.
One could argue that throughout the movie, Truman Burbank lived a good life but on the contrary, one could express the opposite. Did he live a good life? Right from the beginning of the movie, the viewers were exposed to him living a comfortable life as a middle-class person. He was given a house, a spouse, a car, he lived in a friendly neighborhood where everyone recognized him, an office job as an insurance salesman and lived in the comfort and safety of Seahaven, the ideal city according to Christof. Many would define Truman’s life and materialistic goods as the idealistic way of living, but is this entirely true? From a young age, kids were forced and until this day are still forced to stay in school and pursue post-secondary education, get good grades and the future would pave its way. This is the key to a good life as many parents repeat to their children, but is that truly the only way of living a good life? Does every single human have to live the routine life of a nine to five office job like Truman Burbank did for the majority of his life? If one scrapes the surface of the movie and goes into the deeper meaning, it is clearly evident that Truman did not live the good life.
From the very beginning of the movie, the audience comes to the conclusion that the main star of the reality show wants to leave Seahaven, he wants to be spontaneous and travel abroad but when he attempts to leave the city, many subtle hints and external forces block him from fulfilling his desire to travel. This is evident when he hops on the bus heading towards Chicago and ironically before the departure, the bus breaks down. Furthermore, paying attention to deeper details, the newspaper headlines were trying to convey Truman that there is no point in travelling because Seahaven is the place to be, reading “Seahaven Is the Place to be” and “Who Needs Europe?” Another equally important point that proves Truman Burbank did not live the good life was that he was forced and given everything he needed, for example, a car, a well-paid job and his spouse. If everything is handed to us, we will not succeed in life and furthermore have self-determination because none of our personal goals will be achieved therefore having the feeling that we have accomplished nothing in our lives.
Not only does this movie concentrate on the life of Truman, but behind the main idea of the movie, it critiques the qualities of our society, stemming from our consumerism to our voyeurism. Many smooth critiques about our consumerism were present throughout the movie, for example, when Truman was pushed upon a billboard about Kaiser chickens, when Meryl came home from the grocery store showing Truman the new potato peeler, the advertisement about the new Elk Rotary lawn mower and many more. These examples of product placement critiques our society in an in directed form, proving that we, as a society are willing to buy anything that is advertised by celebrities or shown on popular TV shows. This goes hand in hand with our voyeurism of watching celebrity TV shows. We are brainwashed to think that every product displayed on the show will have the same impact on us but in reality, the opposite is true. This leads to a decrease in our standard of living, minimizing our self-esteem and self-determination.
In the beginning of the movie, when Truman had no clue that his life was being documented on live TV, he seemed to be living the good life in the security and comfort of his city. He was enthusiastic about everything he did, proving to the audience that the key for a good life is to live in security and comfort. As the movie progressed, Truman realizes that his life is being documented and the audience quickly comes to the conclusion that living in security and comfort is truly not the key to a good life, but instead having freedom and self-determination is the ideal way to live. To break away from your comfort zone and experience new things in life is what defines a good life as Truman highlights this at the end of the movie, when he leaves everything behind and walks out of the movie set.
In conclusion, many could argue that materialistic goods and money is the essence for a good life, but is that actually the truth? In my opinion, living a good life has a greater meaning than materialistic goods and money, it means overcoming your achievements and living life according to what you desire. This will lead to discoveries about yourself that you have never known. In your opinion, what is your personal definition of living a good life?