Does the media mirror or determine our reality?Using "The Truman Show" as reference, my task is to construct an editorial proving my opinion on the topic. I am struggling to get started and would...

Does the media mirror or determine our reality?

Using "The Truman Show" as reference, my task is to construct an editorial proving my opinion on the topic. I am struggling to get started and would really appreciate any thoughts that anyone has on media manipulation or similar ideas. It is due in a week and a half, so I am stressing.

Thank You.



Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many ways to go with such a topic.  Allow me to say at the start that this is a phenomenal topic and the film you have chosen is a great one for it.  If the commencement part is where the challenge lies, why not use Christof’s opening words to open the film.  The idea of whether or not human beings have become accustomed “to accepting the reality with which we are presented” becomes the fundamental issue in our relationship with the media.  If we believe that he is right in that we are content with accepting what is presented, then the media does determine our reality.  It acculturates us, controls us, and determined our state of consciousness because we “accept the reality with which we are presented.”  In this light, the media has set us up as a bunch of Trumans who live in our Seahavens, where product placement reigns supreme and we never leave the island.  Yet, if we examine Christof’s closing words to Truman when he says, “There is no more reality out there [in the real word] for you than what I have created in here,” and decide, like Truman, to go against what he says, then we assert a sense of power over the media.  In this light, we have left the island and have understood that the horizon is actually the wall of a soundstage and we are responsible for our own realities and autonomy.  Due to this, the mirror is merely a reflection of our reality and we are to blame for its lack of control.  Yet, this would also mean that it is within our own sensibility to pull it back within our grasp.  I think that using Christof’s own words to start your editorial might be quite powerful and help to establish the tone quite well.


e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a cyclical relationship between culture/reality/society and the media.

Each can be said to influence the other. It is hard to say that one side determines the other however. As an analogy we might discuss ways in which we attempt to influence our own actions and to shape our own behavior.

If I tell myself that I want to work hard, or that I am a hard worker, I become more likely to actually work hard. This is only true to a certain extant, obviously, and does not automatically become true just because I have said it.

Similarly, if the media tells us that we are living in a violent and corrupt world, we might see a rise in crime as a "belief response" in the citizenry. Then again, we might not.

clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It seems the media has the most persuasive power over the least educated.  In that sense - the media is contributing to the "determining" of reality.

I hesitate to say that in any instance the media "mirrors" reality.  A mirror is a reflection - the media is never void of bias.

On another hand, however, I think there are many who use the media as a motivator for positive change - to avoid the pitfalls, scandals, and hardships of others.  Even as I type this I realize this supports, again, the "determines" argument.  So I'll go with that.  For positive and for negative, the media determines reality more than mirrors it.

kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think I might end up saying that media determines reality for many people.  It shows them what they should like to eat, what they should like to wear, and what people think is important or worth thinking and talking about.  Given its profusion and constant pressure on people's eyes and ears and brains, it is bound to have some effect on what people think of as real or reality.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the media both mirrors and determines our reality.  To a certain extent, the media shows reality for what it is.  However the media also generates reality.  Our reality has become relegated to what the media chooses to focus on, which is in turn based on what they think WE want them to focus on.  We are the proverbial snake eating its tail!

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Propaganda has been part of Hollywood for a long time.  One needs only return to movies of the late 1950s and early 1960s to see and hear little blips of thinking that did not become the conventional wisdom until after the Civil Rights Movement.