How are prejudices (as a theme - conflicting perspectives) seen in The Truman Show by Weir?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Peter Weir's eerily predictive film about people's desires of voyeurism by means of reality shows, there are several conflicting perspectives. In fact, The Truman Show, made in 1998, forecasts the power of reality shows to affect and even control the lives of viewers.

  • The main conflicting perspective is that of reality vs. The Truman Show. Because Truman Burbank, who has been filmed from birth, is unaware that his life exists under artificial circumstances, he is a genuine person, not an actor. Thus, he is the only "True Man" on the set known as Seahaven; nevertheless, his existence is artificially controlled by the show's creator and executive producer known as Christof, who contends that "[E]veryone is an actor." Near the end of the film, he ironically describes reality show audiences as he speaks to Truman of the real world,

"There's no more truth out there....the same lies, the same deceits, but with me you have nothing to fear."

  • Another conflicting perspective is that of the audience vs. the unreality of Truman's life. Watching the show that airs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, viewers become emotionally and psychologically involved in Truman's life which is not free, but controlled by Christof. At times Truman's artificial life inspires audiences, emotionally sparking them. To a certain extent, the show controls the lives of viewers as they seem magnetized to the broadcasts.
  • Christof's own perspective of his show becomes distorted as he finds himself playing God. He arrogantly orders his crew to get Truman back by creating a storm at sea, a scene suggestive of the Old Testament. When one crew member says, "We can't let him die in front of a live audience," Christof is so enthralled with his art that he arrogantly implies that he can do just that: "He was born in front of a live audience." Later, he tells Truman, "You can't leave...You belong with me."
  • Truman himself has a conflicting perspective as he begins to realize that things are odd as each day the same incidents occur at certain times, or he is blocked whenever he tries to travel or escape. He comes into conflict with his wife Meryl, who breaks under the pressure of dissembling, "I can't carry on in these conditions." Finally, Truman begins to comprehend his existence, "It's like the whole world revolves around me...Everybody seems to be in on it."
  • Marlon, Truman's best friend, seems conflicted in his perspective. Although he is an actor, Marlon appears to truly like Truman and when Truman questions him about what is going on, Christof must feed him the lines to say, and Marlon hesitates with the lie that nothing is happening. 
  • Sylvia, an extra known as Lauren, comes into conflict with the perspective of Christof and is cut from the show when Truman falls in love with her rather than loving his wife. Truman tries to piece together what she looks like by tearing photos of several young women and putting facial features together. At the end, when Truman exits his world of 30 years, Sylvia runs to meet him.

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