Marxism and the Truman Show

The  Truman  Show  has  a  lot  to  say  about  the  culture  and  society  we  live  in  today. It  is  one  of  those   lot….. and  we  ended  up  with  this  presentation,  where  we  shortly  show  how  The  Truman  Show  can  be   and  the  principals  of  Marxism person’s  reality  is  constructed  by  how  they  experience  and  interpret  their  personal  reality,  and  also   believes  that  the  outcome  of  your  experience  is  not  certain  and  universal  but  relative  and  incomplete.

It  questions  the  rationalization  of  generally  accepted  ideas  of  certain  groups,  cultures,  traditions  or   races  and  focuses  on  truths  relative  to  each  people. explanation  for  everything  for  everybody  (Faith  and  Reason). 3. Why  is  Truman  Postmodern? shows  how  each  person’s  world  is  relative  to  their  experiences  and  interpretation  of  the  world  around   them. person’s  own  reality  and  creates  meaning  for  them. In  order  to  do  this,  it  creates  a  world  within  a  world  -­  an  utopian  like  world  within  the  movie.

And   throughout  the  movie,  it  exposes  the  structures  of  this  world. It  is  skeptical  about  everything  in   Truman’s  world,  including  the  media,  the  people  he  loves,  his  friends,  the  company  he  works  for,  his   memories,  his  upbringing,  his  aspirations,  his  home  and  his  habits. Through  this  perfect,  constructed  world,  it  tries  to  show  how  our  own  world  is  constructed  similarly   are  constantly  at  work  to  create  his  world. . What  is  Hyper-­reality? Hyperreality  can  be  described  as  the  failure  of  the  consciousness  to  draw  distinctions  between  reality   and  fantasy,  especially  in  technologically  advanced  progressed  postmodern  cultures  as  we  live  in   today. (Hyperreality. 2010)  Cultural  representations  are  not  measured  against  a  particular  human   reality,  but  become  automatically  accepted  in  the  culture. representation,  mirroring  a articular  real,  but  it  is  now  a  “model  of  a  real  without  any  origin”  and  that   is  the  hyperreal. So  there  is  no  longer  a  real,  and  a  representation,  it  is  only  the  hyperreal  that  exists   and  alters  the  real  (Baudrillard  1988). This  hyperreal  is  produced  from  ideas  from  people’s  memory  storage  and  authoritative  models,  which   allows  the  hyperreal  to  not  make  sense  or  be  rational,  because  it  is  not  measured  against  an  original representation  still  leaves  the  real  complete.

But  because  the  simulation  produces  signs  of  the   real,  the  real  loses  its  meaning  and  can  not  be  accepted  as  the  truth  anymore,  because  it  can  be   simulated  (Baudrillard  1988). This  simulation  with  its  system  of  signs  has  the  ability  to  “murder”  the  real. In  today’s  world,  people   2 think  that  a  sign  could  refer  to  a  meaning,  and  have  depth  of  meaning. In  other  words,  that  the  sign   could  exchange  for  meaning. that  murders  the  real,  because  the  real  never  has  to  be  produced  again  (Baudrillard  1988). s  relevant  because  of  the  sign  exchange  value. The  one  brand  may  show  that  the  product  is   fashionable  and  the  other  brand  advertises/sells  wealth,  thus  consumerism  can  be  seen  as  a   important  contributing  factor  to  the  creation  of  hyperreality. Hyperreality  deceives  the  consciousness   into  breaking  free  from  any  real  emotional  commitment  rather  choosing  false  simulation  and  nonstop   the  temporary  simulacrum  of  reality,  rather  than  any  affection  on  the  “real”  reality  (Hyperreality  2010).

There  are  three  orders  of  simulacra. and  the  simulacrum  tries  to  portray  an  ideal  image  of  the  real. For  example  a  painting,  photoshopped   image  of  someone,  fashion,  theatre. BUT  the  original  still  exists  and  exposes  the  fake The  second  order,  the  “Production”,  dominant  in  the  industrial  era  “up  to  the  middle  of  the  20th   as  the  original)  but  we  can  still distinguish  between  the  real  and  the  copy. The  third  order,  in  the  present  age  is  the  “simulations”:  they  have  no  original.

They  produce  the   model  “of  a  real  without  origin  of  reality”  and  this  produces  the  hyperreal. This  is  where  the  death  of   -­  hyperreality. Examples:  virtual  realities,  Disneyland,  opinion  polls,  media,  “nike  sneakers  as  status   symbols”. (Mann  2010) 5. “The  Truman  Show”  movie  and  hyperreality     5. 1  Why  is  TV  a  hyperreality           The  television  screen  is  a  hyperreality  and  I  will  explain  how  Baudrillard  tries  to  argue  this.

They  weren’t  necessarily  an  honest  representation  of  reality,  but  they  were  honest  about  being  based   on  a  reality  and  we  could  distinguish  between  the  reality  and  the  representation  (King  1998). For  Baudrillard,  with  the  television,  a  cultural  revolution  took  place  where  the  representations  are   not  related  anymore  to  a  particular  reality. Baudrillard  argues  that  a  live  scene  is  still  connected  to  a   reality  and  can  still  be  interpreted  and  compared  to  something  real  in  order  to  show  how  incomplete  it   is.

But  not  with  a  television  screen  (King  1998). He  says  that  the  television  blocks  all  interpretation  from  the  viewer,  because  TV  is  automatically   translated  in  the  viewer’s  mind. The  process  of  interpreting,  reading  and  participating  is  eliminated  in   “the  hyperreality  of  television”  because  we  are  passive  witnesses  (King  1998). 5. 2  Why  is  reality  shows  and  “The  Truman  Show  a  hyperreality? The  reality  show  “The  Truman  Show”  within  the  movie  is  a  hyperreality,  because  it  tries  to  be  more   real  than  real.

Reality  shows  in  general  are  hyperrealities  because  of  the  fact  that  it  claims  to  be 3 behaviour  and  the  footage  is  always  selective  (King  1998). But,  in  “Truman  Show”  Truman  does  not  know  of  the  cameras  and  the  footage  is  24/7  playing. Does   this  then  make  the  reality  show  “Truman  Show”  more  real  than  other  reality  TV  shows. No, because   the  people  in  Truman’s  life  (the  cast  of  the  Truman  Show)  know  that  there  are  cameras.

Also,  the   watching  him,  everything  around  him  that  makes  him  who  he  is,  is  part  of  a  construction  of  the  Reality   show. So,  when  this  reality  show  claims  to  portray  the  real  of  Truman,  it  kills  the  real  (that  is  it  kills  the   real  Truman. When  it  asks  the  people  watching  “The  Truman  Show”  to  accept  that  what  they  are   seeing  is  the  honest  and  true  life  of  Truman,    it  demands  that  the  actual  Truman,  how  he  would  be   outside  of  this  show,  does  not  exist.

He  can  only  be  “real”  inside  this  the  dome  which  is  Seahaven   Island. It  then  kills  his  “real”  ambitions,  interests,  fears  and  personality  because  it  claims  that  only  his   ambitions,  interests,  fears,  personality  and  ultimately  Truman’s  identity  on  the  show  is  what  is  only   real  that  exists. This  is  directly  true  for  all  of  the  people  or  the  cast  living  with  Truman  in  Seahaven  island.

The  cast   does  not  have  the  same  identities  the  moment  they  exit  the  show  (or  the  dome  that  is  Seahaven)  -­  for   example  the  wife  is  only  his  wife,  while  she  is  in  truman  show,  outside  the  dome  -­  who  is  she  then? 5. 3  Why  is  The  Truman  Show,  so  appealing  to  the  average  person It  is  a  reality  show  of  a  really  average  man  living  in  a  plain,  average  city  or  island. His  life  isn’t  very   exciting  and  consists  out  of  the  average  events  and  mundane  routines.

So  why  do  the  people  keep   on  watching  it? For  Baudrillard,  reality  TV  “increases  our  fascination  with  the  obscene”  that  is  the  thirst  for  “the   invasion  of  privacy”  (Chin-­Yi  2007) Baudrillard  argues  how  reality  television  shows  how  people  desire  the  display  of  banality  or  the   cliche. There  is  this  explosion  of  interest  in  daily  life. People  are  fascinated  with  the  pointless,   mundane  aspects  and  events  of  daily  life  on  the  TV,  because  of  the  boredom  of  our  own  lives.

When unplanned  events,  spontaneous  and  “authentic”  and  often  showing  unpleasant  aspects  of  the   person’s  life  (Chin-­Yi  2007). as  if  they  are  really  gazing  at  the  people  in  the  show  and  makes  the  viewer  able  to  be  part  of  the   “production  of  meaning”  of  the show. This  is  used  in  Big  Brother  in  the  form  of  the  participants’   “confessional  diaries”  and  in  American  Idol  when  the  public  can  vote  to  alter  the  outcome  of  the  show   (Chin-­Yi  2007).

In  the  Truman  Show,  cameras  are  placed  strategically  so  that,  as  in  the  Big  Brother’s  “confessional   diaries”,  Truman  looks  directly  into  the  camera  and  makes  the  viewer  feel  as  if  they  are  really  gazing   back  at  him. Reality  TV  and  “The  Truman  Show”  operates  as  a  perfect  model. “The  Truman  Sow”  is  a   representing  a  real  world  or  place. It  is  made  to  be  better,  safer  and  happier  than  any  reality  -­  more   perfect,  more  controlled. Show”  believe  that  actual  reality  is  elsewhere.

They  watch  with  the  idea  that  their  lives  is  the  real,  the   mundane  and  the  Reality  show  is  what  they  should  strive  to  and  what  is  more  interesting. It  is  the   4 perfectness  of  the  world,  the  orderlyness,  the  synchronization,  construction  that  fascinates  the  people   people  switch  on  the  TV  and  they  can  “become  part  of  his  life”  or  be  transported  into  his  life. This  process  murders  the  real  of  the  people  watching  “The  Truman  Show”.

Because  they  watch   “The  Truman  Show”  with  the  idea  that  the  boring,  mundane  world  is  the  world  they  live  in,  it  murders   their  own  reality. Seahaven  Island  is  actually  the  “real”  world  -­  a  miniaturised,  utopian  “real”  America,   because  it  contains  the  ideology  of  America  and  what  Americans  hold  high. It  conceals  that  it  is  the   real  world  and  is  therefor  presented  as  a  fake,  safe,  happier  than  happy  place. The  rest  of  the  world   is  no  longer  real,  because  it  is  part  of  the  “order  of  the  hyperreal”  -­  it  becomes  part  of  the  simulation . Marxism  Theory of  economic  management  which  results  to  the  oppression  of  the  proletariat,  who  ad  up  to  the  most  of   the  world’s  inhabitants  and  dedicate  most  of  their  life  labouring  for  the  advantage  of the  bourgeoisie. Marxism  today  regularly  has  more  remarkable  things  to  say  about  “culture,  consciousness,”  and   associated  problems  that  it  does  about  economics  (Berger  2005). There  are    a  few  basic  principles  of  Marxism  that  comes  accross  in  “The  Truman  Show”  and  can  be   used  to  analyse  this  movie 6.  Materialism Marxist  ideas  are  known  as  being  materialistic. Marx  underlined  the  connection  between  society  and   our  consciousness. The  mode  of  production  is  everything  that  goes  into  producing  the  necessities   of  material  life  as  in  economic  relations,  “labor,  instruments,  raw  materials”,  social  structures  that   regulate  humans  in  the  production  of  goods,  how  we  produce  goods  and  what  we  produce;;  this  all   determines  our  thoughts,  our  consciousness  and  how  we  express  our  lives.

So  our  social  being   comes  before  our  consciousness  (Felluga  2011). Marx  suggests  that  there  is  an  “inner  logic  at  work”  which  means  the  economic  system  shapes   So  our  ideas  are  not  completely  our  own,  but  affected  by  the  media  (Berger  2005). his  day  revolves  around  his  occupation. Obviously  with  the  motivation  to  earn  money,  which  is  a   of  the  morals  and  rules  that  is  set  up.

For  Truman,  this  is  also  true  because  his  public  social  image  was  constructed  before  he  gained   consciousness  as  a  person. The  moment  he  was  born  he  was  chosen  to  “star”  in  this  reality  tv  show   and  from  thereon  everything  in  his  life  was  previously  determined  and  controlled  by  the  creators  of   the  show. with  messages  aimed  at  giving  Truman  certain  ideas. These  ideas  help  secures  Truman  in  his  world

And  lastly,  by  setting  up  events  in  order  to  mold  Truman’s  fears  and  ambitions,  one  of  them  being  an   incident  where  Truman  and  his  father  sailed  out  to  sea  when  he  was  small,  and  his  father  supposedly   got  swept  away  by  the  sea,  which  made  Truman  scared  of  water  ever  since. 5 to  get  to,  we  know  he  show  has  created  his  fear  of  water  and his  occupation  uses  this  to  gain  control   over  him  so  that  he  would  stay  in  his  place.

Warts  also  mentions  that  the  company  is  making  cut   than  your  teeth  if  you  don’t  meet  your  quota”-­  so  here  are  limitations  that  is  set  up  by  his  work,  these   a  things  he  has  to  adapt  with  and  determines  the  decisions  he  will  make  in  future. These  examples  used  in  the  reality  show  is  symbolic  for  how  the  economic  system  and  mode  of   production  shapes  our  consciousness. The  media  also  gives  us  ideas  that  shapes  our  lives. f  the  individual  realizing  how  he  is  being  induced  with  materialistic  ideas  and  make  contrasting   decisions  (Berger  2005). This  idea  is  illustrated  in  multiple  instances  in  The  Truman  Show  where  Truman  suddenly  starts   questioning  the  intention  of  the  people  around  him  and  the  messages  being  bombarded  at  him. 6. 2  False  consciousness  and  ideology   wealthy  and  maintains  them  in  their  current  ruling  position  and  makes  it  hard  for  normal  people  to   extend  of  false  consciousness  (Berger  2005).

In  the  reality  show,  Truman,  trough-­out  his  life  literally  accepts  a  false  consciousness  provided  by   the  ruling  class,  in  this  case  the  creators  of  the  show,    that  keeps  him  from  realizing  his  real  situation   and  maintains  their  superiority  over  him. Truman  life  is  seen  as  the  noble  life,as  his  wife  tells  in  her   interview,  as  no  different  to  real  life  and  this  must  be  seen  as  natural  way  of  living,  or  the  right  way   a  family,  pay  your  house  mortgage  and  live  a  mediocre  life. hese  things  are  seen  as  the  right  and   sensible  ways  of  living  but  in  the  end  only  oppresses    the  proletariat  leads  to  stand  up  to  the  ruling   class. His  life  serves  again  as  a  symbol  of  how  we  are  affected  by  ruling  class  ideologies  that  affects  our   “whatever  is,  is  right”  (Berger  2005). 6. 3  Alienation This  term  “alien”  suggests  a  “stranger  in  society”  that  has  no  relation  to  anyone  else.

This  principle  implies  that  the  work  is  something  outside  of  the  worker  and  it  is  not  a  part  of  his/her   of  sadness,he/she  is  physically  tired  and  mentally  corrupt. This  alienation  causes  them  to  view  their work  as  work  for  someone  else,  and  not  their  own  work  so  that  he  belongs  to  someone  else  when  he   his/her  sadness,  with  advertising  it  creates  a  desire  to  consume  more,  cause  the  people  to  work  more   intensely  (Berger  2005). Truman  experiences  the  feeling  of  alienation  in  his  work.

His  work,  becomes  the  symbol  of  routine   progression. Each  morning  plays  out  exactly  the  same:  Truman  greets  the  same  people  in  the  same   spots,  buys  a  newspaper,  greets  more  people  and  walks  through  the  doors  of  the  insurance  company   he  works  for,  all  of  this  happens  to  the  tune  of  classical  music. Although  Truman  seems  happy,   he  says  things  like  “I’mnot  that  eager  to  get  there”  which  suggests  he  also  feels  alienated  by  his 6 is  distracted  from  his  work.

His  routine  and  his  work  serves  to  keep  the  people  watching  Truman,  in  their  working  class  positions,   to  also  work  hard  in  order  to  consume. He  doesn’t  go  on  spontaneous  vacations  and  when  he  tries   they  try  to  stop  him. This  also  encourages  people  to  rather  stay  where  they  are  and  work  hard,  rather   6. 4  The  consumer  society Advertising  is  important  in  the  developed  capitalist  societies  for  the  reason  that  is  essential  to   encourage  people  to  work  hard  so  that  they  can  spend  more  money  to  buy  things.

Advertising   maintain  the  consumer  culture  (Berger  2005). Advertising  and  product  placement  is  used  throughout  The  Truman  Show,  which  creates  the  false   need  in  people  watching  the  show  to  buy  the  products  in  order  to  achieve  the  perfect  lifestyle  with   work  hard  in  order  to  buy  all  the  things  they  see  on  the  show. 6. 5  Bourgeois  heroes: Heroic  characters  such  as  men,  women  and  animals  hat  play  roles  in    television  series,comic  books,   are  created  to  maintain  the  ideology  of  a  capitalist  society  which  helps  to  keep  “consumer  lust”  high.

For  people  heroes  are  the  role  models  that  they  can  copy  and  which  gives  them  identity. One  of  the   concepts  that  bourgeois  heroes  promote  is  individualism,  which  has  a  link to  alienation. For  Marxists   tough,  the  hero  should  be  the  p though  he  is  part  of  the  working  class,  proletariat,  his  image  is  marketed  as  someone  who  supports   consumerism  and  is  contempt  with  their  everyday  routines  in  life. These  are  characterizations  of  a   ruling  class  ideology.

In  other  words,  the  way  in  which  they  market  Truman  Burbank  as  a  person   (which  is  not  necessarily  his  true  ideals)  supports  the  ideology  of  the  ruling  class  and  help  keep   consumer  lust  high. to  break  out  of  the  chains  of  the  creater  of  the  show,  which  is  the  symbol  for  consumerism  and  the   ruling  class  ideas. In  the  scene  where  Truman  is  sailing  on  the  boat,  trying  to  sail  away  from  his  home,  the  show’s   creator  and  his  panel  capture  him  in  a  “hero  shot”.

This  shot  is  contradictory  to  the  way  they  have   been  promoting  Truman  before  -­  someone  who  consumes  passively  and  accepts  their  reality. The   creator  probably  didnt  think  that  Truman  would  really  escape  the  dome,  and  would  maybe  sail  out   looking  like  a  hero,  but  then  turn  around  because  according  to  the  creator  Truman  “ultimately  prefers   his  world”. person’s  reality  which  is  shown  with  the  help  of  theories  such  as  hyperreality  and  Marxism.

It  makes   us  question  our  identity,  desires  and  ideas  and  if  we  are  ultimately  shaped  and  controlled  by  ruling   powers.

7 7. Bibliography: Baudrillard,  J. 1988. Simulations  and  Simulacra. In:  Poster,  M. (ed). Jean  Baudrillard,  Selected   Writings. Stanford:  Stanford  University  Press. Chin-­Yi,  C. 2007. Hyperreality  and  the  question  of  agency  and  the  phenomenon  of  reality  television. Felluga,  D. F. 2011. Mode  of  Production  (Marx)  [online]. Available  from: http://www. cla. purdue. edu/ english/theory/marxism/terms/modeofproduction. html    [Accessed  5  April  2011]. Faith  and  Reason. Postmodernism  [online]. Available  from:  http://www. pbs. org/faithandreason/ gengloss/index-­frame. html. [Accessed  29  March  2011]. Hyperreality. 2010. Bookrags  [online]. Available  from      http://www. bookrags. com/wiki/Hyperreality   [Accessed  12  March  2010] King,  A. 1998. A  critique  of  Baudrillard’s  hyperreality:  towards  a  sociology  of  postmodernism. In:   Philosophy  &  Social  Criticism. Sage. 47-­66. Mann,  D. 2010. Jean  Baudrillard:  A  Very  Short  Introduction  [online]. Available  from:  http://publish. uwo. ca/~dmann/baudrillard1. htm  [Accessed  29  March  2011]. 2008. YouTube. THE  TRUMAN  SHOW  -­  HQ  Trailer  (  1998  )  [online]    Available  from:  http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=NkZM2oWcleM  [Accessed  11  April  2011] 8