The Truman Show and Being There: The Theme

We use the word “advancement” a lot. It is a positive and happy word. Ironically, advancement can and often does cause harm. As technology develops, we begin to lose ourselves and our unique nature. This unwise progression is best illustrated by television. We lose ourselves more the longer we watch it. This is something that literature examines, since it’s about humankind and its activities. This issue is the focus of two texts: “The Truman Show”, and “Being There”. Both of these texts express it beautifully, but with slight differences.

The two perspectives presented are completely different. The Truman Show focuses both on the affected and influential. “Being There”, however, shows only the perspective of those who are effected. We can see how creators of TV shows manipulate and deceive people. We see viewers who are far removed from their lives. We read about the terrible consequences that will occur if people become too involved.

Truman Show has the protagonist Truman unconsciously staring in a world-famous show seen by millions. The entire show is a set and he is not real. Even his wife and friends are a part of the show. He is only 29 when he starts to see the reality. The crew tries to stop him from asking questions whenever he doubts the truth. The newspaper will read “WHO NEEDS EURASIA?” when he is interested in exploring the world. If he is looking to purchase a flight ticket, he will be shown pictures of plane crashes.

The show is a hit with the public. It is their favorite show and they watch it every day. In a certain way, the show seems more real. Truman-themed clothing and home items are also popular. Truman Show, unlike other shows, is broadcast 24 hours per day, seven days per week. The people watch as much of the Truman Show as possible, and plan and live according to it. They are happy to be around Truman when he’s happy, sad when he’s sad, etc. We can tell that, even though they don’t show us all of their lives in detail, they aren’t very successful and they spend more time worrying about Truman than about themselves.

Chance in being there, however, is more influenced than it is influential. He knows everything about the world from television, and it’s his reality. He doesn’t even question it, as we don’t question what is shown on TV. Peter Finch said it beautifully in “Network”: “Television does not tell the truth. It’s a goddamn theme park. (…) However, people are sitting there day in and day out and they are starting to think that the television is real. It is impossible for television to be real. This invented reality tube, however, has a profound effect on people and their perception.

We think they are just exaggerating and are not causing harm when we watch these two works. Some may believe that the videot is a chance and that no one could be affected by it as much as he was. The truth couldn’t be farther from reality. Truman Show and other works like it also question reality. Are we really as far from the media’s effects as we believe? According to one blogger, The Truman Show tries to criticize mass media today. (Zoom in) We live our lives in “invented”, invented worlds. We chase invented dreams and have invented hopes. Like the Truman Show’s and Chance’s audiences, we accept this reality and like it. Lies make our world safe, but we are afraid to confront the reality if it is revealed that the fake world was not real. Like Truman, we also hesitate to leave our fake world. Christof says in The Truman Show that Truman has never questioned what is real until now.

Plato once explained that we simply interact with shadowy images projected on our cave walls. We are afraid to go outside our caves, even though the reality is all around us. We feel happy and safe when we do not know the truth. Television became popular so quickly because it was so safe. It was the perfect way to avoid reality. Both of the works in this essay examine this subject and indicate that TV is nothing more than a shadow. This is a means of escaping reality. Television has a huge impact on our lives, which we cannot ignore. Yet, like Chance, many of us try to not see it.


  • arthurmacdonald

    Arthur Macdonald is a 39-year-old educational blogger and school teacher. He has been a teaching assistant for 10 years, and has taught middle and high school students in the Atlanta area for the past 5 years.