“The Truman Show”: Ignorance Is(n’t) Bliss

jim-carrey

Jim Carrey has had quite a career as a comedy actor, and I, like millions of others in the United States and around the world, find several of his comedies deeply funny and entertaining.

Although the majority of his roles are comedic, Carrey is, in my opinion, underrated for his abilities as a dramatic actor. Arguably my favorite Jim Carrey movie, and one of my favorite movies in general, is 1998’s “The Truman Show,” which, like Carrey in some ways, is vastly underrated.

Yes, one could argue that “The Truman Show” is primarily a comedy, but it definitely is not as pure a comedy as most of Carrey’s movies. The film centers on Truman Burbank (Carrey), a middle-aged man who leads a seemingly typical life. However, a key fact regarding his existence makes his life anything but typical: Truman’s “life” is in fact a TV show in which he is a star. The “world” he inhabits is merely an enormous set, and all the people he knows, even his wife and his best friend, are actors in “The Truman Show.”

I’ve seen the movie many times; it’s very entertaining and is based on a fascinating and original concept. If you haven’t seen the movie, please watch it (and beware of a spoiler below).

Of course, like every other movie, it isn’t perfect. As I reflect on the movie today, I wonder what the differences are, in the universe of the movie, between the “fake world” and the “real world,” besides the obvious facts that the “fake world” is a set inhabited entirely by actors and crew save for Truman himself.

Anyway, since I first saw the movie, I have enjoyed imagining from time to time that my life is not actually “real” and that, like Truman, the world I know is merely a set, the people I see are actors, and my life is actually a TV program “everyone” watches and loves.

What I have included here is a list of “pros” and “con” of my life being “The Tom Show.” There are probably several additional points that could be added to the list, but below is what has come to my mind to this point.

Pros

1. It would explain the fact that almost all the eavesdropping I’ve ever heard sounded fake.

I’m continually amazed at the level of artificiality of the bits of conversation I overhear in random places. For example, I’ll overhear a generic person at the grocery store say into his or her phone, “Hopefully I’ll make it in time; I have a few more errands to run.” Just to be clear: I don’t distinctly remember hearing that exact line, but it’s a good representative of the kinds of things I’ll hear.

Of course, much, if not most, of what we say on a day-to-day basis is innocuous and bland. But whenever I do catch a portion of a conversation, what I hear just sounds so damn fake. To have a clear-cut and non-anticlimactic explanation for that would be satisfying.

2. It would explain any paranoia I ever experience.

I definitely don’t consider myself a paranoid person, but paranoia is not an unknown feeling to me. If I were the star of a TV show that encapsulated my entire existence, I would know how to come to terms with any unpleasant feelings about people watching me and/or plotting against me. “Well, it truly is all about me, so this must be advancing the plot somehow,” I could think to myself whenever I felt these ways. I could also calm myself by considering the idea that it would be in the best interests of the producers of the show to keep me alive and well and to keep the show going, so any of my fears about impending doom would most likely be irrational.

3. It really would all be about me.

We are all selfish people to some extent. It’s easy to focus on ourselves and not consider other people’s perspectives or feelings. Most of us are aware that the planet does not center on us, and we try to adjust our behavior accordingly when necessary.

If I were the star of my own “Truman Show,” however, this adjustment would not really be necessary. The planet would center on me. The fact that my “world” would be in reality a giant set made of concrete, metal, plastic and countless other materials is somewhat sad, but still.

I’ll be honest; sometimes the only way I come to terms with certain experiences is by thinking that I am somehow different from all or most people. Again, I think we all do this from time to time. As the star in my own TV show, though, I would be fundamentally different from all other people, which would make me proud.

Con

1. Life wouldn’t be “real.”

It’s definitely thrilling to imagine, in my opinion, that your life is a TV show in which you are the star, but knowing your “life” and the world around you are not “real” is an entirely different story. I would probably be deeply troubled by this knowledge and, like Truman, would seek to exit the set and enter the “real world.”

It would be quite an experience to transition from the reality I knew my entire life to the reality in which everyone else existed (at least when they weren’t working as actors in my world.) It’s hard to honestly say that I would make a different decision than Truman made at the end of the movie, but remaining in the “fake world” would have at least some appeal to me if it were all I had ever known.

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Though I only have one “con” of living a “Truman Show”-esque existence that immediately comes to mind, that “con” is significant and concerning. Ultimately, it overrides any “pros” of being the star of my own show if that show were in fact my “life.” Once I knew my reality was artificial and everyone I interacted with was merely acting, it would be impossible for me to enjoy my existence in the same way.

Ultimately, I’ve decided, it’s amusing and exciting to imagine that my life is “The Tom Show,” but if my life in fact is a TV program, I don’t want to know that for sure. I don’t think it’s necessary to let rationality ruin all the fun, something it’s skilled at doing, so I’ll continue to think to myself, whenever it suits me, “Of course it’d be that way. My life is a TV show.”

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P.S. Thank you for reading! I encourage you to write a comment!

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Running Thoughts: Pool Party and Air Force One

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Running long distances takes me to new places, mentally, physically and emotionally. I’ll spare you a condescending boast about “runner’s high” or how special runners are. In fact, I don’t call myself “a runner.” Instead, I prefer to say, “I run.”

Anyway, I experience fantasies when I run, fantasies I’m generally unable to conjure at any other time. I’d like to share two of these fantasies.

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1. I’m at a pool party, probably somewhere in southern California. It may be my birthday. Regardless, the party is clearly for me. The water glows a beautiful neon, and the sun is out, casting a soothing haze. It feels like the 1950s, but it doesn’t have to be; the year is negotiable, and time is ultimately irrelevant. I am on a patio, observing dozens of guests immersed in conversation. Everybody seems to be utterly content and at ease. They are well-dressed and satisfied to be at my party.

There are at least two prominent guests. One of them is Sharon Tate. As you’d expect, she is alluring and smooth. She chats easily with a variety of people, floating around the patio.

The other guest is John F. Kennedy. I see that JFK is surrounded by other men, clearly the center of attention, but despite his stature, he’s just one of the guys. He wears a broad grin and looks preternaturally comfortable. Furthermore, he smiles and laughs often, which is satisfying for me because he’s at my party.

My party didn’t just begin, but it will not be ending soon. Nobody there has any worries. The sun glistens on the turquoise water, and I smile.

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2. (Note: I see this from the third-person perspective.)

Air Force One, its magnificent blue and white body soaring through the air, approaches a runway, escorted by four F-16s. I am onboard, and I am the president of the United States. “Howlin’ For You” by The Black Keys provides the soundtrack to this scene. My family is eagerly anticipating my arrival, watching from the tarmac. My dad stares through huge binoculars, beaming with pride at the majestic procession.

I exit the plane and wave confidently to the crowd before descending the carpeted stairwell. The hearty cheers, the red carpet covering the stairs and the bold presidential seal on the fuselage of the airplane remind me that I am the most powerful person on the face of the earth.

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Hotels, JFK and Time Travel

imgres-1 The soft, calming light. The beautiful fall weather outside. College football on TV, and dinner plans later. We’ll go out to eat somewhere, I’ll order my Diet Cokes, and we’ll enjoy lively conversation. Hotels warm my soul. Knowing they’re always there, illuminated, clean and welcoming. Fantasizing about booking a room on a whim, flocking to a beautiful anonymity, ensconced in the comfortable coolness of fall. I have nothing on the horizon. I’ll get up, get food, exercise, walk to the house in jeans, the nostalgia surging through me like a current. I’ll head to Chuck’s, get some food, eat too fast and continue exploring, the leaves swishing around me as I sink deeper into sentimentality. Utter bliss and wonder. Of course, it’s natural to associate good feelings with hotels. Ideally, we stay in hotels when we’re escaping. On vacation with family. The cleanliness, the fresh smells, the devastatingly cozy beds are tightly linked with the pleasures and comforts of family. Over time, though, I’ve come to develop a yearning for the hotel itself. I do miss the days when my grandparents and extended family would convene; those were beautiful, full times. But the hotel has an inherent charm to me. I love to imagine traveling by myself from hotel to hotel indefinitely, filling the days with contemplation, bathing, music and eating out, movies, exercise and reading. The pitch-black room, the AC whirring to life periodically, the exquisitely soft mattress and sheets complete my cosmic escape to purity.

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At 12:30 p.m. on November 22, 1963, John F. Kennedy’s head exploded on a street in Downtown Dallas. That happened. The passage of time and the event’s further cementation into the foundation of history do not mitigate the acuity of that fact. That happened. People gather on a sunny Friday to get a view of JFK and Jackie in all their majesty. They would pass by in the brilliant midnight blue limousine, the American and presidential flags billowing majestically at the front of the car. A local businessman was one of the many who decided to film the motorcade as it passed by. He chose a pedestal in Dealey Plaza as his vantage point. The anticipation. Waiting to see the most famous couple in the world. Finally, the Lincoln rounds the corner onto Elm Street. Few people notice a rifle barrel protruding from the window of a warehouse overlooking the street. A mere matter of seconds later, the president’s life ends in a shower of brain matter and tragedy. The flame was extinguished with a brutal and devastating suddenness. It’s been almost 51 years, but those six seconds are forever frozen in time, and they forever will be.

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I prefer “travel back in time” to “time-travel,” despite the latter being more efficient and probably correct, and despite me wasting ink to note these things. If I were to travel back in time, I would go to January 1, 1950. New Year’s Day. The glorious 50s have begun. Larry David is not even three years old. John Lennon and Paul McCartney have yet to attain the age of 10. John F. Kennedy hasn’t even reached the U.S. Senate. I would spawn on the future property of my childhood home, and I’d take it all in.  My parents are not yet in existence. This is my neighborhood, where infinite memories will be formed, nostalgia will coalesce and the foundation of my life will be laid.

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Welcome!

I’m glad you made it. As my the title of my blog suggests, what you will experience here is a collection of my thoughts on various subjects. I am not sure exactly what this site will look like, but I’m excited to get going and see what ensues. Again, thank you for reading, and I hope you’ll join me for the ride!

Sincerely,

TWG

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