“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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