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If it ever comes to the point where people like Truman don’t even enjoy the consequences (good and bad) of reality TV, then the power of television has definitely gone out of hand. Now, it’s easier to watch television than ever before.Netflix and Amazon Prime subscribers can burn through entire TV seasons in massive binge sessions, thanks to Netflix’s policy of releasing TV seasons it has produced all at once, (including the Emmy-nominated House of Cards and the fourth season of Arrested Development), instead of timing the releases week by week. The only conclusion that can be made is that it’s different.Seahaven was filmed in Seaside, one of Andres Duany and Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk’s first planned New Urbanist communities, characterized by mixed uses and walkability.
Two decades later, it resembles a veiled warning, both as an astute predictor of reality television's enormous rise and as a cultural forerunner to the age of digital surveillance.
So profoundly has the film invaded the pop cultural psyche that there is now a psychiatric delusion named after it.
Things get interesting when he begins to suspect he is the involuntary star of America's favorite TV series. The first such show, debuted in 2000 that the genre became a mainstream obsession (the season finale drew more than 50 million viewers).
Twenty years ago, Truman's life of constant surveillance seemed like a flight of paranoia. For the next decade, reality TV would dominate prime-time television, giving one star, Donald Trump, a springboard to the White House.
The film stars Jim Carrey as the happy-go-lucky insurance salesman Truman Burbank, a man whose every moment, unbeknownst to him, has been broadcast on television, turning his life into a 24-hour reality show.
Millions have watched him grow up, go to school, fall in love, get married, eat, sleep, brush his teeth.Earlier this year, Norwegians stayed up for a continuous 30-hour interview with Hans Olav Lahlum, one of Norway’s most popular authors. But enough about Norway—Americans spend too much time watching television as it is.In 2011, 2.5 million Norwegians (that’s half the country’s population) tuned in to watch a ferry crawl across Norway’s coast. The Truman Show’s central conceit—a reality show becomes a massive, generation-spanning media franchise—criticizes the habits of watching too much television—where one man’s life is exploited not for his own benefit, but for the purposes of corporations.Truman’s 24-hour, 7 days a week, 30-year spectacle of a television run can be better analyzed when we look at a different country’s television programs—Norway. Another television show featured salmon swimming upstream for 18 hours, and viewers complained to the network that the program wasn’t nearly long enough.A recent article in the Wall Street Journal described how many Norwegians obsessively watch extremely long television programs. The WSJ article explains that Norwegians have a habit for hunkering down in the cold winter months given their climate and relative wealth.The show’s massive expenses (as well as the fact that it has been running for the 30 years of Truman’s life) are paid for by product placement.The irony is that not only is The Truman Show a satire of reality TV, but also of urban planning.Truman’s character is suggestive of Jimmy Stewart’s characters of Mr.Smith and George Bailey for his boy-scout optimism and naiveté.Recently I watched the 1998 movie The Truman Show, in which Jim Carrey plays Truman Burbank, a man whose entire life is a 24-hour reality TV show. The show takes place in a gigantic domed movie set that depicts a Florida island town called Seahaven, lifted straight out of the ideal small town suburban community from the 1950s. Adopted by a TV corporation as a child, Truman’s life is dictated by the show’s mastermind, Christof, played to perfection by Ed Harris.