Re: the Truman Show

Alexander 'Sasha' Chislenko (
Sat, 18 Jul 1998 18:13:25 -0400

A few points to the inspiring discussion of this inspiring film:

The whole thing is very familiar to any person who once lived behind the Iron Curtain.
Instead of staged personal accidents (father's death) the Powers manufacture lots of stories about accidents that happened with other people in their attempts to overstep territorial or behavioral boundaries, and even if you are really free and smart, and suspect that you are being fooled, there is no way to find out what of all this is actually true and to what extent...

I knew many people who, once the door with the sign "Exit" appeared in the wall, didn't take that step as they didn't feel enough strength and courage to face whatever it is outside (and this out of very few people who were actually looking for the door). Practically all those who made it out created a comfortable limited suburban nest in the new world, and still feel attached to the artificial culture of their first artificial world. Nobody starts looking for the doors out of the new world. It's scary. NOBODY.
(Any other former dissidents from the communist block on this list?)

It may be even more difficult to experience unintentional deceit. If you are fooled on purpose on a small piece of land by a small group of people who occasionally slip, you can discover it. But what do you do if you are surrounded by millions of people who stay within some idiotic boundaries (they are behavioral/cultural so that you can't even see them) and have created a culture that not only justifies, but glorifies these boundaries, and they all keep showing those boxes of cereal to each other, and you can't extract a confession of deceit from them even if you torture them - because they sincerely believe that this *is* real life.
So transcending the collective unconscious insanity of the mundane seems a lot harder than getting out of a generally comfy and somewhat leaky movie plot.

I saw a similar film in about 1987 in Russia - it was Polish, called "New Amazons", or "Sexmission". Exmission" means "Expulsion, or exile In Polish as I was explained. A scene of hitting "the end of the world" - there, a painted "after-nuclear-holocaust" dome - was almost identical. The film was heavily censored (I couldn't find a full version since), but still enough was left for the bitter irony of the situation to stare into the face of the viewer sitting under the dome of the theater, and then another one, a bit larger... Still, not visible enough for the middle-aged wives and friends of the Soviet colonels who posed as my fellow AI researchers in the Academy of Sciences, and accompanied me to the movie (one of them used her connections to get the tickets) to see anything related to *them*.

Did anybody notice that in the end the huge full moon was hanging in the sky close to the Sun? It looks nice of course, but even a school astronomy textbook could teach one that this can't happen. Somebody told me that Truman may have been taught some fake astronomy so that he feels comfortable in a photogenic world, but I am not sure - anybody has other interpretations of this scene?

Alexander Chislenko <> <> <> <>