In Peter Weir’s film ‘The Truman Show’ there is an important idea of surveillance and social control. Truman’s life is controlled by the director of the show Christof. He makes the decisions on what Truman’s life is going to be like and keeps Truman on Seahaven island. Truman is also under surveillance everywhere he goes and is always being watched. What Christof is doing to Truman is unethical because he is doing all of this without Truman’s permission, Truman doesn’t know that the whole world around him is fake and scripted.
‘The Truman Show’ is more relevant than ever as it predicted the rise of “reality” TV and a society under tremendous surveillance. Our modern world is filled with examples of surveillance and it is fair to say that our privacy has become under threat because of this.
An idea of surveillance and social control in Peter Weir’s ‘The Truman Show’ is how Christof made Truman afraid of water. When Truman was a child Christof made his father drown in front of him out in a storm at sea. The audience is showed a flashback when he and his Dad were out at sea, the weather looked bad but Truman begged his father to keep going. They end up hitting a storm in their small sail boat and Truman’s Dad fell out of the boat and drowned. If Truman didn’t want to keep on going then they would not have been in that situation of his Dad drowning in front of him. Truman has always been afraid of water from that point and cannot leave the island of Seahaven because it is all surrounded by water. That’s one example of how Christof uses social control to keep Truman on the island.
Another idea of surveillance and social control is how Truman’s best friend Marlon is an anchor to him and holds him back. Truman and Marlon were discussing about Truman wanting to go explore the world’s places such as going to Fiji, and Marlon simply says (Dialogue) “Where is there to go?” Marlon’s purpose is that he is a lazy beer drinker with no ambitions. Christof makes Marlon hold Truman back by influencing his behaviour. This is another example of Christof using social control to keep Truman on Seahaven island, By making Truman think that there is nowhere really else to go and Seahaven is the best place to be.
My last idea of surveillance and social control is how the show has hidden cameras everywhere to watch Truman, from the mirror in the bathroom, his wife’s necklace, and to even watching him sleep. Truman is constantly being watched by Christof to make sure everything in the show is in control. An example of this is a midshot of Christof stroking a big screen of Truman while he is sleeping. This shows how Truman is constantly being watched and is under surveillance. Truman is also being watched to keep him on the island, if they do not know where Truman is, he could possibly be doing something that Christof and the staff don’t want him to do, like finding out about how his world is a giant dome.
This theme of surveillance and control is important to us today because in this world there are CCTV cameras, internet tracking, ID, etc. Say for example you and some other people were doing something illegal, there is a high chance that it is being recorded by a CCTV camera, therefore you would most likely get into trouble. If you steal something from a retailer, the CCTV cameras can pick you up and then they can get your ID. Internet tracking is dangerous as well because it tracks what you look at on the internet so if you are looking at something the browser will recommend things similar to that, which can be dangerous if you are unaware that people can see what you have been doing online. Our privacy is now under threat because of all these tracking things and being recorded everywhere we go.
In conclusion, Peter Weir’s ‘The Truman show’ has an important idea of surveillance and social control. Truman’s life is socially controlled by Christof’s plans and is always being watched by hidden cameras. Christof ideas such as using fear, having people holding him back, and always watching his (Truman’s) every move to make sure Truman stays on Seahaven island and keep the show running.