Tuesday, June 30, 1998

The Truman Show

Editor's NOTE: This is a moldie oldie that I pulled from a text dump archive. None of the links will work anymore (or 99% won't) - but the names and companies have NOT changed.

I saw the movie "The Truman Show" this weekend... what a COOL movie!

Yep, if you liked the previous "The Crucible" review I did... you're in for another treat. If you hated the previous "The Crucible" review I did - then you can stop reading here.

OK, for those of you still here - the basic idea of the movie is that a human (yep - Truman Burbank played by Jim Carrey) was legally adopted by a large broadcasting company (OmniCam Corporation) for the sole purpose of providing a "real" TV show.

This poor person goes on about his life, without knowing that EVERYTHING in it is being controlled and manipulated by the "mad genius" Christof (played by Ed Harris) the person who conceived and has directed, produced and supervised it through it's entire 30 year run. Christof observes (directs) the entire show from a control room that is disguised as the moon (as in "man-in-the").

Truman lives in a beautiful beach side community called Seahaven. It's a typical picture-perfect little town, compete with beach, picturesque beach cottages, a small downtown including a bank, restaurant, hardware store, etc. However, the entire picture-perfect town of Seahaven is actually a gigantic sound stage. Truman's friends and family - everyone he meets, in fact - are actors - INCLUDING his WIFE, Meryl (played by Laura Linney).

To top it all off he lives every moment under the unblinking gaze of over 5,000 hidden TV cameras. I mean they have these things everywhere from the radio in his car, to behind the two-way bathroom mirror, to the bedroom, kitchen, and thousands of spots all over town. Literally, Truman's every move is caught on tape, and he doesn't know it.

Because it's a live TV show that's on 24 hours a day, seven days a week (including a live international feed) - WITHOUT any commercials. Everything in the show is "for sale." His wife, Meryl (a Carol Brady/Donna Reed/Shirley Jones combo), extolls the virtues of the coffee drinks, the house they live in, the car they drive... holy product placement, Batman!

I know what you're thinking - why the hell doesn't he just get in the car and drive away? Ah ha! It seems that there's only one bridge out of town - and that bridge crosses water. When Truman was a kid, his "father" drown so he's terrified about anything having to do with water, over water, etc.

Fast forward a bit.

He has received clues from some of the "actors" that his life is really a TV show. Of course, he doesn't believe it (I mean come on - would YOU??)... but then he realizes that it's all true. He still has no idea he's actually on a giant sound stage - and when he takes a route out of town, all of a sudden there's an instant traffic jam. He makes a U Turn, goes around the block, comes back to the same intersection and there's not a car on the street.

Good stuff! I won't ruin the ending, but it didn't suck nearly as bad as I thought it would.

So, this is the part of the program where I try to tie this movie into the computer industry... here's goes.

It might as well have been called "The Windows 98 Show." No matter what channel you tune to, or what magazine or newspaper or ezine you read, Windows 98 is the top story. No matter what country you live in.

Although "Christof" is a much cooler name than "Bill Gates" - they are both playing the wizard behind the curtain. Gates, like Christof, is the man behind the conception, production and direction of the entire show. There have been well over 5,000 cameras with "live" coverage of Windows 98, and there will no doubt be more as time goes on.

Like the product placements in Truman's world, everything on the Internet Explorer Desktop (oops, I mean "Windows 98 desktop") is for sale: IF #1 - you're NOT Netscape, #2 - you want to give exclusive content to Microsoft, AND #3 - they don't actually buy your company first.

Gates hasn't yet bought the moon, but he does have a $50 million home on Puget Sound from which he can control the entire show. The picture-perfect setting that Microsoft is trying to portray for Windows 98 users costs about as much as a huge sound stage, but thankfully, we're all free to leave at any time.

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