Baudrillard: "there is no longer a double, one is already in the other world, which is no longer an other, without a mirror, without a projection, or a utopia that can reflect it - simulation is insuperable, unsurpassable, dull and flat, without exteriority - we will no longer even pass through to ‘the other side of the mirror,’ that was still the golden age of transcendence.”
Angus on The Truman Show.
Angus suggests that the film would have been much better if it was all from Truman's POV and all the 'media studies bollocks' were cut out. He quite rightly points out that there has never been a reality TV show in which the participant didn't know that they were in a television programme (although, of course, there have been shows in which the people involved didn't know what type of reality show they were on - Joe Millionaire for instance). The film was obviously an extrapolation of current trends, though as Angus says, the Truman experiment surely goes so far beyond any acceptable limits that any satirical intent is stymied. (I have wondered for some time, however, how long it would be before there were 24 hour soaps...)
As with The Matrix the problem with The Truman Show is that it assumes too straightforward an opposition between 'the real' and 'the illusory'. It's what people who haven't read Baudrillard think Baudrillard is all about. But what Baudrillard tirelessly insisted upon was the way in which the hyperreal had invaded and superceded the real. The very ambivalence of the 'reality' in 'reality TV' demonstrates this. No one really imagines that this 'reality' is some unmediated primal authenticity unaffected by televisualization. In some ways, Truman is the only person who lives in 'reality', the 'true man'; the rest of us are condemned to endure hyperreality.
But I always read The Truman Show as in part a religious allegory. The Ed Harris character was clearly God, presiding over a preordained, perfectly secure universe whose smallest details he has lovingly designed. What Truman must choose between this theistic cosmos (determinism) and a Sartrean existentialist universe (free will). The door on the horizon, the door opening onto blackness, the blackness of pure potentiality, the void of existentialist subjectivity, is the threshold between these two realms.
Nietzsche: "But how did we do this?
How could we drink up the sea?
Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?
What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun?
Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving?
Away from all suns?
Are we not plunging continually?
Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions?"