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small blue square From CNN's "Truman" review by Paul Tatara:

on Forrest Gump: "Realizing that someone was finally telling them it's OK to not ponder the nastier aspects of our lives, or, better yet, that you're somehow blessed if you're incapable of digging beneath the surface of troubling events, people just ate it up."

"What the story should be about, if it wants to make any kind of satirical point, is that country full of bozos who sit there watching Truman instead of living their own lives. But God forbid you should start dissecting that mindset. It might upset the people sitting in the theater (who are getting bigger and better voyeuristic jollies in the comfort of their own living rooms every day), and, when that happens, there goes your box office.

"Truman's TV-viewing audience, who we get nothing but cursory glances at, are simply blobs staring at a tube. The effect, from a movie theater seat, is of vacant people watching vacant people watching vacant people."

small blue square From the Salon review by James Poniewozik:

"...thus reviewers praise it for 'making us aware' of suspicions of television that we have actually held for decades. The movie, writes Esquire's David Thomson in the review that kicked the hype into high gear, 'is going to leave you worrying over the authenticity of every spun moment on TV.' Like we didn't already? What greater truism does our culture have than that TV is a distorted mirror? What more popular synonym for 'dishonesty' does our culture have than 'television'?

"At the heart of so much criticism on 'The Truman Show' is a frustration with criticism itself. Increasingly convinced that any critique of the pop-culture monoliths is simply absorbed by them and makes them stronger, the 'Truman' pundits hope against hope that the movie can strike a blow from within the Media-Corporation-Society biodome. As these commentators drive "The Truman Show" inexorably toward 'Forrest Gump'-style iconization, do me a favor and remember one thing: It was a fine, complex movie once, before it got turned into an op-ed piece."

small blue square ...and a letter to Salon in reaction to their main review, from Katherine J, Florey:

"Charles Taylor, like his peers, claims that 'The Truman Show' has something significant and disturbing to say about our times. True, the movie appears to echo some aspects of the contemporary world: people who take a voyeuristic interest in the details of strangers' lives, who broadcast themselves over the Internet or who flee to Disneyfied communities to escape real life. However, the movie isn't actually about any of these phenomena. It's not in the least bit critical of Truman's salt-of-the-earth viewers, who guiltlessly acquiesce in Truman's deception yet are instantly ready to cheer his escape. It's not about the wish to be watched or to be famous, because Truman has no idea he's a star. And it's not about the choice between manufactured reality and truth, which isn't even an issue for Truman; when he at last realizes what's been going on, he struggles mightily to get out of Seahaven, without a glimmer of doubt or regret. Moreover, on a more fundamental level, the question Truman faces -- whether to leave a placid but fake existence in favor of an unknown "freedom" -- just doesn't resonate with anything in the real world. People seek artificial serenity in order to flee the world's unruliness, not the other way around.

"But that's just the start of this movie's problems. The plot is insultingly sloppy, on matters small (what possible accident on the set would result in rain falling only over Truman?) and large (upon learning that everything he's known is a lie, why doesn't Truman experience a more profound dislocation?). Rather than being savvy about ad-driven culture, the film is embarrassingly out of touch: If advertising were really as blatant as 'The Truman Show's' ham-handed 'product placements,' it wouldn't be so insidious."

small blue square Part of the Salon letter from Ken Sanes:

What many critics don't fully appreciate is that "The Truman Show" is only the latest in a series of books, movies and television productions that have conveyed this message. Most of these works have the same plot, with variations in character and settings and slight alterations in their basic elements.

Typically, the characters in these stories -- and often the societies they live in -- are trapped in prisons disguised as ideal places. An entire society may be in an enclosed, high-tech city of self-indulgence that is really a death camp, as in the movie "Logan's Run." Or it may be stuck in a shared, drug-induced hallucination of a world of futuristic conveniences that covers up the fact that the actual surroundings are in a state of collapse, as in the book "The Futurological Congress."

As the main characters realize that things aren't what they appear to be, they try to make an escape, only to be blocked by malevolent simulators and high-tech manipulators who are intent on keeping them inside. In the end, they often break free and they free the societies that are trapped as well.